Araby by James Joyce

Essay by dianfigueroa June 2004

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Araby, it's overall theme is the boy's realization of his fall from grace. Within the story Joyce foreshadows this epiphany by using phrases such as "feeling I was about to slip..", in reference to his praying, or when approaching the booth at the bazaar he "listened to the fall of the coins". In general, the word "fall", or words of a similar definition appear five times throughout the story. After the boy's uncle finally returns home drunk, he is given the money to go to the bazaar. Quite symbolic however is the poem that his uncle mentions as he walks out the door. The Arab's Farewell to his Steed, a poem by Caroline Norton was a popular work at the time. It is about a boy who sells his beloved horse for a few gold coins, but upon the horse being led away, the boy chases the man he sold it to in order to return the money and regain the horse.

Though the boy misses the message, it is clear to the reader that he will soon realize that the love of the girl can not be bought. When he arrives at Araby, it is nearly deserted. He hastily enters through a more expensive gate, as opposed to looking for a sixpenny entrance as to make sure he gets in before it closes. The odd silence is compared to that of a church after services. As he walks toward a booth with vases and tea sets, Joyce mentions that the boy recognizes the voices of those selling the wares as English. He is treated in a very condescending manner, and his realization is beginning to manifest. This bazaar, though one of materialism captured his attention for the weeks before, in addition to his being hypnotized by the...