Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 16



Thesis Statement and Outline................................................................................. 02

I. The Domination of Darkness .............................................................................. 03

Đỗ Kim Ngân ................................................................................................03-05

Trần Thị Thu Hiền .........................................................................................05-06

II. The Indifference Attitude ................................................................................. 07

Lâm Thị Phương Nga ....................................................................................07-08

Đào Ngọc Ánh ...............................................................................................08-10

III. The Bare Surroundings Together With the Empty and Slow Train ............ 11
Đỗ Thị Hằng ..................................................................................................11-13

IV. The Unilateral Love ......................................................................................... 14

Trần Đức Minh ..............................................................................................14-15

Nguyễn Kiều Trang .......................................................................................15-16

Appendix: Araby by James Joyce

Thesis statement: The short story Araby by James Joyce (1882-1941) depicts a
picture which extends to us a profound impression about a gloomy, lukewarm
stagnant and sultry life of Dubliners in 1890s.


I. The domination of darkness throughout the story seemed to portray a gloomy life
of Dubliners at that time and to foreshadow an unhappy ending.

II. The indifference attitude among the characters in the story showed a lukewarm

III. The bare surroundings together with the empty and slow train show us a boring
and dull life without any motivation.

IV. The boy kept cherishing a unilateral love to a girl and dare not to bare his heart.
To some extent, it can be seen that the people at that time seemed to be pushed down
by an invisible complex which was too sultry to pursue their desires and express their

Araby is considered as one of the best short stories by James Joyce, a famous Irish
novelist and poem. Araby (1905), told from the perspective of a young boy, belongs
to Dubliners (1914) – the first set of James Joyce. Joyce is a very influential writer in
the avant-garde of the early 20th century. And like many famous writers in 20th
century, he did not have a smooth life. James Joyce wrote Araby in Trieste, Austria
where he lived for quite a long time feeling there was no position for him, and
frustrated with his frivolity of money, drinking habits and strained relationship with
his brother. The collection Dubliners was a portrait of life in Dublin, Ireland, at the
turn of the twentieth century. The title “Araby” is taken from the real festival which
came to Dublin in 1894 when the author was only 12 years old. Like the rest of
Dubliners, the short story "Araby" depicts a picture which extends to us a profound
impression about a gloomy, lukewarm, stagnant and sultry life of Dubliners in 1890s.

I. The domination of darkness throughout the story seemed to portray a gloomy

life of Dubliners at that time and to foreshadow an unhappy ending.


The gloomy picture in the story was first portrayed through the overwhelming of
darkness from the beginning until the end.

The opening scenes of the story described the young boy’s overall view of the world.
This is a blind world. From the first sentence, we can see his gloomy background. He
lived in the street, named North Richmond in Ireland's largest city, Dublin in 1894,
which was introduced as a “blind”, “quiet street”(1). The image of an “uninhabited”
and “detached” house (2, 3) from the others in the street created an image of isolation
for this house as well as for the boy who felt alone and detached from his neighbors.
In addition, the image of the “blind end” (3) illustrated the darkness and the
somberness of the city and the citizens’ life at that time and suggested that there was
nowhere that the boy and his friends could go except for dreary houses and streets

here (3). The next sentence seemed to foreshadow the entire story. “The other houses
of the street” gazing at one another with “brown imperturbable faces” were
“conscious of decent lives” (3- 5). The hopelessness and the dull life of the boy’s
were clearly reflected through the houses that contained the sense of the dead present
and lost past. The boy in this paragraph was as blind as his world.

In the third paragraph, the narrator described the depressing atmosphere. Darkness
continued to reappear “in the short days of winter”. “Dusk fell before we had well
eaten our dinner” (15) showed the readers the picture of a day began at dusk and
continued through the evening during this season. The domination of darkness was
emphasized by the image of pale light in this paragraph. When the night fell,
streetlights were but “feeble lanterns” (18) in the somberness of the “dark muddy
lanes”(20). The light from the kitchen windows only filled the street when boys
returned; however, the boy chose to hide in the shadow. This action made the
darkness again cover all the light which had just appeared in a short time. In the blind
and dark surroundings like this, only the boys’ games and shouts “echoed the silent
street” (19) and made the story have some breaks , but the boys must still play in
“dark muddy lanes”(20), in “dark dripping gardens” (21) near “dark odorous
stables” (22) and “ashpits” (22). The boys’ life was the same as what it was
suggested in the first paragraph. They could not go anywhere except this stagnant

Scanning through the story, the readers could easily see that all the scenes in this
story often happened in the dark setting. Joyce used such setting to express his
intention when he wrote the stories “Dubliners”. He wanted to “write a chapter in the
moral history” of his country and he chose Dublin city for the scene “because that
city seemed to me the centre of paralysis”(The Archetypal Myth of the Quest in J.
Joyce's "Araby" written by Mahmood Azizi, para. 4, line 6). Actually, choosing the
gloomy setting to be the home of the young boy, Joyce made the boy’s life
particularly and the Dubliners’ lives generally become more vivid at the time of

The domination of darkness in the “Araby” represented the stagnation and isolation
of the young boy in Dublin as well as Dubliners at that time, and predicted the
unhappy endings of the young boy’s life. By using dark and gloomy references,
Joyce expressed vividly the depressing atmosphere in the bleak city.


Although darkness dominated throughout the story, and in this darkness we predicted
that nothing happy would happen, the boy still kept a hope for going to Araby
despite of late time and slow train. Araby was a bazaar happened during 14th to 19th
May 1894. Why he kept that hope? With the hope bringing back a present for
Mangan’s sister, the girl he loved, he went through the darkness to go to this bazaar.
In the boy’s hope: Araby would be a place of light and it would still open. Darkness
appeared everywhere, so in this situation if light appeared it would be very
meaningful because if there was no light, Araby would completely close.

The experiences of the boy in "Araby" of James Joyce show us that life sometimes
does not happen as people expect. The author‘s use of dark made the boy's reality of
living in the gloomy town of Araby more vivid. Darkness dominated throughout the
story while pale light just appeared at some places, and Araby, the destination of
story and also the destination of the boy was completely full of darkness at the end.

When he came to Araby, “greater part of the hall was in darkness” (135). Once again
darkness encroached and it was likely that the hope of the boy would disappear. In
this bloomy scenery, light still appeared, and it created some small hope for the boy
of having something as a present for Mangan’s sister: “A few people were gathered
about the stalls which were still open. Before a curtain, over which the words Café
Chantant were written in coloured lamps, two men were counting money on a salver”
(136, 137, 138, and 139).

Despite of how hard he tried to get there, he came back with nothing in his hand
except for darkness, which totally covered Araby “The upper part of the hall was
now completely dark” (161 and 162). It means that at that time accordance with
completely domination of darkness, lights totally disappeared. He came back
disappointedly: “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and
derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger” (163 and 164). This
was the time when the boy realized that life was not as good as what he had dreamed.

Reading the story, through the way the author describes the surroundings we can see
darkness appeared through the story. The boy’s life plunged in dark, the hope still
had but disappeared at the end of the story. The boy who was at the age of teenager,
the most beautiful period of human’s life, but in his eyes life was full of darkness. At
the beginning of the story we forecast that there was nothing happy at the end of the
story, and it was true. When life has nothing happy, scenery surrounding them is also
unhappy. It was also a gloomy life of people in Dublin at that time when there was a
terrible poverty in Dublin (http://www.localhistories.org/dublin.html, A brief history
of Dublin, Ireland by Tim Lambert, Dublin in the 19th century, the first paragraph).
Life is not as good as what they expect, what bring them disappointed feeling.

II. The indifference attitude among the characters in the story showed a lukewarm


Dubliners’ life at that time seemed to be rather lukewarm through the indifferent
attitude among the characters in the story. The indifference appeared not only among
people of different families, but also among those of the same one.

Right at the beginning of the story, James Joyce gave readers a feeling of unconcern
by mentioning “brown imperturbable faces” (4 and 5) of houses on the street.
Reading the story, the sense of unconcern gradually grew. Mangan’s sister, after
“every morning” (33) the boy followed and passed her, should have figured out that
he had special feelings to her. Yet, she did almost nothing to reply his heart, except
for saying a few words “at last” (60).

The indifference among people got stronger when the boy went to the market on
Saturday evenings, together with his aunt. The market was such a mess with drunken
man jostling, women bargaining, laborers cursing, and shop-boys shrilling. All these
people made the boy felt as if he had got into a “throng of foes” (47), where
everyone kept doing what they wanted and just ignored others.

The indifference hurt the boy even more when his uncle came back home late at the
night of Araby. The boy first informed his uncle about his travel to Araby on a
Saturday night-on weekend night when his uncle was free from work. One week
later, on Saturday morning, the boy seriously reminded his uncle that he “wished to
go to the bazaar in the evening” (85). Responding to the boy’s sincere request, his
uncle got upset -“fussing at the hallstand” (86), and answered without any
enthusiasm - “Yes, boy, I know!” (88).

The uncle’s reaction left him in such a mood. He “felt the house in bad humor” (90),
he found the air “pitilessly raw” (90). And, already, his heart “misgave” (91) him.

The boy had informed and reminded his uncle about the bazaar, but he still forgot
and returned home late, let the boy wait in vain for so long. Some days ago, “at last”
(60) Mangan’s sister spoke to him; and this time, finally his uncle came home. “He
had forgotten” (112). And then he refused to give the boy money by saying “The
people are in bed and after their first sleep now” (113). He just said sorry to the boy
after the boy got upset -“I did not smile” (114), and his wife said to him
energetically-“Can’t you give him the money and let him go? You’ve kept him late
enough as it is.” (115).

The uncle remembered nothing about the boy’s sincere request and asked once again
where he was going. Then the boy had to answer two times before getting a florin.
He could have given money to his nephew sooner. He simply did not care!

The indifference continued when the boy came to Araby. There were only a few
people in the bazaar, though it was a charity one. And the indifference got its climax
when the lady at the stall served him as if she was doing something she did not want
to, with a discouraging voice, rather than with warm hospitality as often seen in a
charity bazaar. At that time, the boy could not bear it anymore, and just gave up in


The indifference attitude among the characters in the story showed a lukewarm life
in Dublin. The young boy’s life in the society where the people only care for
individual’s thought and benefit. The relationships between the boy and his uncle,
the boy and the girl Mangan, the boy and the saleswoman make an impression of
indifference and lukewarmth to the reader.

Firstly, James Joyce puts the boy in a house with non-parent people, with his uncle
and aunt. The reader cannot know why the boy does not live with his parents,
anyway, from the beginning, the reader can have a feeling of totally unhappy life
with full treatment. In reality, even living with true parents, the child can be ill-
treated and not enough interest. A boy in the age of new feeling and desire, the age
of breaking everything without thinking and full of youth’s energy- need have more
cares from family’s member. Unfortunately, this is not a biological mother and
father, as in other societies, it is really not easy to take care of somebody who is not
“true” child. They are the people who can feed you, spending your tuition or buying
you some new clothes. However, they will not the person who sit beside you,
sympathize, encourage and ask you that “Are you ok?”. The lukewarm atmosphere
not only exists outside but inside home. Because of so many things which they have
to do, sometimes, they do not have time to think of anybody except themselves. It is
exactly real life but anything else suppresses the feeling and interest among the
people in society. The lukewarmth of society spread into each house, it makes the
connection loose, the people mostly live for themselves, think of what they want, talk
about themselves and ignore what the others think.

Secondly, James gave him a love. Love is wonderful thing but sometimes, it
becomes a pragmatic one with indifference. A question left in the reader’s mind
about the young boy’s love is whether his love is “love” or temporary indulgence,

whether Mangan, the girl he loves, talks with him because of love or she just takes
advantage of the young boy’s naivety, teases him for a gift. Her indifferent attitude to
him is because she is shy, she does not like him or she makes for herself a haughty
cover? The reader cannot find out it. Overall, we only see that the girl has not ever
interested in the boy’s love, even one time. There is not the reason that she does not
know it, her attitude and her behavior show that she knows, however she seemed to
ignore it as child’s play. That indifferent attitude unintentionally makes the boy fall
deeply in her love. One more time, we can realize a truth that, the more love the boy
gives, the more lukewarmth he receives, the lukewarmth of surrounding people.

Finally, James lets the readers feel the lukewarmth of Dublin society which is
portrayed through the saleswoman. The boy should have welcomed by the seller
when going to Araby. On the contrary, nothing happened. There is no warm
welcome; there is no smile. It is not similar with the way sellers often do. There is
not because the salesgirl does not have that goods or need sell goods, it simply is just
contempt! Because the boy seems too young and no money! Although no one wants
to welcome a child with a few shilling in hand, yet, oh my God! It is just a charitable
bazaar! So, if it exactly is a charitable one, it seems to care for money rather than
charity! It is very funny and bitter as well! The young boy in “Araby”, as well as the
author-James Joyce- spent his childhood in a stuffy society and a restricted colonial
culture of Ireland. James Joyce had declared in a letter “My intention was to write a
chapter of the moral history of my country and I chose Dublin for the scene because
that city seemed to me the center of paralysis”.

III. The bare surroundings together with the empty and slow train show us a boring
and dull life without any motivation.


In the picture that James Joyce depicts, besides the darkness and the indifference of
characters, the author impresses us with a deserted and quiet surroundings which
make readers feel of a dull life without any motivation of the main character in this
story. To some extent, this picture also partly reflects the author’s thought about the
Dubliners’ life when the author was not in Dublin at that time. Remembering a little
bit about the situation when James Joyce wrote his masterpiece “Dubliners”
(“Araby” is one of the first short stories in “Dubliners”), he was not in Dublin. That
is the time after his mother’s death and also this period (from 1904 to 1914) is the
time of political violence and instability in Dublin. In addition, the conflict between
Catholics and Protestants was at its peak. Being away from Dublin gave James Joyce
an objective view about the city and its residents.

The author represents the bare and silent surroundings in his picture through three
images. Firstly, we discover the empty image of the street where the main character
of this short story lives at. At the beginning of the story, James Joyce describes
“North Richmond Street, being blind, was a quiet street…” (1). It shows that this
street has nothing salient. It sinks into silence and if we don’t pay attention, we won’t
know the existing of this street. Continuing discovering this street, we see “An
uninhabited house of two storeys stood at the blind end, detached from its neighbors
in a square ground. The other houses of the street…gazed at one another with brown
imperturbable faces.” (2-5). There is no people’s voice, all we see and feel is the
houses are standing calmly and “looking” at each other. The life in a street is not so
different with the life in a remote and poor countryside. Through adjectives that the
author used such as “blind”, “quiet”, “uninhabited”, “square”, “brown”, and
“imperturbable”, he presents a world that is simple but quite humdrum. Clearly, this
picture shows the author’s outlook about a real life in his native city, a boring life.

The second image that James Joyce used to depict a deserted picture of life is the
image of a slow and empty train going to bazaar. This train doesn’t put on it a
hurried and crowded look as we think. In contrast, it contains something make us
disappointed. The young boy in this story had a very long day of nervousness and
waiting for money from his uncle to go to bazaar and after receiving money in
angrily mood, he quickly strode towards the station. However, in opposition to the
eagerness of the boy, the author sketches an intolerable delay of the train and it
makes both the main character and readers feel unbearable. “I took my seat in a third-
class carriage of a deserted train. After an intolerable delay, the train moved out of
the station slowly. It crept onward among ruinous houses…” (124-126). Although
this is “a special train for bazaar” (128), it is a deserted train; no one except the boy
is in this train. This train delayed unbearably, but a carriage just has only one guest.
The train run slowly, it seems utterly exhausted and sad in the dark night. There are
no guests to carry; the train has no motivation to start its trip. Also, the life of
Dubliners at that time is full of class struggle and religious conflict., so people’s life
is full of tiredness and has nothing that motivate them to go ahead.

The third and also the last image is the silent a somber of Araby. In the imagination
of Mangan’s sister and the young boy, Araby is “a large building which displayed the
magical name” (131) and brims over with light. Nevertheless, when the boy stands in
front of Bazaar, he sees “Nearly all the stalls were closed and the greater part of the
hall was in darkness. I recognized a silence like that which pervades a church after a
service.” (134-136) and “A few people were gathered around the stalls which were
still open.” (137). Any one of us when hearing about the bazaar, we usually think
that there are a lot of people there and perhaps it lasts all night. However, it’s quite
different in this picture; just have some people in a large building and it sinks deeply
into darkness and emptiness. The bazaar now looks like the silence of a church after
everyone leaves. Although it has the appearance of people in the third image and
they are arguing something, there is no animation here and it gives the young boy a
feeling of despair and painfulness. When all stalls are closed and Araby is filled with
darkness, it’s time the boy realizes that his real life is not as beautiful as his dream.

Now in the dark night the young boy doesn’t know what he should do next.
Hopelessness is one word that used to describe not only the emotion of the boy, also
the general mood of Dubliners. James Joyce, by using his own words, implies a
boring and somber life of Dubliners that he felt when he lived far away from his
native city.

IV. The boy kept cherishing a unilateral love to a girl and dare not to bare his heart.
To some extent, it can be seen that the people at that time seemed to be pushed down
by an invisible complex which was too sultry to pursue their desires and express their


The girl whom he had a crush on was the sister of his friend who came at the
doorstep to call her brother. The boy fell for the girl. She became the light that
contrasted the dark and gloomy mood that surrounded him. He thought of her even in
the oddest places like the market or in the classroom. She seemed to be a wonderful
escape from the harsh and depressing realities that confront him.

Every morning he would peek through the crack in the parlor to watch the girl next
door leave the house and walk to school. He followed her but never spoke. He
worshiped and desired her. His eyes were “often full of tears” (48). He cried “O love!
O love!” (59) in prayer to express his great love.

It is clear that the boy in Araby was passive, inactive and reflective about his passion.
The focus was on himself and how he felt about his friend’s sister. He was more
aware of what he was doing. In addition, the boy’s pride which took over his feelings
for the girl was destructive and almost destroyed him. The girl had a negative
influence on him as she occupied his mind taking him away from his sleep and
school work. She haunted his him even he was not around her. The boy, then, learned
something about himself. He learned that his love for the girl was one-sided, unreal
and its only basis was in his feelings. It was not a mutual feeling and therefore may
have destroyed what he felt for her.

In addition, the initiation, which the boy had to experience, should also be taken into
account. The type of initiation the main character had was a sad journey from
innocence to knowledge and experience. The narrator had different attitudes and
reactions to the initiation experience. The reader learns of the boy’s initiation in the
final sentence: “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and
derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.” (163) The character
had a negative reaction to his new awareness. His realization caused him to have
feelings of shame, anguish and anger. He was controlled by his passion for Mangan’s
older sister. His ideals of the girl were not realistic but were fruitless and vain. The
girl drew out feelings in him, and he discovered that feelings must be reciprocated
and the negative side that love can also be painful. He had a difficult time accepting
his own weakness. He was in distress because he had stopped for a moment and
gazed up into the darkness and realized that his previous feelings were wonderful but
the only reality existed in his feelings. It had no existence beyond how he felt and the
understanding of this was painful for the character.


From the very beginning of the story we get to know that the boy has a secret
adoration for a girl. She is the sister of his friend Mangan. The boy nourishes a very
deep and pure passion for his dream girl. He waits every day to have a glimpse of the
girl. But the boy never gets the chance to speak with his lady-love because his
infatuation is so intense that he fears he will never gather the courage to speak with
the girl and express his feelings. He always carries the image of the girl. He thinks
about her when he accompanies his aunt to do food shopping on Saturday evening in
the busy marketplace and when he sits in the back room of his house alone. He
places himself in the front room of his house so he can see her leave her house, and
then he rushes out to walk behind her quietly until finally passing her He cannot
forget her name for a moment. He describes his condition in the following words: "I
imagined that I bore the chalice safely through a throng of foes" (46).

With various symbolic characters, James Joyce creates the real world. In real world,
each and every person has to face the inevitable frustration, displeasure,
disappointment and realization about love and reality. This is the truth and universal.
"Araby is about dream, happiness, realism, darkness and drab world”. In “Araby”,
the allure of new love and distant places combines with the familiarity of everyday
hard work, with frustrating consequences. Mangan’s sister embodies this
combination, since she is part of the familiar surroundings of the narrator’s street as
well as the exotic promise of the bazaar. Like the bazaar that offers experiences that
differ from everyday Dublin, Mangan’s sister inspire the narrator with new feelings
of joy and elation. His love for her, however, must compete with the dullness of
schoolwork, his uncle’s lateness, and the Dublin trains. Though he promises
Mangan’s sister that he will go to Araby and purchase a gift for her, these mundane
realities erode his plans and ultimately end his desires. As the bazaar closes down, he
realizes that Mangan’s sister will fail his expectations as well, and that his desire for
her is actually only a vain wish for change. Moreover, his love for the young girl is
just his limitations and all of his actions and love are unilateral. Fortunately, he is
young and obviously his new conception of reality will allow him to repair what he is
doing wrong: “Gazing up into darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided
by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger” (164). The young boy’s
failure at the bazaar suggests that fulfillment and satisfaction remain foreign to
Dubliners, even in the most unusual events of the city like an annual bazaar.

Through the short story “Araby” written by James Joyce, we can imagine a picture
about life of a young boy who was submerged in darkness, stagnancy and a unilateral
love. From life and way of thinking of a young boy, James Joyce has a clever
purpose that he wants readers to draw from the story, that is gloomy and sultry life
without motivation of Dubliners in 1890s. To some extent, it can be seen that the
people at that time seemed to be pushed down by an invisible complex which was
too sultry to pursue their desires and express their feelings. Especially, Mangan’s
sister symbolizes the unreachable dream the people of England had during the tough
times and it can be seen further as individualism and isolation. Generally speaking,
The English novelist James Joyce is famous for his research into basic human
behavior and strong insight into the natural activities that make a man. As an author
he has presented his perception of social limitation and shows how those limitations
are against the freedom of self-expression. He characteristically fights against the
traditional notions to set a new trend of thought in his literary works.