In the short story “Araby” James Joyce introduces us to a protagonist, who is an egotistical and self-absorbed young man. He remains an anonymous individual living in a secluded fantasy. A major theme of narcissism runs throughout the story.
The story takes place in a dark and gloomy area known as North Richmond Street on which the boy’s house is located. The street is a dead end and is blind to its surroundings. The boy recalls how he would run through the back lanes of the houses and hide in the shadows avoiding the adults around him. In his quiet moments he reminisces about a priest who died in the house previously. The priest, opposite from himself, was very giving and unselfish individual. The neighborhood is brought to life only by the children’s illuminated imagination.
The narrator begins each day with thoughts of Magan’s sister. He hides in the front room of his house and waits for to appear. He develops an infatuation for her and is constantly consumed by her vision. He is more interested in the idealization of obtaining his crush, rather then getting to know her. His thoughts of love begin to interfere with his daily tasks. His mundane life suddenly has a glimmer of hope. Realistically however, he has not invested anytime in getting to know her. This tainted love is domed from the start. He is self-absorbed by this fantasy that has no future.
At last, Magan speaks to the narrator. Not knowing about his infatuation with her, she friendly asks him if he is going to “Araby.” Shocked that she approached him, he becomes speechless in the moment. He is consumed by his high expectations of her and promises to go to the bazaar and bring her back a gift. This brief encounter brings on a period of restlessness and anticipation to fulfill his promise. This situation only becomes worse as the day progresses. His schoolwork becomes tedious and a distraction from his quest.
The protagonist feeling euphoric races home to meet his uncle. Disappointed...