Why is Mangan's Sister not given a name in the story of "Araby"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is rather curious that the character who is responsible for the romantic quest to the bazaar never actually has a name in this brilliant short story. Yet, if we think about the main conflict of this tale and the way in which Paul's romantic notions and illusions are contrasted with the reality of life which is forcibly imposed upon him at the end of the story, we can see that Mangan's sister is not named because it reinforces how impractical and illusory Paul's dreams and notions were. The story makes it clear that he views this trip to the bazaar as something approaching a knight-errant's quest for his lady:

I imagined that I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes. Her name sprang to my lips at moments in strange prayers and praises which I myself did not understand.

Clearly, such romantic notions are reinforced by the way in which Mangan's sister is such a half-drawn, undeveloped character. The boy builds so much on actually very little, and the epiphany that he experiences at the end of the tale is made all the more profound because he based so much of his dreams on a character who he knew so little about.


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