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James Joyce's Araby - Setting in Araby Essay

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Setting in James Joyce's Araby  


In the opening paragraphs of James Joyce's short story, "Araby," the setting takes center stage to the narrator. Joyce tends carefully to the exquisite detail of personifying his setting, so that the narrator's emotions may be enhanced. To create a genuine sense of mood, and reality, Joyce uses many techniques such as first person narration, style of prose, imagery, and most of all setting. The setting of a short story is vital to the development of character.

In the opening paragraph, North Richmond Street is introduced as "blind," and "quiet", yet on it rests another house which is unoccupied. The narrator states that the house is, "Detached," from the others on the street, but that, "The other houses on the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces" (379). This creates an image of isolation, and uncertainty, for the one uninhabited house. The image of the lone house, lays in the shadows of the crowd of other houses who stand so remarkably calm, and collected. This enhances the image of the adolescent narrator, and perhaps foreshadows, his blind inclination towards self discovery on the road of life.

The image also evokes that of the uncomfortable affect a group of peers may cast upon the isolated teen. Will steady doses of rejection and alienation drive the narrator to darker days ahead? He lives with his aunt and uncle, and there is no mention of his real parents. Whether he was abandoned, unwanted, or orphaned remains a mystery. In fact it may be that the narrator simply has no outlet through which to exercise his fragile emotions and thoughts. He has friends, but none to any degree of intimacy, his playful innocence pron...


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...y perception of the reader, with the placement of the physical aspects conveying double meaning. Briefly foreshadowed, the religiousness with which he experiences his boyhood fancy, has all but abandoned and betrayed him. He recognizes the, "...silence like that which pervades a church after a service" (382). The bazaar has been emptied all the life within in it and become a cold inhospitable environment. The narrator is left again in his isolation in the middle of the bazaar, failed and dejected. He states, "Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger" (383). Perhaps it is life itself that is the religious experience worth living for, but one evolving from the inner spirit of the self in a great moment of epiphany.

Works Cited:

Joyce, James. “Araby”. Kirszner and Mandell 226.


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