James Joyce's Araby - Setting and Theme in Araby

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How the Setting Reinforces the Theme and Characters in Araby

     The setting in "Araby" reinforces the theme and the characters by using

imagery of light and darkness.  The experiences of the boy in James Joyce's

"Araby" illustrate how people often expect more than ordinary reality can

provide and then feel disillusioned and disappointed.  The author uses dark and

obscure references to make the boy's reality of living in the gloomy town of

Araby more vivid.  He uses dark and gloomy references to create the mood or

atmosphere, then changes to bright light references when discussing Mangan's

sister.  The story expresses its theme through the setting, the characterization

of the boy and his point of view as the narrator.


      Darkness is used throughout the story as the prevailing theme.  James

Joyce's story begins at dusk and continues through the evening during the winter,

in Araby Ireland.  He chooses this gloomy setting to be the home of a young boy

who is infatuated with his neighbors sister.  The boy is young and naive and he

leads a dull and boring life.  Joyce uses darkness to make the boy's reality

more believable through more vivid, precise descriptions.


      Bright light is used to create a fairy tale world of dreams and

illusions.  James Joyce uses the bright light when describing Mangan's sister,

the boy's infatuation.  The protagonist is infatuated with his neighbor's sister

and he imagines that he will heroically bring her something back from the bazaar.

 Joyce refers to bright light when discussing Mangan's sister in order to give

her a heavenly presence.  Light is used to create a joyful atmosphere.


      The ending of the story is filled with images of darkness and light.

James Joyce uses the lights of the bazaar to illustrate the boy's confrontation

with reality.  The bazaar lights are almost all off because the bazaar is almost

closed.  This is significant because the boy wants the bazaar to be bright and

open, but it is dark and closed.  This is when the boy finally realizes that

life is not what he had dreamt it to be.  He finds himself angry at life and



      James Joyce uses the setting to symbolize a key concept of the story.

The dark disillusion the boy experiences is all part of growing up. The boy is

no longer young and naive, he has grown up and become disillusioned with life.

"Araby" shows how we all get ideas about how things will be and then feel

disappointed with ourselves when things don't work out as expected.

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