Dubliners by James Joyce: Araby

North Richmond Street, being blind, was a quiet street except at the hour when the Christian Brothers’ School set the boys free. 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, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces. (p. 21)

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I was thankful that I could see so little. All my senses seemd to desire to veil themselves and, feeling that I was about to slip from them, I pressed the palms of my hands together until they trembled, murmuring: O love! O love! many times. (p. 23)

It seems that man wishes to veil himself from “the other.” We wish to be ignorant or separate.

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These noises converged in a single sensation of life for me: I imagined that I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes. Her name sprang to my lips at moments in strange prayers and praises which I myself did not understand. My eyes were often full of tears (I could not tell why) and at times a flood from my heart seemed to pour itself into my bosom. I thought little of the future. I did not know whether I would ever speak to her or not or, if I spoke to her, how I could tell her of my confused adoration. But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires. (p. 23)

Araby is a short story of a young boy and his desires for a girl. It is “romantic” in character. This section maps out the “confused adoration” of this boy. Thornton Wilder says this in The Eighth Day:

“One day, months ago, the Maestro made his youngest daughter–Adriana–leave the table. She’d merely said that she adored her new shoes; she thought they were divine. He said that those were religious words and that they had nothing to do with shoes. He turned to me and said that they had nothing to do with human beings either. He warned me to beware of husbands and wives who adored one another. Such persons haven’t grown up, he said. No human being is adorable. The early Hebrews were quite right to condemn idolatry. Women who adore their husbands throw a thousand little ropes around them. They rob them of their freedom. They lull them to sleep. It’s wonderful to own a god, to put him in your pocket.” (p. 272)

What is Joyce saying when he paints us a picture of an adoring teenage boy?

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Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger. (p. 28)

These are the last lines of this short story. This realization ends the sequence of event. The boy is left in the darkness of the closing bazaar, seeing himself as a vain and angry creature. What does this mean? I think the rest of the stories might help me think of the answer to this question.

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