Thursday, August 9, 2012

Focused Interpretation- “Araby”

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The story “Araby” taken from James Joyce’s Dubliners is essentially about a young boy who is youthfully blind to the environment around him in love and life, and then roused by adulthood in his atmospheric surroundings. Everything about this story is sightless the streets, the houses, the people, and especially our young main character. The atmosphere surrounding him provides the young boy with un-truths and false dreams.

The short story begins with, “ North Richmond Street, being blind”(15), blind is used here to mean dead end; the street in which the main character finds himself living on is described here as dead, unsighted. The houses are then described with animated qualities “Detached from its neighbors…conscious of decent lives within them…gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces” (15). North Richmond Street is described allegorically and allows one a first glimpse into the world of the boy. Those who are aware, un-dead to the world, would feel dispirited and threatened by North Richmond Street, however the boys aunt and uncle do not feel in jeopardy, but are inconspicuously complacent.

The environment of blindness expands from a common view of the street and its residents to the boys own personal relationships. The uncles failure to arrive home in time for the boy to go to the bazaar while it is still open is due to a lack of understanding or empathy on the uncle’ s part. The uncle has most likely been out drinking at a nearby pub, as Joyce reflects his characters doing throughout his stories, inattentive and unmoved by the boys restlessness and angst. The boy waits long into the evening in the imperturbable house. The house, like the aunt and uncle, is a reflection of people that are good, but constricted in their positions and in their principles. The consequence of such a setting is an atmosphere secluded and unsighted.

In this environment, the boy comes upon his first love, and begins to have sweet idealistic dreams. The boy sees not reality amid the curses of labourers(16), jostled by drunken men and bargaining women(16), as he carries his aunts parcels while she shops in the market place, he imagines that he carries not parcels, but a chalice through a throng of foes(16). The noises converged in a single sensation of life(16) and in a coming together of romantic and sacred symbols he creates for himself a spellbindingly perfect young woman. The setting in this scene depicts the harsh reality of life which the boy chooses to blindly ignore.

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The boy finally wakes to the world around him. The cheap glitziness of the bazaar, which in the boy’s mind had been an Oriental enchantment, rips his blindness away from him and leaves him facing reality, actual and cruel. The bazaar is now dark and bare; it flourishes by the same means as the market place (two men were counting money on a salver(1)); love is epitomized as a vacant, transient flirtation.

Araby is a story of first love; even more, it is a representation of a world that resist sight and reality. Although so much of the story points to “detached” “imperturbable” imagery, the boy saw more than this in his surroundings, in his love. Thus setting in this story becomes the true subject, personifying an atmosphere of paralysis for which the young boy’s dreams are no match. Realizing this, the boy takes his first step into adulthood, just as many of Joyce’s character’s find themselves doing in Dubliners. “The Sisters”, “An Encounter”, and “Araby” all tell stories of childhood, and at the end the child in some way sees the atmosphere around him through new eyes, less blinded by dreams and fantasies of childhood, stepping forward toward life as an adult. In “The Sisters”, death is an awakening experience for the young boy, as in “The Encounter” an environment filled with insecurity and fear opens his young eyes. Each of these stories shares the common bond of youthful blindness and an atmosphere that awakens, for the first time, truthful sight.

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