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What could be a thesis statement for "Araby"?

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A thesis statement for "Araby" could focus on the narrator's epiphany, realizing that his hopes and love for Mangan's sister are insignificant to the world, leading to his loss of innocence. Alternatively, it could address the main themes, such as innocence and its loss, alienation, the impact of religion on Irish society, and the protagonist's transformation as he matures.

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"Araby" is part of the Dubliners series of short stories by James Joyce, who uses his own personal experiences in the creation of his characters and situations. Joyce makes his characters and their descriptions very real by using ordinary examples that the reader can relate to. The reader becomes invested in the outcome as he or she hopes that the boy will be able to impress Mangan's sister. The reader even shares his loss when he comes away from the bazaar disillusioned.

In any essay on fiction, a thesis statement (usually one sentence) is contained in the first paragraph and is intended to reveal the main point of the essay while at the same time ensuring that the writer retains his focus and the reader is inspired to read on. A good thesis statement therefore needs some basic elements which are related to the themes. Consider the main themes which will help form a thesis statement.

In "Araby," a thesis statement could discuss all or any of the main themes (innocence and loss of innocence, alienation, the effect of religion on Irish society, and transformation as the boy takes his first steps towards maturity). In discussing the theme of innocence which dominates the story, the boy makes every effort to keep his promise to Mangan's sister, that he will bring her something from the bazaar. Only once he enters the big hall does he begin to question his intentions and wonder why he has gone to so much trouble as he says, "Remembering with difficulty why I had come..." The boy's obsession with Mangan's sister drives his desires and reveals that loss of innocence can be a painful experience as the boy recognizes his efforts as futile.

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What would be a good thesis statement for a short story analysis of "Araby" by James Joyce?

James Joyce's characters often experience some kind of epiphany near the end of his stories, and the narrator of "Araby" is no exception. Although the narrator seems, now, to be an adult, he is recalling his first childhood experience with love. Hoping to impress Mangan's sister, the girl with whom he feels himself to be in love, he longs to go to the Araby bazaar to purchase some exotic gift for her.

However, before he can get there, he must pass what feels like an interminable week of drudgery in school; then, on the night itself, his uncle is late to come home and wants to discuss poetry over dinner before giving the boy the money to go. When he finally gets the money, the train runs on an "intolerable delay" and merely "crept" once it does get moving. Finally, upon arriving, the boy cannot find a cheap entrance, and when he does get in, he sees that there is nothing more exotic to purchase than "porcelain vases and flowered tea-sets." He feels delay after delay and disappointment after disappointment. In the end, he says,

Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.

This is the epiphany. A good thesis statement which analyzes the story might address this. What is it that the narrator realizes? In what way has he been vain? He seemed to think that his love for Mangan's sister in any way mattered; it was so important to him, that he expected things to work. When all his plans fell apart, he realized that his plans and hopes matter little to the world.

Thesis example: In "Araby," the narrator experiences an epiphany in which he realizes that his hopes and his love do not matter to the world; this realization results in his loss of innocence.

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What would be a good thesis statement for a short story analysis of "Araby" by James Joyce?

"Araby," by James Joyce, is the story of a young boy, probably on the verge of adolescence, who is obsessed with a girl in his neighborhood. The boy, who narrates the story in the first person, tells us in his brief introduction that he has never actually spoken to this girl; still,

Her name sprang to my lips at moments in strange prayers and praises...My eyes were often full of tears ...and at times a flood from my heart seemed to pour itself out into my bosom...I did not know whether I would ever speak to her or not or, if I spoke to her, how I could tell her of my confused adoration.

When he finally speaks to the girl, the boy promises her that he will go to a fair, called "Araby," and he will bring back a gift for her.

During the days leading up to the fair, the boy can think of nothing but the fair and the girl.  

When the boy finally arrives at the fair, it is a great disappointment. He arrives shortly before closing time, and most of the booths are already closed.  There is nothing to buy.  The lights are turned off, and "the upper part of the hall [is]...completely dark."

The narrator now experiences a classic Joyceian epiphany (a moment of self-discovery):

Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.

It was vain and ridiculous to think that he could become friends with this angelic girl by buying her a trinket from this worthless fair.


a) People often delude themselves with false hopes.

b) We only come to recognize reality through personal experience. 

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What are some good topics for an essay on James Joyce's story "Araby"?

James Joyce's poignant story about a youth's romantic infatuation and delusions is almost a prototype for the other tales in The Dubliners. Certainly, it is a prime example of Joyce's employment of "epiphany" in his stories. It is also perceived by critics as an important step between the first two stories and subsequent ones in The Dubliners.

Here, then, are some ideas for topics with regard to "Araby":

  • Epiphany as a literary technique
  • Themes (see the link below)
  • "Araby" as a bridge between the first two stories and the ones after it
  • The interplay of point of view in "Araby." While the point of view is first person narrator, there are what have been called "multiple distances": first, there is the boy's perspective, then the older, maturing boy, and thirdly, there is the author's. 1) the child is unrealistic and emotional in his perspective; 2) the adult voice depicts the boy in a manner the boy would not comprehend; and 3) the author is able to insert subtly the issues of class, religion, romance, and emotions that extend beyond the first-person narrator. [This use of the authorial voice expands upon themes and sympathy for the boy.]
  • The role of religious imagery
  • Symbolism and literary illusions and their roles in the narrative

For more ideas, see the links below. There are numerous critical essays available. Good luck!

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