An Analysis Of Araby And The Dead By James Joyce

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James Joyce began his writing career in 1914 with a series of realistic stories published in a collection called The Dubliners. These short literary pieces are a glimpse into the ‘paralysis’ that those who lived in the turn of the century Ireland and its capital experienced at various points in life (Greenblatt, 2277). Two of the selections, “Araby” and “The Dead” are examples of Joyce’s ability to tell a story with precise details while remaining a detached third person narrator. “Araby” is centered on the main character experiencing an epiphany while “The Dead” is Joyce’s experiment with trying to remain objective. One might assume Joyce had trouble with objectivity when it concerned the setting of Ireland because Dublin would prove to be his only topic. According the editors of the Norton Anthology of Literature, “No writer has ever been more soaked in Dublin, its atmosphere, its history, its topography. He devised ways of expanding his account of the Irish capital, however, so that they became microcosms of human history, geography, and experience.” (Greenblatt, 2277) In both “Araby” and “The Dead” the climax reveals an epiphany of sorts that the main characters experience and each realize his actual position in life and its ultimate permanency.
The narrator in “Araby” is a young man who lives in an uninteresting area and dreary house in Dublin. The only seemingly exciting thing about the boy’s existence is the sister of his friend Mangum that he is hopelessly in love with; “…her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood.” (Joyce 2279) In an attempt to impress her and bring some color into his own gray life, he impulsively lies to her that he is planning on attending a bazaar called Arab. He also promises the gi...

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...realization that he leads an almost empty, emotionless life. Caught up in his own importance, he insults those he believes beneath him; he has very little appreciation for his homeland and the people and culture that make up Ireland; and what he believes to be a great love is actually nearly empty because his wife gave her heart away years before to a young man willing to die for the girl who held his heart. Sadly, Gabriel realizes at that moment that life is over in only a very short time, and he has never truly lived with passion and excitement, only with resignation and regret. The story ends with the snow falling and his determination to make a change beginning with a journey westward--to Ireland. The events from the evening have pushed Gabriel from his paralysis of possessiveness and egotism. (Greenblatt 2277) Maybe his future will free of these two evils.

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