In the short story “Araby,” James Joyce utilizes the narrator’s loss of childhood innocence and naivety in order to reveal the sometimes disappointing outcomes of a search for change. The narrator grows tired of his dull and traditional lifestyle, noticing how the houses on North Richmond Street “gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces” (Joyce 1). His description of the houses reflects his dissatisfaction with the lack of change in Dublin. The narrator quickly becomes infatuated with Mangan’s sister, and he mentions that “her name sprang to my lips at moments in strange prayers and praises which I myself did not understand,” emphasizing his maturation as he does not yet comprehend the unfamiliar feelings that result during adolescence (Joyce 5). She tells him about a bazaar, and as a result of his desire to escape the monotony of his lifestyle and to impress her, he enthusiastically decides to go to it, promising to buy her something. When he arrives, he soon realizes that his idealized perceptions of Araby are not reflective of its reality. Most of the stalls are closed, and the stalls that are open do not sell extraordinary goods. He criticizes himself, believing that he is “driven and derided by vanity,” an acknowledgment of his foolishness for thinking he could easily find change or buy Mangan’s sister’s love with a gift (Joyce 35). The surprising revelation of the mediocrity of the bazaar causes the narrator to change from a hopeful and naive character to a discouraged character, reflecting the often disheartening realities that come along with human development and the difficulties that arise during periods of change.
I can emulate the coming-of-age element in my capstone project, and I would also like to emulate how James Joyce uses the setting to reinforce the meaning of the work. I can create a character that experiences change and learns a lesson from the change. The narrator of “Araby” loses innocence as he encounters an upsetting reality, and this concept demonstrates the idea of maturing and learning as a result of hardships. A meaningful setting and a coming-of-age element are parts of “Araby” that I can emulate in my short story.