The Deployment of Narrative Structure, Setting, Symbolism and Imagery in James Joyce’s Short Story, “Araby.” Narrative structure, setting, symbolism, imagery etc are some of the literary devices that writers deploy to render effect and impact to their stories…
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James Joyce’s short story “Araby,” which focuses on the anguishes of a Dublin boy, can be considered as a classic example where the author captures the essence of the theme without being explicit or relying on straightforward, monotonous narration. The story unfolds through a unique narrative structure, where Joyce uses setting and imagery to subtly illustrate the boy’s perception of the world, his anguish and his coming into terms with the real as opposed to the ideal. The unique narrative structure, in which Joyce lays out the story, renders it a seamless flow in building up the conflict and helps it mount to its final culmination. The author begins the story, alluding to the narrator’s drab life and presents Dublin as a monotonous and dreary place, through the deft deployment of imagery. The story opens with a vivid description of the setting, North Richmond Street in Dublin, through the perspective of the anonymous narrator, who thinks of it as “blind” and “quiet” (Joyce, 345). The air inside his house is “musty” because the rooms have been “long enclosed,” the waste room is “littered with old useless newspapers” and during winter, dusk arrives before his dinner is “well eaten” (Joyce, 345). ...
This alludes to the lack of security and happiness in the boy’s life. In the next phase, the author ignites a glimmer of hope, something to look forward to in the protagonist’s dreary life, by planting a girl in his aspirations. The boy adores her, watching her furtively from the slits in his window blinds and following her every day on his way to school. However, his feelings for her rather borders on infatuation than true love. The conflict in the story stems from the fact that the boy cannot muster the courage and speak to the girl of his love. But, wherever he goes, her thoughts keep coming back to him, even in such places that are “most hostile to romance” (Joyce, 345). Finally, one day, the girl comes to him and asks whether he is going to Araby, which the boy thinks will be a “splendid bazaar” (Joyce, 345). She also confides to him that she cannot go to the bazaar as she has to attend a function at her convent. The narrator sees this as an opportunity to buy her a gift so he can please her, and offers to do so. This suggests that his understanding of love confines to material gratification and he fails to know that true love is beyond trivial presents. In the boy’s imagination, the bazaar is a splendid place where he expects to see and experience the exotic and anticipates that he will be able to procure something really good for his love. He waits eagerly for Saturday to come but his spirits are dampened, first, by uncle’s late arrival and then by a train that takes over an hour to reach the bazaar “after an intolerable delay” (Joyce, 345). Again, Joyce uses imagery for effect, right at the entrance of the bazaar, where the boy encounters a “weary looking man” to whom he passes a shilling. By deploying this
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