What is the significance of the final passage in "Araby" by James Joyce?

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Joyce is famous for ending his short stories with an epiphany, which is a sudden insight or revelation. The word epiphany is a reference to the Wise Men coming to see the infant Jesus and having the sudden insight that he was the messiah or savior of Israel.

In "Araby," the young narrator has dreamed of Mangan's sister, on whom he has a crush, and of the bazaar, Araby. The two conflate, or come together in his mind, especially as he has promised Mangan's sister a gift from the bazaar if he goes. Both the bazaar and the girl represent to him his aspirations of finding a better, more beautiful, more exotic life than the one he leads. His life is characterized by being dull and brown, lived at the end of a blind alley or cut-de-sac, hemmed in by an alcoholic uncle and the restraints of school.

Instead, when he gets to Araby just as it is closing, he realizes he has been deluding himself. The bazaar, dusty and junky, with booths manned by ordinary Dubliners, is nothing like the enchanting place he expected. He realizes that both a better world and Mangan's sister are out of his reach. He feels he has been vain, puffing himself with the fantasy of being more than he is, and his eyes (the source of insight) burn with anguish at this knowledge.

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The final passage of "Araby" represents a loss of innocence for the unnamed boy narrator. He was so looking forward to going to the bazaar, to buying a gift for Mangan's sister, for whom he's developed such strong feelings. Yet due to circumstances beyond his control, he arrives there too late, just as the bazaar is closing down. As he stands alone in the enveloping darkness, the boy suddenly starts to feel like a complete fool, a victim of his own vanity. He so much wanted to escape, however briefly, from his drab, humdrum little world. But even that was a forlorn hope. The darkness into which the upper part of the hall has fallen ironically provides illumination to the boy. For now he has truly seen the light, truly seen the fantastical, unattainable nature of his boyhood wishes.

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The final passage of James Joyce's "Araby" explains the epiphany the narrator had as a young boy that "vanity" caused him to believe his feelings mattered in the world. The young boy had been keenly aware of the little light in the overwhelmingly dark world he inhabits; when he plays outside in the dark, his body "glowed," and Mangan's sister is always "defined by the light" or "lit up" in some way. This light seems to be representative of his hope that Mangan's sister could return his love for her. When the boy is on his way to Araby, he notices only the lights "glaring with gas," the "twinkling river," and even the "lighted dial of a clock."  Araby is mostly dark when he arrives, however, and he realizes he has arrived too late. The boy was delayed by his uncle, his need for money, the terribly slow train, and his desire to locate a cheap entrance so that he could save his money to buy Mangan's sister a gift. He then discovers there is nothing worth purchasing anyway, and the remaining lights go out. Now in darkness, the narrator realizes his feelings for Mangan's sister do not matter to anyone or anything but him, and he loses his innocent hopefulness.

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