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A Useless Life In Araby By James Joyce

768 words - 4 pages

In the story “Araby”, by James Joyce the narrator talks about life on North Richmond Street. The narrator lives with his aunt and uncle in an apartment that a former priest, who had died, had lived in. The priest left behind many books and the boy would often go and read them. The boy (narrator) became friends with a boy named Mangan, and develops a crush on his sister. He watches her almost every day. “Every morning I lay on the floor in the front parlor watching her door.” (Page 1137) He had never spoken to this girl until one day she approached him. She asked him if he is going to the Araby. She explains to the boy how she cannot go and he assures her that he will go and bring her back something. However through a series of events the boy is late to the bazaar and realizes his pocket change falls short. The boy in James Joyce’s “Araby” learns that life throws us curves, day dreams are much more pleasant than harsh reality, and he forever will remain a prisoner of his ...view middle of the document...

” (Pg. 1240) So the boy heads off to the train only to be late to the bazaar, to find everything closing.
Next the boy learns that his day dreams are much more pleasant than harsh reality. “Her dress swung as she moved her body and the soft rope of her hair tossed from side to side.” (Page 1237) He day dreams about Mangan’s sister every day, thinking about her body and all of her features. Yet he has never spoken to her he just watches from afar. “Some distant lamp or lighted window gleamed below me. I was thankful I that I could see so little. All my senses seemed to desire to veil themselves and, feeling that I was about to slip from them, I pressed the palms of my hands together until they trembled…” (Page 1238) All he can do is fantasize about this girl.
Lastly, he realizes he will forever remain a prisoner of his modest means and his city. He realizes he has “failed” in impressing this girl he has a crush on. “I lingered before her stall, though I knew my stay was useless, to make my interest in her wares seem the more real. Then I turned away slowly and walked down the middle of the bazaar. I allowed the two pennies to fall against the sixpence in my pocket.” (Page 1241) At this moment he sees his life flash before him. He grasps reality that he will be stuck in the same place forever making little money. “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.” (Page 1241) At this moment he sees his life as useless.
The boy in James Joyce’s “Araby” learns that life throws us curves, day dreams are much more pleasant than harsh reality, and he forever will remain a prisoner of his modest means and his city. He sees how not everyone can always get what they want, and that life throws us curves we just have to learn to get around them. The boy is always day dreaming but he has to learn to face the harshness of reality. And at the end of the story he sees his life as vanity. He himself feels useless, but he also sees his life as useless, never moving forward and never changing. In this way the boy learns three different things about his life.

Works Cited

Prentice Hall Literature, The British Tradition, Volume Two. Common Core Edition. Copyright 2012, Pearson Education, Inc., or itsw affiliates. Modernism in Fiction, Part Two. Pages 1236-1241.

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