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The Boy In James Joyces Araby

The setting in Araby reinforces the theme and characters by using imagery of light and darkness. The experiences of the boy in James Joyces Araby illustrate how people often expect more than reality can provide and become disillusioned and disappointed. The author uses dark and obscure references to make the boys reality of living in a gloomy town more vivid. He uses gloomy references to create the mood of the story, and then changes to bright light references when talking about Mangans sister. The story expresses its theme through the setting, the characterization of the boy, and his point of view as the narrator.

Darkness is used throughout the story as the prevailing theme. Joyce begins the story at dusk and continues through the evening during the winter. He chooses this depressing setting to be the home of a young boy who is infatuated with his neighbors sister. The boy is young and nave and leads a boring life. I sat staring at the clock for some time and, when its ticking began to irritate me, I left the room. I mounted the staircase and gained the upper part of the house. The high, cold, empty, gloomy rooms liberated me and I went from room to room singing. From the front window I saw my companions playing below in the street.

Their cries reached me weakened and indistinct and, leaning my forehead against the cool glass, I looked over at the dark house where she lived. Joyce uses darkness to make the boys reality more believable through more vivid precise descriptions. The dark illusion the boy experiences are all part of growing up. North Richmond Street is described metaphorically and presents the reader with his first view of the boys world. The street is blind, it is a dead end, and its inhabitants are smugly content. The houses are imperturbable in the quiet, the cold, the dark muddy lanes, and dark dripping gardens.

The first use of situational irony is introduced here because anyone who is aware, who is not morally blinded or asleep, would feel oppressed and endangered by North Richmond Street. The people who live there are not threatened; instead they are falsely pious and self-satisfied. Another use of symbolic description is of the dead priest and his belongings. This suggests bits and pieces of a more vital past. The bicycle-pump rusting in the rain in the backyard and the old yellow books in the backroom indicate that the priest once actively engaged in service to God and man.

The tittles of the books suggest that he was a person given to both piety and flights of imagination, but he is dead, his pump rusts, and his books yellow. This effect is to deepen, through a sense of a dead past, the spiritual and intellectual stagnation of the present. Into this atmosphere of spiritual paralysis the boy bears, with blind hopes, and romantic dreams, his encounter with first love. In the face of ugly, drab reality amid the curses of laborers, jostled by drunken men and bargaining women, he carries his aunts parcels as she shops in the marketplace, imagining that he bears not parcels, but a chalice through a throng of foes.

The noises converged in a single sensation of life and with the blending of romantic and Christian symbols he transforms an ordinary girl into and enchanted princess: untouchable, promising, and saintly. Setting in this scene depicts the harsh, dirty reality that the boy blindly and selfishly ignores. The contrast between what is real and the boys dreams is ironically drawn and clearly foreshadows the boys inability to keep the dream, and remain blind. Bright light is used to create a fairy tale world of dreams and illusions. James Joyce uses the bright light when describing the boys infatuation for Mangans sister.

While she spoke she turned a silver bracelet round and round her wrist. She could not go, she said, because there would be a retreat that week in her convent. Her brother and two other boys were fighting for their caps and I was alone at the railings. She held one of the spikes, bowing her head towards me. The light from the lamp opposite our door caught the white curve of her neck, lit up her hair that rested there and, falling, lit up the hand upon the railing. It fell over one side of her dress and caught the white border of a petticoat, just visible as she stood at ease.

He imagines that he will heroically bring her back something from the bazaar because his obsession with her has taken complete control of his mind. Joyce refers to bright light when describing the girl in order to give her a heavenly presence. The light is also used to create a joyful atmosphere. The boys final disappointment occurs as a result of his awakening to the world around him. The tawdriness of the bazaar, which in his mind had been an Oriental enchantment, strips away his blindness and leaves him alone with the realization that life and love differ from the dream.

Araby, the symbolic temple of love is profane. The bazaar is dark and empty; it thrives on the same profit motive as the marketplace, two men were counting money on a salver. Love is represented as an empty, passing flirtation. The ending of the story is filled with images of both darkness and light. James Joyce uses the lights of the bazaar to illustrate the boys confrontation with reality. The bazaar lights are almost all off because the bazaar is almost closed. This is significant because the boy wants the bazaar to be bright and open, but instead it is dark and closing.

This is when he finally realizes that life is not what he had dreamt it to be. He finds himself angry at life and disillusioned. Araby is a story of first love; even more, it is a portrait of a world that defies the ideal and the dream. James Joyce uses setting to symbolize a key concept of the story. The dark illusions the boy experiences are all part of growing up. He is no longer young and nave, he has grown up and become disappointed with life. Araby shows how we all get ideas about what may happen in the near future and then feel disappointed with ourselves when nothing happens as expected.

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