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Araby, is arguably the most famous and well known short stories ever written. However with its controversial content, the story was actually banned in many places. In the United States alone, it took a Supreme Court ruling to get the story published to be available to the public. The story was published in a collection of stories entitled "Dubliners." When explored in its simplest level, "Araby" comes across as a simple story of a boy's first love; however, once you peel back the layers and evaluate the story in a deeper level, you find it is a story depicting the nature of the world in which the boy lives, a world that frowns upon and obstructs personal ideals and dreams. Throughout the story hidden beneath the shallow plot lies the main theme about his efforts to escape an unfriendly environment by transforming a local young girl into something he can connect with; In other words, a spark of light in an otherwise dark world
The "deeper level" is unveiled and described in multiple scenes: the first description of the boy's street alongside his home, his personal relationship between him and his guardians (aunt and uncle), the information given about the priest, the boys ventures to the marketplace and his ride into Araby. The author, James Joyce, vividly describes North Richmond street with some interesting details. The street is "blind," in a sense it is a dead end; However, its occupants live life in a "tolerable" manner. The homes in a way depict the attitudes/ character
of their occupants. One could argue that Joyce uses heavy irony here because anyone who is aware, or not "spiritually unconscious" would feel eerie or uncomfortable on North Richmond street. Shockingly, the occupants of North Richmond Street are not threatened in anyway (as shown by the boy's aunt and uncle). On the contrary, they are pleased with their lives and put on a false image as a religious family who is secretly but deeply self-satisfied.
In the story, the boy's friend Mangan has an older sister in which the boy becomes obsessed with. The boy becomes physically attracted to her however he isn't quite sure how to feel or react so naturally he begins to admire her from a distance. But it is not too long before the girl approaches him and speaks to him for the very first time. This event will change the boys outlook on life for the time being until he later see's how immature he has been acting. In their first run-in, the young girl brings up her desire to go to the marketplace or, "Araby." Without thinking the boy tries to impress the girl by saying he will bring her a gift if he does end up going. This shows us how emotionally invested the boy is in the girl. Before the girl suggested it, the boy had absolutely no interest in going, yet afterwards, the boy wishes for nothing but to travel to the marketplace. Isn't this something ever young boy goes through at some point in his life? "Araby" is seen by a coming of age story to many because of the simple love story it resembles. Growing from the innocence of adolesance to the trials and tribulations of becoming a young man and dealing with his newfound sexual desires. Highlighting the boys first crush was a smart move for Joyce because it does indeed widen the spectrum for content that the author can put in.
In regards to the boy, Araby has many crucial moments in which the boy reveals to the reader the type of person that he is; however it isn't until the very end of the story that joyce's underlying motive is fully unveiled to us. In particular the last two pages are critical to the story because it explains the lesson that the boy learns. The first thing we learn by his journey to the Bazaar is that he hates his community. The horrible view of his community that he has on the way to the Araby causes him to remember the sole purpose of why he is going, the girl. However, does he really want to experience something fresh and new for himself or to please the girl? One could argue that his run-in with the girl was healthy for him because it was the catalyst that caused him to go experience something new in life while at the same time caused him to cross that barrier into that age where he is interested in girls.
After his long, miserable, "intolerable" train ride, the boy arrives at the marketplace and is exited by something that is truly different and mystical. Unfortunately, looks can be deceiving. Upon entering the building, excitement turns to disappointment when he realizes that the Bazaar is nearing its closure. For a while it seems like his temporary escape from his dark community was slipping through his grasp like sand through fingertips. From the reading we can infer that the boy wants to leave desperately, but forces himself to stay as if he went on a mission and a purpose. Then, as if he was hit with a bitch slap of life, the boy shows signs that he is finally realizing exactly how naÃ¯ve and immaturely he reacted to his experience with the girl, and understands that with this new sense of sexuality, he has to keep his mind in control over his emotions.
With the ending paragraph comes the overall lesson Joyce wanted to convey through Araby. It is revealed after the boy talks to the old lady, and the lights go out. Here, the final sentence shows that the boy is truly upset when he admits his own personal "downfall." "Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger" (Joyce).
Although the visit to the Bazaar was supposed to help the boy emotionally, it in turn ends up resembling the dark community from which he was trying to escape for a time. Joyce describes the Bazaar as being "dark" four times during the duration of the boys visit. The "darkness" reflects the same feelings that the boy gets in the alley way back home.
Araby, although sad and controversial in nature, can have a helpful message hidden inside if you decide to take it that way. The audience will feel for the boy, they will be angry with the boy. It is designed to describe the complex array of emotions that come with the feelings that develop for "a first crush." That is why araby is such a great story. However this is also why Araby can be hard for some people to understand. Joyces technique of writing involves connecting certain emotions with events or places that were mentioned earlier. For example he repeatedly uses the word darkness to describe the marketplace while at the same time using that to compare show how it had the same effect on the boy as the same place he wanted to get away from. Along with this, I believe the most important message in Araby is hope. It shows that although your life may seem full of darkness there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Most of us simply lack the light to show us the way out.