, Research Paper
The story, “Araby” by James Joyce, is a short story about a young boy’s life and his quest to impress the young girl for whom he has feelings. The protagonists to the young boy, including the young girl, are the boy’s uncle, and the people at the Bazaar booth. The initial point of conflict occurs when the girl informs the boy that she cannot attend the bazaar, as she has every other year. “She could not go, she said, because there would be a retreat that week in her convent” (Joyce 106). The plot becomes more complicated when the boy offers to bring her a momentum from the bazaar. The night in which he is to attend, his uncle returns from work at a later hour than usual which causes the boy to have less time at the bazaar. Then, when he approaches one of the booths at the bazaar, there are people having a conversation inside. This complicates things because he wishes not to disturb them. “Then I turned away slowly and walked down the middle of the bazaar” (Joyce 108). The climax occurs at this point because he decides to walk away, without purchasing anything for the girl, and it is too late to go to another booth, fore the bazaar is closed. So in the end, the boy is left with anger and emptiness because he has not kept his promise to the girl.
In a story such as “Araby;” by James Joyce, theme, plot, setting, and characterization can be perceived in several different ways according to each
reader. The critics Deer and Deer, Litz, Atherton, and Stone have all read and evaluated this story and have all come up with completely different opinions concerning the young boy in “Araby.”
Deer and Deer’s critique on “Araby” points out the romantic angle that the author uses to portray the young boy’s character. These critics seem not to like or understand the point of the story. They show how unrealistic it is that a young boy would be so romantic. “It is the boy’s excessively romantic interpretations of everything from his casual conversations with Mangan’s sister to the syllables of the word Araby which make him ripe for disillusionment,” (Deer and Deer 61). This statement alone shows how the critics look at the story with distaste and misunderstanding.
Litz’s critique took a different approach, commenting on what he believes to be the main assertions regarding the plot. One of his focuses is on the “details that point toward an association in the boy’s mind between his own love and religious devotion” (Litz 51). He presents the facts about where the main character lives, the books he reads, and the colors in which the author uses to describe his surroundings to prove this assertion. Litz also focuses on the character’s failure, both religious and political, in the end of the story as he walks away from the bazaar with absolutely nothing both physically and spiritually.
Atherton’s critique of “Araby” is a comparison of all Joyce’s writings. In it he demonstrates how each stage of Joyce’s life is portrayed through each story, creating only slight changes to the true happenings. One of the most distinct changes is in the roles of his aunt and uncle whom the young boy resides with. In real life, however, Joyce lives with his father, mother, and nine siblings, none of which are mentioned in “Araby.” “It may well be that some desire not to offend his father influenced Joyce at this stage, but I think that he would have resisted this had there not been strong artistic reasons for the change” (Atherton 41). Atherton’s reasoning for the change of character from father to uncle is assumed to be as a result of the fear that the uncle portrays. “If my uncle was seen turning the corners we hid in the shadows until we had seen him safely housed” (Atherton 42 ).
From a neutral standpoint, Stone attempts to critique “Araby.” He does not state whether or not he enjoys the story, rather he compares the events of the young boy’s life to those that the author also experiences as a young boy. “The narrator of “Araby” – the narrator is the boy of the story now grown up – lived, like Joyce, on North Richmond Street,” (Stone 169). His comparisons to the place in which the young boy lives and the people he resides with are very similar to Joyce. Another resemblance of the story to that of the author’s life is the town bazaar that they both attend at a young age. By comparing these two lives, Stone demonstrates how the story “Araby” is written from real life experiences.
Each critic’s view attempts to clarify the reasoning for the way in which the story “Araby” is written and why its characters and setting are as they seem. Though they each have had quite different understanding of the story, it is clear that each enjoyed the story enough to give it such thought. Their writings were made simply to help others understand the background of the story and to interpret how the young boy felt throughout this stage of his life.
Atherton, J.S. “Araby.” James Joyce’s Dubliners.
Ed. Clive Hart. New Yotrk: Viking, 1969.
Deer, Harriet, and Irving Deer. “Characeter Through
Tone in ‘Araby.’” Toward Theme in Shrot Fiction.
Ed. David K. Himber. Boston: Holbrook, 1973.
Joyce, James. “Araby.” The McGraw-Hill Introduction to Literature.
Ed.Gilbert H. Muller and John A. Williams.
New York: Mc-Graw-Hill, 1995. 2:105-08.
Litz, A. Walton. “Dubliners.” James Joyce. Ed.
Sylvia E. Bowman. New York: Twayne, 1966.
Stone, Harry. “James Joyce.” Twentieth-Century
Literary Criticism. Ed. Paula Kepos. Detroit:
Gale, 1965. 35:169-77.