An Examination Of The Physical Spaces In James Joyce's "Araby" As Representations Of Guilt, Lust And Sex.

2058 words - 8 pages

In James Joyce's "Araby" various spaces are used to symbolize guilt, lust and sex. The narrator's desire to venture from home in order to attend a Bazaar, Araby, parallel his desire have his first sexual experience. The narrator's home is a place of religious type guilt and secret lust, as represented by the artifacts of a dead but sexed priest who once lived in the house. As Araby is the farthest point from home to which the narrator ventures in the story, it comes to represent the sexual act itself; the farthest point from the abstinance that his house both encourages and makes desireful. All sexual actions within the house are masturbatory, and those just outside of it futile and un-fulfilling as their proximity to the house/bazaar allow them to be. At the end of the Bazaar the narrator feels the shame and disappointment of an unfulfilling and overly anticipated first sexual experience. He has no choice, after the act, but to return home where guilt awaits him.The first page of the story describes the house and the street in which the narrator lives. The narrator explains that the former tenant, a priest, "had died in the back drawing room. Air, musty from having been long enclosed, hung in all the rooms."(29) The priest makes his presence known in the house through a mustiness and some books which are unusually sexual for a priest (footnote). Though the house has a feeling of being closed in (the street is "blind" and "quiet") the garden is described as being Eden-like in its wildness, it "contained a central apple-tree and a few straggling bushes under one of which I found the late tenant's rusty bicycle pump."(29) The priest leaves a remnant of himself again, this time a fallic tool, burried among the bushes of the unkempt yard. Even the space just outside of the house allows for certain sexuality which is squelched upon entering. Both the presence and the absence of the priest in the house create a secretive lust; both sex and its accompanying guilt sit heavily in the air of this stagnant house, bound to trap its tenants into the same pattern of sex and regret.The narrator's obsession with the girl is masturbatory in its voyuerism. Most of his sexual feelings occur when he is distanced from her, watching her. "Every morning I lay on the floor in the front parlor watching her door. The blind was pulled within an inch of the sash so I could not be seen"(30). He is enjoying her entirely without her knowledge, secretly and from within his house. He is also watching for her exit from the house, her house being, like the narrator's, a place of stifled sexuality. Other images of masturbation are brought forth in the narrator's thoughts of her. In describing his frustrated obsession he uses the words "chafed" (32) and "raw" (33). The narrator states "her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood" (30) bringing forth the image of a developing erection, not caused by her actual presence, but the idea of her.When the narrator sees the girl...

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