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Araby by James Joyce Essay


In the story “Araby” by James Joyce the use of darkness and blindness is symbolic. It is a symbol of insight in Araby (Araby 1). He described the residence of the boy as blind: “North Richmond Street, being blind…An uninhabited house of two storeys stood at the blind end” (James 1).

This symbolizes the blindness of the area of residence and the house in which he lives. The narrator was sometimes playing with his friends till late in the evening. During one such plays, she got the attention of a girl, Mangan’s sister who was his age mate. The young boys gave attention to the girl.

The narrator however was caught by her thoughts and always found himself thinking about her. He said, “Every morning I lay on the floor in the front palour watching her door” (James 1). The narrator was blinded by the beauty of Mangan’s sister. He always had her image in his mind. In the busy areas such as the market her name came out into his mouth that he even said prayers which he could not understand.

Love was a mystery to this boy. For many times he had many chances to talk to the girl, but never did he express his love to her. The narrator is new to the love of a girl and does not know how to handle her.

The boy was blinded by the beauty of this girl such that he could not see other important things. He could imagine the girls company as he walked to the shop with his aunt.

This was a symbol of mixed symbolism of the Christian and the romantic or Oriental myths (Donschikowski 7): “Her image accompanied me even in places most hostile to romance” (James 1). He got confused when the girl asked him if he would go to Araby.

The narrator gave up religion and only had the girl as an object of worship. The narrator after hearing that the girl would not be going to the bazaar, promised to bring her something so that he could get another chance to interact with her.

Academics later became tedious and he lost concentration: “At night in my bedroom and by day in the classroom her image came between me and the page I strove to read” (James 1). Blindness is significant in this case. The boy was not able to see even what was written on the book he was reading but only saw the girl’s image wherever he went.

The boy was also blind to himself. He said that the girls name sprang to his lips at moments in strange prayers which he could not understand. He was shy and still boyish. He followed the girl of his first love, walked silently past and not making an attempt to reveal his feelings to her.

He had perhaps read many romantic novels and his expression seem to be from them. For example, he said, “But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running out the wires” (James 1). The boy goes to an extent of denying his eyes to see what he was able to see by lowering the blind at the window so that he could not be seen by people (Araby 1).

The story has many dark sites. To start with, the narrator and his friends played in the dark muddy lanes behind the houses: “…to the back doors of the dark dripping gardens where odours arose from the ash pits, to the dark odorous stables” (James 1).

This was significant in that it predicts a dull outcome of the story. The many episodes of darkness focus on the last part of the story: “Gazing up in the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger” (James 1).

The uncle and the aunt were not aware of the boy’s anguish as he felt isolated from love and what others termed as romance. The girl’s blindness to the boy’s love brought more disappointment to this boy. More blindness is seen because the boy did not understand his nature of love. The boy’s late arrival at the bazaar brought the end the love he had for Mangan’s sister.

The hall was closing in darkness and he related the silence in that hall to the one which he experienced in church after the service. He did not like the scene: “The lady was bored with him and interested in two men who were flirting with her, cheapens and destroys the sense of an “Eastern enchantment” (Donschikowski 7).

His love for the girl was vanishing after realizing that his love for her was only in the mind. The reality came true at the end in the bazaar. The boy finally realized that he had to be realistic so as to achieve his dreams.

Works Cited

Araby, Joyce. Lack of insight in Araby. Help, 2011. Web.

Donschikowski. Literary Analysis Using James Joyce’s “Araby,” A thematic Approach. Thetalon, 2006. Web.

James, Joyce. (2011). Araby. Fiction Eserver, 2011. Web.

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1. IvyPanda. "Araby by James Joyce." January 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/araby-by-james-joyce-2/.


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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Araby by James Joyce'. 14 January.

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