Essay about Arby

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Arby James Joyce's use of religious imagery and religious symbols in "Araby" is compelling. That the story is concerned somehow with religion is obvious, but the particulars are vague, and its message becomes all the more interesting when Joyce begins to mingle romantic attraction with divine love. "Araby" is a story about both wordly love and religious devotion, and its weird mix of symbols and images details the relationship--sometimes peaceful, sometimes tumultuos--between the two. In this essay, I will examine a few key moments in the story and argue that Joyce's narrator is ultimately unable to resolve the differences between them.

While the story's concern with religion seems to speak for itself, a few biographical
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These minor bits of information may be trivial, but the do create a setting that is rich with religious overtones. And of course, at the end of the second paragraph we discover that the garden of Eden is in the narrator's back yard: "the wild garden behind the house contained a central apple-tree [...] and the late tenant's rusty bicycle pump." Perhpas it is a stretch to read a bicycle pump as the tempting serpent, but a central apple-tree unmistakably suggests the garden of Eden. The story takes place against a backdrop of religious icons and images--all the events occur in a religious "setting," if you will.

We have religion, but what about the idea of confinement, or of romantic love? As it turns out, the narrator's love interest, known only as "Mangan's sister," soon provides both (40). After days of secretly following her around, the narrator is finally confronted by the girl. She wants to go to the baazar, Araby, but she can't. When he asks her why, the reply is telling:

While she spoke she turned a silver bracelet round and round her wrist. She could not go, she said, because there would be a retreat that week in her convent. Her brother and two other boys were fighting for their caps and I was alone at the railings. She held one
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