Death in Araby and The Metamorphosis
Many readers have commented on the contrast of light and darkness in the story Araby by James Joyce. Perhaps the death of the priest in Araby adds to the "darkness" that the boy experiences when he is thinking about Mangan's sister, as contrasted with the light he experiences when he is actually in her presence.
It is interesting that the death of the priest does not become so "dark" until Mangan's sister is introduced. In the first scene where the boy visits the priest's old room, he rummages around and finds some treasures, including "paper-covered books," and "the late tenant's rusty bicycle pump." There is no sense of gloom here, in fact, the boy seems to be having fun exploring and discovering things, and reminisces about how the priest "had been a very charitable priest" in a rather disconnected way.
But later, after the boy's crush on Mangan's sister has been introduced, this dead priest's room takes on a very different character. This is the place where the boy retreats on a stormy night while his emotions are churning inside him. It is no longer a place to explore, but has taken on almost a "sacred" character. Here the boy experiences his most impassioned moment of "strange prayers and praises," pressing the palms of his hands together "until they trembled, murmuring: 'Oh Love! Oh Love!' many times." You can almost feel the presence of the dead priest in the room on this "dark rainy evening" as the boy is praying, in a way that you would not feel his presence if he were merely on vacation.
The fact that he has died here in this very room adds to the drama and it intensifies the boy's emotions. Maybe the boy was thinking that the priest was watching him from he...
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...ere really what the family needed to start living their own lives.
In this story the "deaths" of Gregor serve to make obvious where he really stands in the family, and what the real situation is. If he had not turned into a bug and ultimately died, neither he nor the family would have ever known that what he was doing for them wasn't really helping them. Gregor's deaths also showed that the family didn't really care that much about him, and weren't that grateful for his sacrifices. It brings out the contrast between what Gregor was willing to do for his family (die) and what his family was willing to do for him (not very much). They wanted to get rid of him once his condition started demanding too much from them.
Gregor's death turns him into a sort of tragic hero. If the story ended differently, I think readers would feel less sympathetic towards him.
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