The Tragedy of Araby
In James Joyces Araby, a young boy finds himself in love with an older girl. The girl, Mangans sister, refuses to love him back and instead ignores him. This crushes the boy and makes his hunger for her even more stronger. He sometimes finds himself hopelessly alone in the darkness thinking about her, awaiting for the day she would recognize his devotion to her. At night in my bedroomher image came between me and the page I strove to read (805). At last she spoke to me (805). She asked him if he was going to attend a popular carnival called Araby. Unfortunately, she was unable to go, and it was up to him to bring her something back. This became his journey and adventure that he could not wait for. I wished to annihilate the tedious intervening days (805). When he finally arrived at Araby he found himself, once again alone in the darkness, due to the fact that it was closing time. Nearly all the stalls were closed down already, except one. When he approached to the open stall to buy a special present for his loved one, he was by the saleswomens mean and annoyed tone of voice, when she asked him if he would like to buy anything. She seem to have spoken to me out of a sense of duty (807). His only response was a disappointed No thank you (807). He was obviously heartbroken and shocked that he was unable to accomplish his task, and make the love of his life love him the same way he loves her. This young boy is introduced to disappointment of disillusionment through the themes of isolation, dark and light images, and hopelessness an decay.
The motif of isolation has a continuous pattern throughout the story. It has a physical significance, as well as an emotional significance. It seems to find a part in the life of everyone in the community. There are many situations in the story where the boy feels separated and detached from Mangans sister, his love. His feelings for her are so strong that he feels he needs to isolate himself in order to keep her out of reach. Even though they barley communicate, the mere image of her brings him much happiness. As the boy illustrates I have never spoken to her, except for a few casual words, and yet her name was like summons to all my foolish blood. () Whenever he is gazing at her and watching her figure, he tends to always be hidden, whether its behind a railing, or on the other side of a window. Every morning I lay on the floor in front of the parlor watching her door. The blind was pulled down to within an inch of the sash so that I could not be seen (). Even the boys house is isolated from the whole neighborhood because its located at the end of the street. The bicycle is rusty and does not work, therefore, there is no transportation; in a sense they are trapped. When the boy was traveling to the carnival he was all alone in the carriage. Finally when he got to Araby it was unfortunately closing down and he was alone again. Being alone in the carriage and at the carnival diminishes him as a person, and lowers him to a level, which makes him feel like he is a pariah; different and alone from the world. At the time he got to the carnival every one were already gone. The people are in bed and after their first sleep now. () Not only is he feeling alone but he finds himself surrounded by darkness and other dark/light images.
There are many dark and light images throughout the story. The dark imagery seems to speak for itself. It has a joyless, gloomy, sad, and obviously devoid of light type of message, to it. Even the tone of the story has this kind of impression. However, this is exactly how the boy describes the aura of the neighborhood. The majority of the objects, people, and places are described through darkness. For example, the houses are illustrated as having brown imperturbable faces, meaning that there are traces of darkness both externally and internally. Also the season of the story is early winter. When the sun sets earlier and it becomes darker and darker as days go by. While the children are playing in the dark muddy lanes, Mangans sister is in the shadow surrounded by light, and the adults are in the house with lamps shining light. The light in this story represents maturity and knowledge. Mangans sister was always ensconced by light. Whether she was standing near a half opened door with light shinning through, wearing a white petticoat, or playing with her bright silver bracelet, she always seemed to be circled by light. Seeing nothing but a brown clad figure cast by my imagination, touched discreetly by the lamp light at the curved neck, at the hand upon the railings and that the bored below the dress (806). Her brightness represented how the boy felt about her. She was his light, and sunshine constantly wrapped by brightness. Toward the end of the story, he reaches a disappointed moment of his life. At Araby he is later visualized walking alone in the dark halls of the carnival, hearing a guard yell that the lights are out and the upper part of the hall was now completely dark. Sadly his light was out as well. This is when he reaches the downhill of his life, which explains the decay and hopelessness motif.
The theme of decay and hopelessness creeps into every crevice of the story. It seeps into the boys life and dreams through the very pursuit of his happiness. The boys life is on a downhill trend from the beginning, even his very tone expresses his desires and sadness. He is a little boy with a big crush in an even bigger world, where thing dont always go as expected. The boy acknowledges this in his innocent heart and soul, at the carnival, when he is deprived of accomplishing his biggest and most important journey; bringing his love something very special from Araby. This task was extremely vital to him, and it was left uncompleted. The reason that the boy could not get to Araby on time was because his uncle arrived home late, because he had forgotten about him. That was a very cruel thing to do knowing how important this was for his nephew, he reminded his uncle many times. The uncles response was The people are in bed and after their fist sleep now( ). The motif of decay is seen in some symbolism too. The apple tree in the wild garden is symbolic to the tree of knowledge. However, the tree in the story is wild, meaning that knowledge is limited in the neighborhood. For example, when the previous owner, the priest, of the boys house had died, he had given all his money to charity and left his sister with nothing but old and used furniture.