Exploration of Symbolism in Younghood in Joyce’s Araby

June 22, 2022 by Essay Writer

In “Araby”, Joyce portrays the transition of a young boy into adulthood, which makes him aware of the difference between real and ideal life. It describes the mundane routine of the society in which he comes across the various circumstances that, finally, makes him realize the reality of life. The symbolic imagery is used throughout the story in order to bring out the theme effectively.

Joyce employs light and dark imagery to describe the boy’s failure to distinguish between fantasies and truth. Light represents the boy’s innocence and his vision for the future with Mangan’s sister while darkness symbolizes the harsh reality which hits him after he sees the bazaar, the loss of his innocence, and marks the beginning of his adulthood. “The dark odorous stables” describes the world around him, which belittles him. For instance, in the class, he sees his master’s face change from “amiability to sternness” shows how his teacher usually doesn’t expect much of him. He struggles to show himself as a grown-up person who is capable of doing worldly things. On the other hand, Mangan’s sister signifies the light. She is the light of his world, and his feelings are so intense that he thinks about all the possibilities of a happy future after she talks to him about Araby.

It is quite ironical that as the Araby bazaar darkens, he sees streetlights “glaring with glass” and the sight of “Twinkling River” which shows that he is only focused on seeing the light as he is hopeful about finding the gift for his love. Lost in all these imaginations, he ignores the darkness that has started to engulf him. When he arrives at the bazaar, the “greater part of the hall was in darkness” (172). He stops a shop looking at vases and teacups owned by an English woman who was more interested in talking with two men than paying attention to him. Soon, darkness takes over the upper part of the hall symbolizing the reality which thrashes his expectations to the ground. He was mostly aware of light until now when he sees himself as the “creature driven by vanity”. The bazaar which until then, he saw as a symbol of freedom from the darkness he was living in, failed his expectations. Suddenly he was no longer an innocent young boy, but an adult, well-aware of his surroundings.

The word “Araby”, it is an allusion to the bazaar held in Dublin from May 14 to 19, 1894 to raise funds for the Jervis Street Hospital. The narrator feels pull towards the Middle East as he hears the reads the “syllables of the word Araby”. For him, Bazaar is like a foreign land which he wants to explore after escaping from his dull and boring life. Mangan’s sister is “brown” in appearance which is also a characteristic of the people of Arabia. But after he visits the bazaar, he relates the brownness of her looks to the monotony of his life and people around him. In the beginning, ‘North Richmond Street’ described as blind symbolizes that boy is ignorant about what does the future hold for him.

“An uninhabited house” indicates the emptiness that awaits him once he comes face to face with reality. He finds “The memoirs of Vidocq” which is the reference to French criminal and detective Francois Vidocq. It shows that even a priest was tired of his tedious routine and job that he read the adventures of Vidocq to wipe out of the boredom just like the narrator who daydreamed about Mangan’s sister to escape into his dream world. Thus, in all these examples, Joyce demonstrates that how expectations differ from reality. The priest is considered as a figure of supremacy in the society, but in reality, he also found novels like “The Abbot” as a form of distraction from his busy schedule just like ordinary beings. All the Dubliners have a colorless lifestyle, in which no room exists for love.

In the end, instead of buying any gift to express his love, he simply accepts his defeat. His infatuation comes to an end just like his notions about Araby bazaar. As maturity hits him, he realizes that his dreams are not consistent with reality.

In “Araby”, Joyce portrays the transition of a young boy into adulthood, which makes him aware of the difference between real and ideal life. It describes the mundane routine of the society in which he comes across the various circumstances that, finally, makes him realize the reality of life. The symbolic imagery is used throughout the story in order to bring out the theme effectively.

Joyce employs light and dark imagery to describe the boy’s failure to distinguish between fantasies and truth. Light represents the boy’s innocence and his vision for the future with Mangan’s sister while darkness symbolizes the harsh reality which hits him after he sees the bazaar, the loss of his innocence, and marks the beginning of his adulthood. “The dark odorous stables” describes the world around him, which belittles him. For instance, in the class, he sees his master’s face change from “amiability to sternness” shows how his teacher usually doesn’t expect much of him. He struggles to show himself as a grown-up person who is capable of doing worldly things. On the other hand, Mangan’s sister signifies the light. She is the light of his world, and his feelings are so intense that he thinks about all the possibilities of a happy future after she talks to him about Araby.

It is quite ironical that as the Araby bazaar darkens, he sees streetlights “glaring with glass” and the sight of “Twinkling River” which shows that he is only focused on seeing the light as he is hopeful about finding the gift for his love. Lost in all these imaginations, he ignores the darkness that has started to engulf him. When he arrives at the bazaar, the “greater part of the hall was in darkness” (172). He stops a shop looking at vases and teacups owned by an English woman who was more interested in talking with two men than paying attention to him. Soon, darkness takes over the upper part of the hall symbolizing the reality which thrashes his expectations to the ground. He was mostly aware of light until now when he sees himself as the “creature driven by vanity”. The bazaar which until then, he saw as a symbol of freedom from the darkness he was living in, failed his expectations. Suddenly he was no longer an innocent young boy, but an adult, well-aware of his surroundings.

The word “Araby”, it is an allusion to the bazaar held in Dublin from May 14 to 19, 1894 to raise funds for the Jervis Street Hospital. The narrator feels pull towards the Middle East as he hears the reads the “syllables of the word Araby”. For him, Bazaar is like a foreign land which he wants to explore after escaping from his dull and boring life. Mangan’s sister is “brown” in appearance which is also a characteristic of the people of Arabia. But after he visits the bazaar, he relates the brownness of her looks to the monotony of his life and people around him. In the beginning, ‘North Richmond Street’ described as blind symbolizes that boy is ignorant about what does the future hold for him.

“An uninhabited house” indicates the emptiness that awaits him once he comes face to face with reality. He finds “The memoirs of Vidocq” which is the reference to French criminal and detective Francois Vidocq. It shows that even a priest was tired of his tedious routine and job that he read the adventures of Vidocq to wipe out of the boredom just like the narrator who daydreamed about Mangan’s sister to escape into his dream world. Thus, in all these examples, Joyce demonstrates that how expectations differ from reality. The priest is considered as a figure of supremacy in the society, but in reality, he also found novels like “The Abbot” as a form of distraction from his busy schedule just like ordinary beings. All the Dubliners have a colorless lifestyle, in which no room exists for love.

In the end, instead of buying any gift to express his love, he simply accepts his defeat. His infatuation comes to an end just like his notions about Araby bazaar. As maturity hits him, he realizes that his dreams are not consistent with reality.

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