50 pages 1 hour read

James Joyce


Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1914

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Discussion/Analysis Prompt

How does Joyce use negative space in his work? Consider how this use of negative space provides more information on each of the themes of Love and Religion, Innocence and Shame, and Death and Absence in the narrator’s life. How does the use of negative space indicate the subtext of Joyce’s point of view on these themes?

Teaching Suggestion: This Discussion/Analysis Prompt invites students to make the link between subtext and negative space within Joyce’s work. As a short story, “Araby” allows for a wide variety of implications; in fact, the reader can understand more from what is left unsaid as opposed to what is explicitly said. For example, the narrator references the death of the former tenant of his house several times; however, he never discloses why he lives with his aunt and uncle. The narrator also focuses extensively on describing his feelings in relation to Love and Religion as well as Innocence and Shame, yet he does not provide all the relevant information regarding conversations (e.g., Mangan’s sister’s response to the narrator’s offer to bring her something from the market), names (including himself), and even a timeline of events. The class might thus discuss the ways in which “Araby” reads like a memory of the narrator’s past in which he recalls the moment in which he became disillusioned by the reality of life.