What is the significance of the conversation the boy overhears in "Araby"?

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Excellent question. Of course, when the protagonist of this excellent short story finally arrives at the place of his dreams and imagination, he experiences a rude awakening. Although he had clearly in his mind imagined the bazaar to be something mystical and mysterious, he is overwhelmed by how normal it is and how it does not, in any way, live up to his expectations. Note how he thought of the bazaar before arriving there:

The syllables of the word Araby were called ot me through the silence in which my soul luxuriated and cast an Eastern enchantment over me.

Yet in reality, when he arrives, he finds that it is nothing more than a group of Englishmen selling shoddy wares. There are no Arabs and no Eastern enchantment whatsoever. As if to underline his disappointment and how his illusions have been destroyed, the conversation he overhears is shockingly banal, with two people arguing over whether one of them had said anything or not. It is of course a combination of all of these facts that force the boy to experience his epiphany at the end of the story that makes him realise the grim realities of life.

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