James Joyce – Araby How does setting progress the story? In James Joyce’s Araby setting takes center stage immediately to capture the readers interest. Joyce goes into great detail to describe his surroundings so that his narrator’s emotions may be magnified. Joyce uses setting as well as other literary devices in order to do this. Setting in a story is vital to develop a character. Joyce first describes the street his character lives on as “being blind,” (262) and that the only time the street comes alive is when the boys are let out of school. Joyce refers to this as the boys being set free. The neighborhood is described as isolated and dreary.
“The other houses on the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces. ” (262) This creates an image of isolation and uneasiness. The neighborhood is one that has much to be desired but the boys make the most of it. They are very interested in the adult world and we learn this when they are represented by their spying on the narrator’s uncle and even more importantly Mangan’s sister. The narrator takes great interest in her and this gives the reader some inspiration to the story. When the boy is finally presented with the chance to talk to Mangan’s sister he does not know what to say.
“At last she spoke to me. When she addressed the first words to me I was so confused that I did not know what to answer. ” (263) When he is finally able to respond he suggests he will get Mangan’s sister form the bazaar. This introduces us to the excitement of the boy and his quest to win Mangan’s sister over. All to quickly the boy plans to win over Mangan’s sister are crushed when his uncle forgets that he has to take him to the bazaar. When the narrator finally gets to the Araby market he describes it exactly as the sort of dreary dark market you would expect in the Dublin Joyce describes. Not only do the shop keepers pay much attention to him, he does not have enough money to buy anything for Mangan’s sister. This realization that his quest is hopeless leaves the boy angry and hopeless. Joyce ends the story with “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger. ” (265)
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