James Joyce's Araby


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Araby: Joycean Romanticism of the Church

     Life is filled with loneliness and times when a person feels unsure. When these times arise is when most people turn to their faith in the church or faith in fate. Certain events in one’s life can send them reeling for something that they can find solace in. Security from the turbulent world is given through faith and hope. When times are at there hardest what can you do? Without faith you can get stuck, and slowly dragged down by the world decaying around you. In the story Araby by James Joyce you find what happens when you give up on faith. He also loses faith in romantic love, religious love, and material love. Evidence of this is found in the form of sexual, spiritual, and financial experiences throughout the story. The story is a more modern symbolism of the fall Of the Garden of Eden.
     James Joyce speaks of the death of the Church. Joyce grew up in Dublin, Ireland and was raised as a Roman-Catholic. He lost faith in the Church early in his life, which is proved by the beginning of Araby. Araby is a short story from Dubliner’s that tells of a young boy’s revival to move away from the church and to live his life as he chooses. In the beginning of the story Joyce makes a reference to blindness. This refers to his sense of reality. The boys at the Catholic school have been trapped by the church and cannot escape. Joyce longs to be free of the church and wishes that he could relinquish the ties that bind him to it, like the house. The house was formerly own by a priest who has since passed away. The death of the priest signifies the death of the church. The priest also has more significance to the story. He also represents the hypocrisy of the church. Although the priest was thought of as charitable he dies with a substantial sum of money which gives the impression that he had not been as charitable as he possibly could have been.
     Joyce also shows the deviance of a young boy as a peeping tom. Mangan’s sister is the object of his affection. He sees in her what most would see in the Virgin Mary. She is illuminated in all of the splendor that would be found in that of a religious icon.

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The boy doesn’t realize that he is sexually attracted to Mangan’s sister. It may be because of the influence of the church on all of his life. When the boy thinks of the girl he thinks of her not in a sexual manner but in a religious one. He confesses that he doesn’t understand why he is feeling confused about what he wants. One evening the boy is left alone on a rainy night. He is in the back drawing room and the evidence of his sexual tension. Trying to suppress his sexual feeling for the girl he feels his senses, “seem to desire and veil themselves until I felt I was about to slip.” This line refers to a classic masturbatory situation for the young boy. The murmuring of “O love, O love.” Refers to the climax of his sexual tension.
     The trip to Araby shows his final realization. His trip will show the boys thoughts on materialistic love. It shows that some people will give up anything for the promise for something in return. When the boy receives a florin from his father, which is a considerable amount of money for a young boy in the Victorian era, he proceeds to spend it foolishly. His trip to the fair takes him on a long journey to find his prize, the promise of a night with the girl. He spends his money rashly, which represents why he doesn’t think before he makes his decision about the girl. His journey also brings him to enlightenment.
     His enlightenment comes when he once again finds himself all alone. This discovery leads the boy to finally see, which ties in with the blindness from the beginning of the story. He realizes the vulgarity of his quest in the eyes of the church and finds that his animal desire had overwritten the teachings of the church. His realization: Like every one else. He is human.


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