Why is the story called "Araby"?
Since the Araby bazaar is very important to the protagonist/narrator and is also the place where his epiphany occurs, "Araby" is an appropriate title for James Joyce's story.
The Penguin Student Edition of The Dubliners has an explanatory note on the name Araby that reads as follows: "Araby was a bazaar organized in aid of the Jervis Street Hospital in May 1894.... Araby was also a poetic name for Arabia." At the time of the publishing of The Dubliners, the culture of the Arabic nations and the Eastern world was perceived by many in the Western world as exotic and mysterious. To create this sense of the exotic, the name of the bazaar and its doings was advertised as a "grand Oriental Fête."
The infatuated protagonist of Joyce's narrative also creates an exotic world for himself as he imagines that Mangan's sister's image comes between him and the pages of the books he tries to read. He observes, "The syllables of the word Araby were called to me through the silence in which my soul luxuriated and cast an Eastern enchantment over me." With such romantic expectations of Araby, he anticipates eagerly his trip to the bazaar. However, the narrator is sadly disappointed when he finally arrives there. He discovers that much of the place is darkened and the wares are put away while merchants count their money. When he goes near one stall that has vases and tea sets, he hears the English accent of the young woman who converses with two "young gentlemen." This conversation is as trivial and ordinary as the bazaar is disappointing. Disillusioned, the narrator discovers that he is not in an exotic and imaginary world of love and desire. Instead, he now perceives himself as having been "driven and derided by vanity" and his infatuation. His eyes burn with his bitter tears of "anguish and anger."
Joyce, James. "Araby." Dubliners, edited by Ronald Carter, Penguin, 2000, p.197.
‘Araby’ is the name of the bazaar, the ‘Grand Oriental Fete’, held in Dublin from 14th to 19th May, 1894. Don Gifford in his Joyce Annotated: Notes for Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man notes: “Araby was a poetic name for Arabia and was suggestive of the heady and sensuous romanticism of popular tales and poems about Middle East.” Joyce chooses ‘Araby’ as the title of his story because it is the place where the boy craves to go after he experiences “sensuous romanticism” and encounters epiphany.
The story is called "Araby" because that is the name of the bazaar that the narrator wants to attend. The term refers to anything Arabian, and it connotes something foreign and exotic. The colors and textures and smells of "Araby" are more enchanting than the drab everyday reality of Dublin. The narrator thinks that he can win the heart of the girl he has a crush on if only he can give her something that he bought at this bazaar.