Essay on James Joyce's Araby - The Symbol of the Church in Araby

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James Joyce's Dubliners - The Symbol of the Church in Araby

Joyce's short story "Araby" is filled with symbolic images of a church. It opens and closes with strong symbols, and in the body of the story, the images are shaped by the young), Irish narrator's impressions of the effect the Church of Ireland has upon the people of Ire-land. The boy is fiercely determined to invest in someone within this Church the holiness he feels should be the natural state of all within it, but a succession of experiences forces him to see that his determination is in vain. At the climax of the story, when he realizes that his dreams of holiness and love are inconsistent with the actual world, his anger and anguish are directed, not toward the Church,
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Since the boy is the narrator, the inclusion of these symbolic images in the description of the setting shows that the boy is sensitive to the lack of spiritual beauty in his surroundings. Outside the main setting are images symbolic of those who don’t belong to the Church. The boy and his companions go there at times, behind their houses, along the "dark muddy lanes," to where the "rough tribes" (the infidel) dwell. Here odors arise from "the ash pits"--those images symbolic to James Joyce of the moral decay of his nation.

Even the house in which the youthful main character lives adds to the sense of moral decay. The former tenant, a priest (now dead), is shown to have been insensitive to the spiritual needs of his people. His legacy was a collection of books that showed his confusion of the sacred with the secular-and there is evidence that he devoted his life to gathering "money" and "furniture." He left behind no evidence of a life of spiritual influence.

Despite these discouraging surroundings, the boy is determined to find some evidence of the loveliness his idealistic dreams tell him should exist within the Church. His first love becomes the focal point of this determination. In the person of Mangan's sister, obviously somewhat older than the boy and his companions, his longings find an object of worship. The boy's feelings for the girl are a confused mixture of sexual desire and of sacred adoration, as
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