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Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Brief Analysis of the Religious Significance of the Sister in James Joyce's Araby

"I imagined that I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes.  Her name sprang to my lips at moments in strange prayers and praises which I myself did not understand."

This quote gets right to the heart of the religious significance of the sister in "Araby."  I do believe the sister is very religiously significant, but as a substitute for traditional religion.  First, we have this very religious idea of a "chalice," now, what the chalice may be physically is unimportant.  Perhaps, though, it is a symbol of the boy narrator's lust.  Carrying it through a throng of "foes" suggests that the other people in his life, the other Dubliners with their traditionally religious lives, are the foes.  And after that we have this idea of the boy praying directly to the sister.  He is not praying to God, but instead this erotic symbol of an exciting and lustful future.  She is a substitute for religion.  Why, though, should this substitute need to exist?  This girl and also the bazaar, named Araby, are the exciting antitheses of Catholicism, which is a religion based on repetition and ritual, much like the day to day life of the boy.  His days are filled with monotony, he waits through school and a long supper at his house before he is able to go to this bazaar, whose name suggests Eastern excitement.  The Sister, and through her the bazaar, become for the boy the religion of change, excitement, and lust.  It is because of increasingly monotonous and imperial pressures, though, that he is unable to have his desires satisfactorily met.

1 comment:

  1. One passage in the text which I think you could mention to support your point would be the second paragraph in the story, starting in line 7. The boy is now living in the house of a dead Catholic priest, which I think foreshadows this abandonment of religion for the girl.