Introduction of the narrator and his infatuation (on North Richmond Street, in a lower middle class Dublin neighborhood): The story takes the form of a reminiscence by an unnamed first-person narrator. It begins with a general description of his daily life as a pre-adolescent boy living with his aunt and uncle. He describes his home, his after-school play in the streets with friends, and his infatuation with the girl who lives across the way, identified only as “Mangan’s sister.” The story’s first specific event occurs when the girl speaks to him for the first time. She asks if he is going to Araby, a “splendid bazaar” that she can’t attend because she’s taking part in a religious retreat. He replies that if he goes, he will bring her back a gift.
Anticipation of Araby (at the narrator’s school and home): After their conversation, the narrator becomes obsessed with Araby. He gets his aunt’s permission to attend, and in the intervening days he can think of little else. When the evening of the bazaar finally arrives, he has to wait until his uncle returns home for dinner in order to get the money he needs to attend. The uncle is late; from all indications he’s spent the evening at the pub. By the time the narrator finally departs, there’s an air of desperation about his journey.
Disillusionment at Araby (at the bazaar): After an agonizing train ride, the narrator arrives at Araby as it’s closing for the night. A few stalls remain open, and he approaches one of them. He overhears the young female sales clerk exchanging banal, flirtatious chatter with two young men. When she asks the narrator in a cursory manner if he wants to buy anything, he answers “no.” He’s crestfallen: “I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity,” he says, “and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.”