"Araby" By James Joyce: Parallel Life Of Main Character

In this analysis I will be focusing on excerpt 1, one paragraph at a time, while interpreting each paragraph with the story as a whole. My focus will lie on the imagery, symbolism and metaphors contrasted with the theme and the single effect of the work. The first paragraph in Araby illustrates how Joyce utilises metaphors instilling the sense of personification on to inanimates, portraying a street as blind and a house as conscious and capable of gazing. This can be interpreted as symbolism for the single effect of the short story, tying together the epiphany in the conclusion of Araby with its personificative imagery in the exposition.

Where the single effect is how the boy is living a parallel life, a fantasy, an illusion, in some sense devoid of reality driven by tenacious emotions which have taken control of him. The boy's painting of reality went from a one dimensional piece to an intricacy with innumerable interpretations; The boy had been just as blind as the street, just as detached from reality as the uninhabited house from its neighbours (see the second sentence), but he had in the conclusion begun to see his reality, as illustrated in the very last sentence of Araby, where Joyce once again cleverly uses the word “gazing”. In the second paragraph, Joyce writes about the house, which in my mind is a symbol, a representation, of the boy's narrow view of reality. In the house he finds three books, instead of reading them and pondering their meaning, he is drawn to one book in particular because “its leaves were yellow”.

This is another parallel to the theme and the single effect of the work, the boy is drawn to whatever attracts him without deeper thought: He is uncontrollably drawn to an emotion or thought provoked by his friend's sister, his romanticised notion of a bazaar and to a yellow colour – Not necessarily to the girl herself, not necessarily by the bazaar in itself and certainly not the book by itself, but the illusory notion of it. The third paragraph is more focused on the tone of the story, describing the setting as “sombre” and repetitively using the adjective “dark” to convey the atmosphere, juxtaposed with the main character and his friend's playful attitude, unaware of the encompassing darkness. Meaning that despite the dull and dark reality, they live in their own little bubble, playing their own little games, not noticing the world for what it is. The main character views the world from a pane in his bubble of fantasy, spying on his uncle and his friend's sister who are living in the reality.

15 Jun 2020
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