Student Question

How does 'Araby' by James Joyce reflect Modernism and the social realities of interwar England?

Quick answer:

"Araby" by James Joyce reflects Modernism through its tone and conclusion, showcasing the protagonist's transition from idealism to cynicism. The story mirrors the disillusionment of interwar England, as the young boy idolizes a girl and carries his dreams like a sacred offering, only to confront the harsh realities of a tawdry market and fading pre-war idealism against the backdrop of violent conflicts.

Expert Answers

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To me, the most glaring example of modernism in the short story "Araby" from James Joyce's "Dubliners" collection, is the tone and also the conclusion. The beginning segment of the story shows the idealism of the child, the young boy who adores and idolizes a girl slightly older than him. He even seems to "idolize" her literally when he talks about carrying his dreams and values as in a goblet, through a crowd. This reminds readers of the devotion many Roman Catholics offered to Mary, The Mother Of God at that time. By the time he has struggled through train stations, dark crowded streets and a Bazaar Sale, however, the boy shows the beginnings of the cynicism of the embittered modernist. He sees through the exotic illusion of the tawdry market, the sham of gifts and inwards to the fake values he so nearly accepted. Much of the dreamy pre-war idealism of England and Ireland and their religions was fading fast against the backdrop of bloodthirsty wars.

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