Short Story Analysis of “Araby” by James Joyce
In James Joyce’s short story “Araby,” the main character is a young boy who confuses obsession with love. This boy thinks he is in love with a young girl, but all of his thoughts, ideas, and actions show that he is merely obsessed. Throughout this short story, there are many examples that show the boy’s obsession for the girl. There is also evidence that shows the boy does not really understand love or all of the feelings that go along with it.
When the boy first describes the girl, you can see his obsession for her. He seems to notice every detail such as “her dress swung as she moved her body and the soft rope of her hair tossed from side to side” (Joyce 548).
You do not usually remember every minute detail of someone unless you are very intrigued by them. Also, note the way he describes her hair as “soft rope.” This shows the intricate way the boy views her.
Another way you can see the young boy’s obsession for the girl is through his actions. Every morning, he waits for the girl to appear, and then he follows her. The way in which the boy waits for the girl definitely shows that he is obsessed with her. The young boy lies “on the floor in the front parlor watching her. The blind was pulled down to within an inch of the sash so that [he] could not be seen” (Joyce 548).
This sounds like spying, and spying on someone usually indicates that you have a fixation with that person. In this case, the young boy does demonstrate this fixation.
Is it too soon to talk about boy/girl relationships in elementary school? Of course it is, you say! Well, you may not want to hear about it, or you may choose denial over reality, but the fact remains that children are playing out the cultural role that they are being taught as early as 2nd grade. Therefore, the relationship between boys and girls at every school (Christian and non- Christian) is ...
For instance, while the young boy is following her, this is the way he describes his adventure: “I kept her brown figure always in my eye, and when we came near the point at which our ways diverged, I quickened my pace and passed her. This happened morning after morning. I had never spoken to her, except for a few casual words, and yet her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood” (Joyce 548).
This shows that the boy always watches where she is going, and then goes out of his way to get physically closer to her. In this example, you can plainly see that the boy’s actions are being controlled by his obsession for the girl, and not by some great love he has for her.
Another example, that shows the boy’s obsession for the young girl, comes after the two of them have a brief conversation. In the conversation, the young girl asks the young boy if he is “going to Araby” (Joyce 548), and then the girl states that “it would be a splendid bazaar, she would love to go” (Joyce 549), but she is already obligated to something else. Finally, the young boy says, “If I go, I will bring you something (Joyce 549).
After the boy speaks to the girl, he finds it hard to concentrate on anything except for her. This is how the boy describes what he is feeling just after his brief conversation with the young girl:
What innumerable follies laid waste my waking and sleeping thoughts after that evening to annihilate the tedious intervening days. I chafed against the work of school. At night in my bedroom and by day in the classroom her image came between me and the page I strove to read. The syllables of the word Araby were called to me through the silence in which my soul luxuriated and cast an Eastern enchantment over me. (Joyce 549)
In this excerpt, you can plainly see that the boy thinks he is in love with the girl, but in fact he is just obsessed with her. The two of them hardly speak to one another, and yet he is completely intrigued by her. Also, when you love someone the feeling is usually mutual, but it is obvious that the young girl is not in love with him. In their brief conversation, the young girl does not even hint at the notion that she is attracted to the young boy, and her actions do not portray that she is in love with him either.
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The boy thinks that he is a mature person who is in “love,” but through his actions we can see his so called love is just plain immaturity. One example that shows the boy’s immaturity is during school. He did not answer many questions in class, and his teacher’s face went from pleased to displease. The boy also has a hard time controlling his roaming thoughts together. He has “hardly any patience with the serious work of life which, now that it stood between [him] and [his] desire, seemed to [him as] child’s play, ugly monotonous child’s play” (Joyce 549).
You can see, from this quote, that the boy is not focusing on his school work like he should, but instead he is thinking of her. The boy shows, through his actions, that he is just an immature boy with an obsession because a mature person, who is in love, does not let their love control everything they do. Also, a mature person does not let their work or any of their other obligations suffer in the name of love.
Near the end of the short story, the young boy goes to Araby to buy something for the young girl. When he gets there it is very late at night and most of the shops are closed, but one is still open. A shop girl asks the boy if he wants to buy anything, but the boy says no. Then the lights go out, and he is in the dark. As he stands there in the darkness, he sees himself “as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and [his] eyes burn with anguish and anger” (Joyce 551).
I think this is when the young boy realizes that his whole trip to Araby was foolish because a gift from the bazaar is not going to make the young girl love him. The young boy finally realizes that everything he has done has been driven by some foolish notion that he thinks is love, but now he knows it is just a pathetic obsession for the young girl. The young boy’s eyes are burning because he feels so foolish about everything he has done supposedly for love, when he finally realizes all of his thoughts, actions, and ideas were just an obsession.
... love, a love he found on the beaches of the Riviera when he was a boy. The beginning of Humbert's obsession occurred with a young girl ... named Annabel. Annabel was a young beauty, full of ... of Fiction." Twentieth Century Literature 21. 4 (1975): 421-427. Works ConsultedCiancio, Ralph A. "Nabokov and the Verbal Mode of ...