Friday, July 13, 2012


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The Narrator a teenage boy, who has just developed feelings for a girl for the first

time. He wants to buy her a gift at Araby, which is an Arabian themed bazaar.

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Uncle and Aunt The narrator is raised by the uncle and aunt. The uncle comes home

late the night of the bazaar, this is why narrator gets to bazaar only as

it closes.

Mangan The narrator’s friend.

Mangan’s sister The object of the narrator’s affections.


Like the first two stories in Dubliners, “Araby” is also in first person narrative. The narrator is a nameless boy, who is thought by some to be James Joyce when he was young. At the start of the book, it talks of the priest who died in their apartment before they lived there. The narrator is raised by his aunt and uncle, reasons as to why are unknown. One of his playmates is the boy who lives opposite, Mangan. The narrator develops a crush on Mangan’s sister.

Eventually he manages to start a conversation with her, in which she talks about how she wants to go Arab but can’t. The narrator says he will go for her and bring her something back.

In the following days, the narrator can only think of the girl, the bazaar and the gift he’ll get her. The narrator is given permission to go and asks his uncle to be home on time so that he can get money for gifts and travelling. His uncle gets home late that night as he had forgotten, but the narrator goes to Araby anyway.

He arrives just as the bazaar is closing. Only a few stalls are open and he can’t afford anything anyway. His night has been ruined.


This story deals mainly with longing for adventure and escape, though here this longing finds a focus in the object of the narrator’s affections. The title “Araby”, suggests escape as well due to the connotations with the Middle East, which symbolise decadence, sensuality and escapism. The narrator’s desires for the girl become attached to his expectations for the bazaar and he is excited about the romantic gift he wants to purchase for her.

The key theme in “Araby” is frustration, as the narrator has to deal with situations which are not ideal scenarios for him. He has high expectations about the bazaar but as his uncle gets later and later, the narrator’s frustration is mounting as he fears he will not be able to go at all. He does eventually get to the bazaar, but it is basically over. His whole fantasies about the bazaar and the amazing gift he will buy are shown to be exaggerated and ridiculous. The night did not live up to what he imagined it to be like, and when he hears people talk, it is with English accents, and what they talk of is unexciting and boring. It shows how the narrator is unable to escape the fact he is in Dublin and there is nowhere where he can even pretend he is not. The accents of the vendors also emphasise how Dublin in a colonised city. In the end it shows how it doesn’t matter if the narrator was on time or not as he cannot afford to buy anything, which shows how we are all prisoners of our imagination and that reality is harsher than what you may imagine.

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