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Araby is James Joyce’s quick story that was published in 1914 in Ireland. The story is about the narrator, a boy who falls in love with an older girl; his friend’s sister. He is obsessed with this girl to the extent that he forgets about the necessary things in his life as a result of day-dreaming. He follows her on her way to college but never talks to her. When he promises to get her a present from the bazaar, he discovers that he his fortune is inadequate to afford any decent existing for her. This story is based on the frustrations of the narrator out of inadequacy. He wants things that are out of his reach, and he can only dream about them.
The narrator thinks of romantic love which is permissible for older individuals. When he develops a crush on Mangan’s sister, his description of her vividly shows his “confused adoration” (5). However, due to their age differences, and also, because they are still children, the narrator has little hope of talking to her about any feelings he possesses.
Poverty is a source of frustration in the life of the narrator. Based on the narration, the reader is told that he lives with his aunt and uncle in a dead priest’s house. His uncle is unable to take him because he arrives home late. He gives him a small amount of money. After coming to the bazaar, he realizes that he can hardly afford any gift, a situation that frustrates him. He says, “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger” (7).
The narrator is angry with himself for having deviated all his attention from other matters to chase after a girl that he can hardly have. He is also disappointed in his uncle as he is the reason for the missed bazaar. The two main points discussed above express the core theme of the short story, which is frustration.
Joyce, J. (2014). Araby: Short Story. Harper Collins.
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