Joyce’s “Araby”: From Innocence to Experience (Published)
ABSTRACT: James Joyce’s short story “Araby” depicts an adolescent boy’s experience of the bleakness of reality gained through the loss of innocence. The boy undergoes the tribulations of real life while in quest of ideal beauty, love and romance. The story opens with a description of the Dublin neighbourhood–the ‘blind’ North Richmond Street at the end of which the boy lives with his uncle and aunt in an uninhabited house in conservative Catholic cultures. All these are intimated with dismal surroundings suggesting disappointment from the very outset. This gloomy and dreary atmosphere narrows down the boy’s world and confines his spirit. Everywhere in his dark surroundings, the lonely, imaginative, and isolated boy seeks the ‘light’ and a relish of romance. Into this world of darkness appears a girl, Mangan’s sister. To the boy, the girl is the embodiment of romance and ideal beauty. She is the light in his romantic fantasy, someone who will lift him out of darkness he believes. But, when he is entrapped in physical attraction with her, the girl becomes a threat to the boy’s religious faith and likewise leads him away from a state of innocence because Dublin is “a place of asceticism where desire and sensuality are seen as immoral”1. The boy, however, wishes to win her over by bringing her a gift from an oriental bazaar, Araby, which, to his young heart, is also an epitome of ideal beauty and romantic grandeur. As the boy is growing up, the bazaar gets emblematic for the difficulty of the adult world in which the boy fails to navigate. His dreams crumble. This Araby, like a silent assassin, devours his all fancies and yearnings. He experiences a shattering epiphany, his boyish fantasies are dashed by the grim realities of life in Dublin and consequently he develops a new perspective on life. Therefore, this paper is an attempt to substantiate how a young boy gains experience through the loss of his innocence.
KEYWORDS: Araby, Adolescence, Disillusionment, Experience, Innocence, Love