Dubliners Essay, Research Paper
James Joyce s Dubliners
The Encounter is a story based on perception versus knowledge. In contrast, Araby is based on imaginary relationships and learning to see things. The main character does not see the world for what it is because of his perceptions. The moment of epiphany for the boy in The Encounter is when he realizes that he is coward. For the boy in Araby his moment of epiphany is when he realizes that his reality is just a fantasy, and what he sees it s what he doesn t know how to do. He viewed himself as a loser. In James Joyce s stories The Encounter and Araby the main characters are faced with the painful revelation of their own immaturity and narcissistic behavior, which then changed how they viewed themselves as adults.
For example in The Encounter the boy is portrayed as a na ve inexperienced, arrogant possible twelve-year-old. The moment he and his friend Mahony embark on an adventure, they were faced with the unexpected encounter with an old man. This man was potentially dangerous; possibly a child molester. When the old man introduced himself to the boys, he mentioned that he had read some books. Since the boy was interested in what the adult had to say, he wanted to impress him, and be liked I pretended that I had read every book he mentioned so that in the end he said: Ah, I can see you are a book worm like myself. (Joyce 12) The boy puts himself in a very vulnerable situation. The old man made some remarks that made the boy feel threatened, since he did not have a lot of experience, and was not perceptive that something wrong was going on he just listened. The old man stated and if a boy had girl for a sweetheart and told lies about it then he would give him such a whipping as no boy ever got in this world. (Joyce 14) All of a sudden he finds himself in trouble, and paralyzed because he thought the old man was about to harm him. His epiphany happens when he needs his friend Mahony to come rescue him. He realizes that he is coward, and feels remorse because he never really liked Mahony.
On the other hand, Araby the boy is obscured by his own perceptions of the world, and does not know his own reality versus his fantasy. He is a little older than the previous story, he possibly fifteen or sixteen years old. He is obsessed with a girl down the street. He fantasizes about her, and feels completely infatuated by thought of her presence. He is unable to mention her name because he feels her name is almost magical. I had never spoken to her, except for a few casual words, and yet her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood. (Joyce 16) He has an imaginary relationship with her. He sees nothing around him but her. He sees the world between light and dark, or night and day. All he wants is for a chance to speak with her. When she finally approaches him, she puts him in a very compromising situation. She stated that she was not able to go, but asked him if he was going to Araby for the bazaar (festival/flea market) he responded If I go, I said, I will bring you something. (Joyce 17) He does not think before words come out of his mouth. His vision is obscured because his fantasy is stronger. He arrives late to Araby . Therefore, his mission to purchase a gift for his beloved fantasy girl is shattered. When most shops are closed, he finds one that was still open. He sees some splendid vases, and beautiful flowered tea-sets that he cannot afford. His epiphany happens when he finds himself so blinded by his imaginary relationship and love, that he fails to see the world for what it is. It was very difficult for him to accept his failure; this is established in the last two lines of Joyce s story. Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger. (19)
The spiritual manifestation of both stories is that both boys realized that they were blinded by their immature and narcissistic perceptions of the world. In The Encounter the boy is portrayed as a young na ve, inexperienced about life. He is a boy that is very arrogant, and eager to be accepted by the adult. He is paralyzed when he finds himself in danger, and later realizes he is not as strong and courageous as he thought he was. As opposed to the boy in Araby a more mature older boy, yet with his hormones dominating all his thoughts and actions. He failed to see reality versus fantasy. What he sees is what he does not know how to do, which is in order to develop a relationship he should have been courageous enough to approach the girl first, and be friends first, prior to assuming he was in a relationship with her. Instead, his own vanity, and his obsessive quest to impress his imaginary girlfriend dominated him.
In conclusion, James Joyce portrays both stories as vivid and equally dysfunctional. They are both connected in the sense that he has many details of the boy s imaginations and perception of the world. In The Encounter the story is about perception versus knowledge. The boy sees something out of the norm, but does not know any better to remove himself from a potential dangerous environment. In comparison to Araby the story is about obscurity and learning to see things. The boy is very close-minded and narcissistic, and only sees the world that is more convenient for him. Both stories are very dysfunctional in the sense that there was no happy ending, rather an epiphany of the characters darkest and less attractive qualities.