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The significance of Mangan's sister and her trip to the bazaar in "Araby" by James Joyce

Summary:

In "Araby" by James Joyce, Mangan's sister represents the narrator's youthful infatuation and idealized love. Her mention of wanting to visit the bazaar prompts the narrator to go there, hoping to buy her a gift and win her affection. This journey symbolizes his quest for meaning and the disillusionment he faces when reality falls short of his romantic dreams.

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In "Araby" by James Joyce, how does the narrator feel about Mangan's sister and why?

Araby by James Joyce is one of the short stories from the Dubliners series in which Joyce explores various life stages or potentially transformative events which stand to change the lives or circumstances of the characters.  

The boy in Araby is infatuated by Mangan's sister and is apparently coming to an age where awareness of, in this case, girls, is still bewildering. Even the boy does not really understand his feelings, his "confused adoration." He has barely ever said a word to her and yet he idolizes her. Thoughts of her invade all his activities and he takes every opportunity to watch or think of her:

My body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires. 

The first time she speaks to him he is overcome by the "curve of her neck" and does not remember part of their conversation, only that he is alone with her. He undertakes to being her something from the local bazaar and is then consumed by all thoughts of the forthcoming event. Only later does he accept that she will not have waited with the same anticipation. 

The boy's thoughts are typical of a young boy beginning to explore his attachment to girls and the emotional feelings that accompany his expectations. He barely knows what to expect but, when he does actually make it to the bazaar, he is overcome by his confusion and, instead of buying something, he stands dazed and somewhat perplexed by the situation. He has been so eager to go to the bazaar and to bring something back for the girl but, now that he has the opportunity, he is unable to complete the transaction which would have transferred his childish imaginings and adoration into something more concrete which maybe he is not ready for. The boy comes to a realization that perhaps his feelings were exaggerated and more about himself than the girl.  

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In "Araby" by James Joyce, how does the narrator feel about Mangan's sister and why?

The unnamed boy is young, innocent, naive. His deeply unhappy home life causes him to fantasize about an exotic, more exciting world in which all his deepest, most heartfelt dreams come true. The bazaar is that world—or at least it appears to be.

Sadly for the boy, Araby turns out to be every bit as much of a disappointment as his ordinary everyday life, with its seemingly endless disappointments. All he wanted to do was buy Mangan's sister a gift, something special that would show how deeply he feels towards her. But he's unable to do even that.

The darkness that descends upon the bazaar represents the end of his dreams, the onset of a profound disillusionment with a harsh adult world. For the boy, this is the end of innocence. Araby, like his infatuation for Mangan's sister, was all just an illusion.

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In "Araby" by James Joyce, how does the narrator feel about Mangan's sister and why?

The nameless protagonist of James Joyce's "Araby" is an innocent, idealistic boy who is also something of a romantic. He's obsessed with the books in the library in his house, one of which is a historical romance. It's hardly surprising that the narrator idealizes Mangan's sister and views his crush on her as the perfect romance. Indeed, once the narrator promises to bring Mangan's sister back something from the bazaar, Araby, he becomes increasingly obsessed with the notion of winning her love and begins to neglect all other aspects of his daily routine.

Given his extreme obsession for Mangan's sister, the narrator's epiphany at the end of the story is especially crushing. Realizing that he has been controlled by idealistic, childish impulses, the narrator seems to set aside his ambitions to impress Mangan's sister and prepares instead to join the ranks of disillusioned adults. 

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In "Araby" by James Joyce, why is Mangan's sister's trip to the bazaar important to the narrator?

All Mangan's sister does is to mention how much she would like to go the bazaar called Araby, which is coming to Dublin. She thinks it will be "splendid," but she is going away on a school trip, so she can't attend.

The narrator has a crush on Mangan's sister, who has no other name in the story, so when she speaks to him about the splendid bazaar, it gets conflated (combined) in his mind with his desire for her. His desire for her is heightened as she speaks about Araby, for the light illuminates her neck and the white hem of her petticoat. He mentions getting something for her at the bazaar:

If I go, I said, I will bring you something.

From that time on, the narrator dreams of going to the bazaar, and can't concentrate on anything else. School, schoolwork, and the neighborhood seem dull and mundane against his expectations:

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.

However, the enchantment will prove to be an illusion.

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In "Araby" by James Joyce, why is Mangan's sister's trip to the bazaar important to the narrator?

Really, the only thing Mangan's sister does to make going to the bazaar so important to the narrator is to speak to him about it.  She had never actually spoken to the narrator before, and so, when "At last she spoke to [him]," he becomes confused and flustered.  She tells him that it will be a "splendid bazaar" and that "she would love to go"; however, she cannot because she'll be on a retreat with her convent school.  This is enough.  Mangan's sister has spoken to the narrator, and upon this subject, expressing her desire to go to the Araby bazaar and her regret that she cannot.  He seems to imagine this as some kind of quest: he can go in her place and bring her something that will make her happy, and this will make him happy.  In the days between his vow and the bazaar, the narrator finds that he cannot even concentrate on "the serious work of life" because it now seems like "child's play" in comparison to the thing that he desires. 

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In "Araby," what does Mangan's sister do to make a trip to the bazaar so important to the narrator?

Mangan's sister doesn't need to do anything special to make the trip to the bazaar important to the narrator. He is so enamored of her that the fact that she simply speaks to him about the bazaar would probably be enough to make him want to go. He says,

At last she spoke to me. When she addressed the first words to me I was so confused that I did not know what to answer. She asked me was I going to Araby. I forgot whether I answered yes or no.  It would be a splendid bazaar; she said she would love to go [....]. She could not go, she said, because there would be a retreat that week in her convent [....]. The light from the lamp opposite our door caught the white curve of her neck, lit up her hair that rested there and, falling, lit up the hand upon the railing.

Not only does the narrator hope to make her happy by bringing her a gift from the exotic Araby, but he describes her appearance as though she were magic, lit up, and purely beautiful. Even before she speaks to him, he thinks of himself as her champion, a hero. Just prior to their conversation, he says, "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." When Mangan's sister mentions her disappointment that she cannot go to the bazaar, she, in essence, gives him his quest.

I disagree, incidentally, that the narrator's failure to name her means that his childhood feelings for her were, in fact, silly or childish. He is unnamed as well. As the other commenter states, this is a coming-of-age story, and the narrator does lose his innocent naivety, but the namelessness of both himself and his childhood love serve to make this story feel more universal.

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In "Araby," what does Mangan's sister do to make a trip to the bazaar so important to the narrator?

It is clear that this short story is a "coming of age" story where the narrator is a tender adolescent boy who is completely overcome by his Romantic ideas of love. These certainly come to focus on Mangan's sister. Note how she is described from the point of view of the narrator:

She was waiting for us, her figure defined by the light from the half-opened door... Her dress swung as she moved her body and the soft rope of her hair tossed from side to side.

Note how in this description the light that surrounds her gives her an almost angelic appearance - it is as if she has a halo. This Romantic obsession the narrator has with Mangan's sister (note how she is never named - this itself seems to show the foolishness of the narrator's feelings) clearly dominates him, as he himself expresses later on in the short story:

But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires.

This sets the stage for Mangan's sister's appeal to the narrator to buy something for her, clearly placing him in the role of knight errand off to complete a dangerous quest on behalf of his beautiful lady who awaits his safe return. It is this that sets the narrator up for his epiphany at the end of the story and makes him realise his own vanity.

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