Araby by James Joyce is an incredible story that depicts the protagonists memories related to the feelings of his first love. The author shows that a boy recollects the past including the most sacred moments of his life. The plot makes a reader immerse into the storyline of the short story from the very beginning. The main character lives in the world of imagination unknown to others. He sincerely shares his feelings that gradually fill his mind and make him vulnerable. Unfortunately, love becomes his obsession and brings nothing more vital that disappointment. Thus, the protagonist represents his life journey while mentioning his first love that transforms him into another person.
Memories are an integral part of the protagonist's life as they define him as a personality despite his young age. In the story Araby, Joyce writes about a boy who lives detached from reality because all his memories draw his attention anytime. In fact, he is a narrator of the story, and therefore, the entire storyline is full of images created in his mind. In other words, he represents each part of his ordinary life in a particular manner based on an illusion of something imaginative. He devotes a considerable part of his narrative story to an old house he lives in as it relates to his family. The boy does not give a detailed description of his house; nevertheless, he mentions such elements as a garden with trees, old yellow books, and the priest who used to live there many years ago. It is obvious that both the street and the house live in his mind as they symbolize the part of his life called journey. He indicates, The other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces (Joyce). It means that he remembers everything, as all these things are precious to him. They make his life complete and meaningful. However, the plot revolves around the girl as he and all his friends pay attention to her.
Love is a driving force that directs the main character towards a new life the life of joy and despair at the same time. Joyce portrays the boy who experiences new feelings, as he is unable to cope with confusion and frustration. The title of the story represents the hidden desire of the protagonist as it may lead him closer to his dream. Even though the title Araby sounds general, it has a direct and indirect meaning. In fact, it is more than just a simple opportunity to go to the market. It is evident that it may be a wonderful opportunity for the boy to spend at least several hours with an object of his adoration. The words 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 reveal the image of the girl exists in his mind and reigns over him (Joyce). It is evident that the protagonist cannot oppose his new feelings even if they torture him. Perhaps, he realizes it himself and blindly follows his heart. Undoubtedly, it is hard to overcome any emotional state at the early age, as everything seems to be inexplicable.
Temptation compels the narrator to create a romantic image connected with religious and erotic desires. In fact, the reader does not know any personal information about the girl. The only thing is that she is Mangan's sister who attracts the narrator because of her natural beauty. Her image dramatically affects him as he begins to change his childish energy to the sad impressions. That is why he says, Her image accompanied me even in places the most hostile to romance (Joyce). His feelings grow more and more intense, which makes him confused. It becomes too obvious that the narrator rejects reality because of his desire to go to the bazaar. However, the boy realizes that it is impossible to have any relationship with the girl. He desperately longs for his dream, which may be considered as a sexual awakening despite his immaturity. Moreover, the narrator personally dramatizes his feelings while having a conversation with himself. He muses on the stream of life day and night. Additionally, his words My eyes were often full of tears (I could not tell why) and at times a flood from my heart seemed to pour itself out into my bosom. I thought little of the future (Joyce) emphasize that his mind does not belong to him anymore. Eventually, the reader understands that these feelings reflect the inner conflict of the protagonist who does not see any appropriate solution.
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Melancholy runs through the entire storyline as it anticipates each action of the narrator. The reader understands that all events interact with each other. Unfortunately, love becomes a killing feeling as it makes the boy feel miserable. One may think that the boy tries to find himself as an individual. While searching for the sense of his life, he experiences some difficulties in finding his place among the people and objects that surround him. It seems that he loses a part of his soul while dreaming about his love. He muses on the girl and mentions, All my senses seemed to desire to veil themselves and, feeling that I was about to slip from them, I pressed the palms of my hands together until they trembled, murmuring: O love! O love! many times (Joyce). In this case, one may see that the narrator has neither moral nor physical ability to express his true feelings. He is afraid of his first love, which looks like an obsession. Unfortunately, his fears lead him to nothingness, and he gradually sinks in solitude. The boy encounters different obstacles based on the inability to solve his conflict. Finally, he learns that the bazaar may be the last hope for the fulfillment of his dream. However, the only person does not give him any chance to accomplish his desire as the bazaar is closed, and his single love has no sense because is a liar.
One day destroys the protagonist's dreams due to one irreversible mistake made by his uncle. The author shows that the world of imagination is over, as the boys dream does not come true. Unfortunately, he cannot keep his promise to give the girl a present. It is evident that his destiny does not help him to achieve his initial goal to see his desirable beauty. God is definitely against him. Moreover, the author uses the elements of religion by including Christianity in the plot. Perhaps, the use of religion somehow controls the narrator's actions. He rushes to the bazaar even not suspecting that he is going to waste his time. Moreover, the boy does not suspect that the feeling of despair may destroy him as a personality. On the other hand, the presence of religion and the way of the narrator's behavior has much in common with the code of honor during the medieval period. He has some features similar to those of the ancient knights and their attitude towards the objects of their adoration. The narrator also praises his girl as if he is a real knight, and he even cannot imagine how to establish a communication with her. His last words show that he is disappointed and he feels miserable. Anger fills his mind with anxiety, and all the memories become painful. Eventually, one deed of his uncle breaks his life into pieces.
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In conclusion, the story Araby by James Joyce is a literary masterpiece that represents the life of the protagonist through his memories about the first love. The life journey does not bring the narrator any moral satisfaction but it causes his inner fears to increase. As a result, he learns how to live a new life based on loneliness and sadness that gradually overwhelm his soul. The narrator's obsession turns him into a miserable creature that cannot cope with his sufferings. Undoubtedly, life has no sense, and love merely contributes to his emptiness. The world of imagination stops its existence, and reality reveals its relentlessness.