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Contrast Of Darkness And Light In Araby

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Araby is a short story written by James Joyce about a boy from Dublin, Ireland; who falls in love with neighbor girl. When the narrator finds the library left behind by the former tenant narrator is left intrigued. When the girl narrator infatuates about asks him if he is going to certain baazar, narrator promises her to bring back something to try and impress her. Whatsoever, his plan delays and after finally reaching the market, if finds that market is not as how he imagined it, which forces him to reflect on his own life, his infatuation towards the girl. Sometimes our disillusionment could give rise to self-awakening.

The main protagonist of the story the narrator himself, develops a crush on Mangan’s sister. Which to him is not something he has felt before, as depicted in the story, “I imagined that I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes” (111) we can analyze that narrator created the fantasy in which she is sacred and pure, and we see that narrator experiences his crush on religious aspect. “The light from the lamp opposite our door caught the white curve of her neck, lit up her hair that rested there and, falling, lip up the hand upon the railing.” (112) In narrator’s fantasy world, she is like an angel, only light that narrator could see in the dark Dublin setting. Mangan’s sister to narrator is an escape from dull Dublin street, and everything else is a backdrop to him.

The main conflict of the story is narrator’s imagination versus his reality. Narrator longs for his reality to match his fantasy world. Engrossed in his fantasy, everyday activities are mundane; and only thing that drives him forward is seeing Mangan’s sister. The external conflict is his surrounding, dull Dublin street. “When we met in the street the houses had grown somber.” (110) We can see the narrator choice of using darker adjectives to describe his surrounding which reflects the darkness of his world. The imagery of his surrounding is monotonous; therefore, he tries to find an alternative to his “blind” street.

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Araby takes place on a quite North Richmond street, in Dublin, Ireland surrounded by old rustic buildings, by establishing this setting, it provides us with essential and vital facts to help us discover important details of the story, and these details are evident throughout the story. Narrator has spent his adolescent life playing in the street of Dublin, and we can visualize the street, and how he uses them to define emotions attached with it. I think the most important setting is where the Araby baazar takes place. As baazar is described as dark, lifeless place, as it is already late and most of the shops are closed. Since going to baazar was part of narrator imaginary world; which he thought so highly of, upon realizing the gloominess of the baazar that adolescent boy is forced towards his first step toward the adulthood.

Joyce uses first person narrative point of view to tell the story. Since the story is told from the perspective of adolescent boy and how he views the world around him. By using first person narrative it illuminates the experience of the character, and it makes reader easier to understand the inner life of the character, and it also gives us insight of how a character comes a certain conclusion. In the case of Araby, we can understand how a young boy is on a religious quest, to win the love of a girl, who from a narrator perspective is a representation of an angel, and how going to market is like pilgrimage.

As language is integral part which embodies the story’s essence. We can see the author’s choice of word, setting, and character which reflects the tone of the story and character dynamics. As per the story, we can analyze that the narrator is pessimistic even in his bland and gloomy world, and Joyce’s use of imagery and symbolism depicts the story in such way which is open to any interpretation. But mainly I liked Joyce’s use of metaphor to describe the setting and minor character, Mangan’s sister; in which she is described in religious aspect. From these use of metaphor we can infer that narrator finds himself in religious quest, where as a girl is representation of angel, and he is her devotee.

Araby is story which shows us the contrast of darkness and light. From narrator’s abandon blind street houses to Araby baazar, from the point of view of narrator they are all bland and dull. Therefore, he tries to find a sense of escape from his dark world, through his fantasy, he creates a world where a girl he infatuates for is only light that he can see in his adolescent world. Although as a result of his illusion he is forced to contemplate his fantasy and come to a realization that he is fooling himself through his imagination of how the world should be rather than how the world really is.

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Contrast Of Darkness And Light In Araby. (2021, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from
“Contrast Of Darkness And Light In Araby.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2021,
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