James Joyce's, "Araby" is a simple tale of youthful passion set in the midst of a harsh economic era. The main character of the story is a young boy living in a bleak environment who becomes entangled in the passions, frustrations, and realizations of youth. The bleak setting of the era is enhanced by the narrator's descriptions of the young boy's surroundings. "Araby" is a story of the loneliness of youth, the joy of youthful passion, and the realization of lost dreams.
In the very beginnings of "Araby" the narrator sets up a feeling of loneliness in the story by describing North Richmond Street as a "quiet street" and gives a description of "an uninhabited house" at the blind end which suggests isolation (252). He goes further to describe the other houses on the street as having "brown imperturbable faces" which implies a calm dreariness. In describing the prior occupant of the house the narrator states, "The former tenant of our house, a priest, had died in the back drawing-room" (252). It is interesting that the narrator describes the former tenant in this way. He could have easily described the former tenant as a very popular priest in the area or just simply as a priest who once had inhabited the house, yet the narrator chose to associate the death of the priest with the house. To further enhance the dreariness of the story, the narrator gives the location of the death as "in the back drawing-room" suggesting a "depth" and "mystique" to the house (252).
The narrator's extreme use of negatively descriptive words and phrases in the opening paragraphs such as "quiet", "uninhabited", "a central apple-tree", "a few straggling bushes", and "dark muddy lanes" give a bleak theme ...
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...ege online library, Lynchburg, VA 10 Nov. 2003 http://80-galenet.galegroup.com/
Norris, Margot, "Blind streets and seeing houses: Araby's dim glass revisited." Studies in Short Fiction, v32 n3 p309 (10), (Summer 1995) Central Virginia Community College online library, Lynchburg, VA (Special "Dubliners" Number)
15 Nov. 2003 http://80-web4.infotrac.galegroup.com/
Pound, Erza, "Dubliners and Mr. James Joyce", The Egoist, Vol. I, No. 14, July 15 1914, p. 267.
Reprinted in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Vol. 35 Central Virginia Community College online library, Lynchburg, VA 12 Nov. 2003 http://galenet.galegroup.com/
Wells, Walter, "John Updike's "A & P": a return visit to Araby." Studies in Short Fiction, v30 n2 p127 (7) (Spring 1993), Central Virginia Community College online library, Lynchburg, VA 15 Nov. 2003 http://80-web4.infotrac.galegroup.com/
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