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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Joyce's "Araby": Does the Girl offer an escape from the monotony of Irish life?

“Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity: and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.” (Joyce 26)

These are the last lines of the story. The boy arrives at this narrative comment after discovering the bazaar for the un-exotic, un-exciting, English ruled place that it was. The bazaar is just like Ireland.

The last lines of the story begin to answer the question with a resounding no, because the boy ends in the same “darkness” that he was trying to leave. The “darkness" is the restraint of the stereotypical drunken Irish man, and the duty to the Church. The girl offers an escape from the darkness because she appears outlined in light earlier in the story. The boy’s logic being that: to escape the dark, follow the light. This perceived light that appears to be emanating form the girl is what leads the boy to the bazaar and to “anguish and anger”. The light of the girl provides a false sense of exoticism that is all but banned by the typical Irish life of church and booze.

The boy’s “vanity”, his want for better and a more appealing life, has also led him to “anguish and anger”. The thought that he could escape the drunkenness of his uncle, or the convent school is absurd. The absurdity comes in the expectations of an Irish boy in catholic school, and how flying the boundaries is looked down upon. This is the boy’s "anguish and anger", knowing that he will never break away. The superfluous vanity of his journey derides the boy; it mocks him for even considering leaving, as though some higher power was forcing the boy in his place by showing how exotic the bazaar truly was. The darkness consumes the boy’s life once again, squashing any hope of reaching the light. The girl did not lead him to a way out bland Irish life.

1 comment:

  1. It definitely seemed like the girl offered a false sense of freedom because she was always described as standing so that light shone upon her. But this light was always in very small areas like the curve of her neck, or it shown out from a half open door onto her while she stood in a dark hallway. She was never actually a source of light so it definitely seemed that by going after the girl, the main character was pursuing what he thought was freedom, or "the source", but only realized he had been chasing his vanity.