James Joyce explores ideas of youth, alienation, adulthood, transformation, and disillusionment within his work, “Araby.” In this narrative, an unnamed narrator anguishes over his infatuation with Mangan’s sister. “Araby” explains how this simple love sends the storyteller into the harsh and real adult world. During the quest for a girl, James Joyce uses the journey of the narrator to explore ideas of sight, revelation, coming of age, and change.
Sight is constantly referenced in “Araby.” The opening sentence of the story describes the street as blind not a cul-de-sac. Joyce focuses on the idea the sight leads to the disillusionment the boy feels over Mangan's sister. Many comments reference the image of the girl in the mind of the narrator. Without speaking to the girl, the speaker has already established his idea of how she is and what she will be to him. The narrator states, "But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were ...view middle of the document...
As he comes into the bazaar, his dreams become lies and the truth of the shabby bazaar is evident.
This spectatorship leads into Joyce's idea of the narrator's loneliness. Sharing with no one his secret obsession, the boy excludes himself from the solace of others. He describes how he would wait every morning alone to catch a glimpse of the girl behind his blinds. While he waits for his uncle, the speaker seats alone. This idea of exclusion from society pushes the narrator’s disillusionment. With no one to speak to about this situation, the boy builds up his own wrong ideas of a fantasized life with Mangan’s sister. The isolation continued as the narrator travelled to the bazaar. Although there was a crowd at the carriage doors, the boy still ends up riding alone away from the crowd. The author also uses setting to push the theme of loneliness. He describes two houses in the opening as alienated from the rest of the neighborhood.
The main theme woven through “Araby” is loss of innocence. The entire plot recalls how the narrator searches for a way to garner Mangan’s sister’s attention until the narrator’s revelation. At the very end of the story, the speaker finally understands that vanity lead him on this journey to the bazaar, and his trek was in vain. This realization comes when the boy sees another beautiful young women working in the bazaar. Epiphany transforms the boy into a man who realizes his pride lead him to the bazaar and not love. James Joyce uses epiphany to reveal the character to the reader in a moment and have their life unravel (Patton).
Change is the idea James Joyce wants to pursue in "Araby." While the main story follow the transformation of childhood into adulthood, the author uses setting to symbolize this also. The setting is winter, a time when the old dies, and the new is born. This parallels the narrator’s evolution in the narrative. The narrator even says he like The Memoirs of Vidocq “best because its leave were yellow” (Joyce).
James Joyce successfully shows the evolution a young man goes through during adolescence. The change, disillusionment, and reference to sight in the story help enlighten to alienation because of love.