Symbols In Araby


Araby is a short story by James Joyce that was first published in 1914. The story is set in Dublin, Ireland and follows a young boy as he becomes infatuated with a girl who lives next door. As the boy tries to find a way to impress the girl, he becomes increasingly aware of the poverty and decay that surrounds him. Ultimately, the boy is disappointed when he realizes that Araby, a local bazaar, is not the magical place he had imagined it to be.

Despite its brevity, Araby contains a number of complex symbols and themes. Joyce uses symbols to illuminate the protagonist’s journey from innocence to experience. The primary symbol in the story is Araby itself, which represents the boy’s idealized view of love and romance. The boy’s disillusionment when he realizes that Araby is just a dusty old marketplace is symbolic of his loss of innocence.

Other symbols in the story include the girl, who represents the boy’s object of desire; the boy’s uncle, who symbolizes the adult world; and Dublin itself, which Joyce uses to represent the constricting effects of poverty and religious hypocrisy. Together, these symbols work to create a powerful and moving story about the loss of innocence and the harsh realities of life.

Araby is a novel by James Joyce, about a young boy experiencing his first love for the first time in Dublin, Ireland, when the Irish were beginning to fight for their independence from Great Britain. Although it’s about love at first sight, it becomes more complicated. The character of the youngster is used to convey images of daily life in Ireland and gives the impression that it’s a dark and unpleasant place to be.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the boy and that is Araby. Araby is a place full of hope and excitement, which ultimately represents the boy’s journey to manhood.

The story begins with the boy narrator describing his North Richmond Street neighborhood in Dublin. It is dreary and dark, with “gray houses” ( Joyce 1) and “dark muddy lanes” (Joyce 1). The only thing that seems to bring any color or life to this area is the Christian Brothers’ School, which is where the boy goes to school. Even the school is described as being “bare and cold” (Joyce 1). This setting immediately creates a sense of despair and gloom, which is furthered by the fact that the boy’s uncle is always “grumbling about money” (Joyce 1) and his aunt is constantly scolding him.

The boy seems to find some solace in his friends at school, particularly Mangan’s sister. He is infatuated with her and thinks about her constantly. She serves as a symbol of hope for the boy, as she represents a way out of his dark and dreary life. When he sees her walking down the street, he describes her as being like “a queen in bower or like a saint in a shrine” (Joyce 2). This shows how much he admires and looks up to her.

The boy finally gets a chance to speak to Mangan’s sister at a bazaar called Araby. He is excited to go, as he sees it as a chance to impress her. However, when he gets there he is disappointed to find that it is not the magical place he thought it would be. It is just a “dull dispiriting” (Joyce 12) place with people who are more interested in buying cheap trinkets than anything else. The boy realizes that his infatuation with Mangan’s sister was only an illusion and that she is just a regular girl, not some unattainable ideal. This realization represents the boy’s journey from innocence to experience.

While Araby may have disappointed the boy, it served as an important milestone in his life. It was a place where he learned an important lesson about love and growing up. Through the use of symbolism, Joyce was able to give the reader a glimpse into the life of someone living in Dublin during a time of political turmoil.

Joyce employs symbolism and imagery to illustrate the struggle of post-colonial Ireland. The symbolism is used to represent what Joyce cannot tell the reader directly, and the imagery in Araby depicts what is going on around the youngster; frequently, however, because he is daydreaming about the girl, the boy is completely ignorant of his surroundings.

Araby is a story about an unnamed boy’s quest to win the affections of Mangan’s sister, whom he has never spoken to. The boy is completely infatuated with her and his whole world revolves around her. When she tells him that she will be going away for a couple of weeks, he sees his opportunity to do something grand for her.

He saves up his money and decides to buy her a gift at the Araby bazaar. However, when he gets there, he is disappointed by the reality of the situation and realizes that he knows nothing about the girl he loves. Araby is a symbol of the boy’s hopeless quest for love and understanding. The imagery in the story shows the reader the boy’s isolation and loneliness.

“The syllables of the name Araby were called out to me through the silence in which my soul luxuriated and cast an eastern enchantment over” (156). When he gets to the bazaar, his fantasies and expectations are shattered when he finds that the eastern enchantment he wanted to experience was no farther east than England.

The boy’s disappointment is not only a result of the Araby being just another market, but also because he realizes that he will never experience the “strange” and “exotic” world he wanted to find. Araby is a symbol for the boy’s idealized view of the world beyond his own, a world that is ultimately unattainable.

The story “Araby” by James Joyce is full of symbols which help readers understand the deeper meaning behind the simple plot. Araby itself is a symbol for the boy’s unrealistic expectations and his eventual disillusionment. The bazaar represents the false promise of escape from the dreary life of Dublin and into a world of enchantment. The boy’s uncle represents the adult world which is both uninterested and unable to understand the boy’s feelings. Lastly, Mangan’s sister is a symbol of the unattainable object of desire.

Araby is first introduced as a symbol of escape from the dreary life in Dublin. The boy lives “in a line of dull grey houses…set back from the street in meagre gardens” (153). The houses are all identical, “with brown slate roofs…and green damp creeping up the walls” (153). This dreariness is contrasted with Araby, which is described as being “like a stage set to catch the eyes of the audience” (154). The boy sees Araby as a place where he can forget the “dark muddy lanes leading to the dull canal” (154) and instead be transported to a world of excitement and adventure.

The boy’s uncle furthers the symbol of Araby as an escape from reality when he tells the boy that he will be unable to go to Araby because he has to go on a business trip. The boy is initially disappointed, but his uncle offers him some money to buy things at the bazaar. The boy sees this as a way to escape his dreary life, even if only for a few hours. He becomes obsessed with going to Araby and promises himself that he will not go to sleep until he has gone to Araby and bought a present for Mangan’s sister.

Mangan’s sister is another symbol in the story. She is described as being “like a queen in exile” (155) and the boy is “dominated by her image” (155). She represents the unattainable object of desire. The boy can never have her, but he continues to be fixated on her. He goes to Araby in hopes of impressing her, but when he finally gets there, he realizes that he has nothing to offer her. He is unable to buy her a present and instead can only stand there “like a fool” (157).


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