Comparing James Joyce's Araby and Ernest Hemingway's A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

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Comparing James Joyce's Araby and Ernest Hemingway's A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

As divergent as James Joyce's "Araby" and Ernest Hemingway's "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" are in style, they handle many of the same themes. Both stories explore hope, anguish, faith, and despair. While "Araby" depicts a youth being set up for his first great disappointment, and "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" shows two older men who have long ago settled for despair, both stories use a number of analogous symbols, and lap over each other thematically.

At the beginning of "Araby", the narrator describes the street's lamps as lifting their "feeble lanterns" towards an "ever-changing violet" sky (227). The colour violet is both dark and rich. The sky,
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It shows what there is. It does not search for what there might be. The old man sits in the shadow and looks down. Joyce's character carries a chalice of faith through a maelstrom of mundane chatter (228). Hemingway's sips a glass of brandy. To him, the mundane is not a distraction on the way to higher awareness, it is all there is. If one does not like it, one may numb themselves to it, or one may quit it. This old man will not listen to myths of meaning and comfort. He has gone deaf, perhaps out of not wanting to hear any more empty promises or stories that fail to hold up. Joyce's boy has had his first crushing disappointment. Hemingway's old man has had his last. There is no more looking up for him. His drink, his regular café, these are his comfort and his refuge.

Both these male authors constitute woman as "the Other", a counterpart and compliment to some man, metaphysically or physically. In Joyce's story, Mangan's sister is the goddess in service of whom our junior Hero goes on his quest to the bazaar. Once arrived, the young lady who flirts with the English boys comes to embody his sense of betrayal. He has come all this way, and no one has time for him. That he came all this way for a girl makes it ironic that it is a girl he first speaks to and she gives him a cold welcome. It may imply that the comfort one seeks in the Church is not always there when you need it, or even that it is never really there: that it is a sham and a front.

The women
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