Coming of Age in James Joyce’s “Araby”
In the short story “Araby”, James Joyce introduces readers to a narrator stricken with love. But the short story is not about any average kind of love, it is that of a young boy’s first love. It is a passionate and confusing time for a boy coming of age. Joyce’s “Araby” uses language and syntax to convey the young narrators’ transition from boy to man; a process not without pain, disappointment, and confusion. “Araby” is also backed by somber tones in Joyce’s choice in setting as well as light and dark themes,
In Joyce’s “Araby”, the reader is introduced to the narrator; a young boy who still enjoys playing in the few hours before dusk, but who is obviously becoming preoccupied with other things. The first mention of the object of his affection, known only as Mangan’s sister, the narrator suddenly delves deeper into detail about what he sees, “…her figure defined by the light…” as she calls the boys in, and he describes the way, “Her dress swung as she moved her body, and the soft rope of her hair tossed side to side,” (Joyce 11). The young boy’s esteem of his friend’s sister is evident in the sudden change in language as he recounts his usual evenings, she is bright while the streets are dark, and he dwells on her presence from afar. From a literary critical standpoint, Hal, Blythe and Sweet would say, “…the language of the story makes a sudden and distinct change from the biting naturalism to semi-lyrical passages,” (Blythe et al.). This is evidenced several times within the story. At the market in the evening the young boy can barely contain himself amongst the rough atmosphere; a place not fit for even the thought of love (Joyce 11). And yet the young boy excitedly recites, “Her name sprang to my lips at moments in strange prayers and praises which I myself did not understand. My eyes were often full of tears (I could not tell why) and at times a flood from my...