Essay on James Joyce's Araby - The Ironic Narrator of Araby

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The Ironic Narrator of  "Araby" 


Although James Joyce's story "Araby" is told from the first per-son viewpoint of its young protagonist, we do not receive the impression that a boy tells the story. Instead, the narrator seems to be a man matured well beyond the experience of the story. The mature man reminisces about his youthful hopes, desires, and frustrations. More than if a boy's mind had reconstructed the events of the story for us, this particular way of telling the story enables us to perceive clearly the torment youth experiences when ideals, concerning both sacred and earthly love, are destroyed by a suddenly unclouded view of the actual world. Because the man, rather than the boy, recounts the experience,
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It is a place of potential holiness, shown to us in the irony of the garden's barrenness and the priest's worldliness: the garden has now only a "central apple tree" and a "few straggling bushes"; the priest had died and left behind him evidence of his preoccupation with secular literature and with collecting money and furniture.

Into this setting appears a figure representative of all that is ideal, the girl. The narrator shows us in a subtly ironic manner that in his youthful adoration of Mangan's sister she is, confusedly, the embodiment of all his boyish dreams of the beauty of physical desire and, at the same time, the embodiment of his adoration of all that is holy. In his dark environment Mangan's sister stands out, a figure al-ways shown outlined by light, with the power to set aflame in him a zeal to conquer the uncaring and the unholy. Her image, constantly with him, makes him feel as though he bears a holy "chalice" through a "throng of foes"-the Saturday evening throng of drunken men, bargaining women, cursing laborers, and all the others who have no conception of the
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