50 pages 1 hour read

James Joyce


Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1914

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Character Analysis

The Narrator

The narrator of “Araby” is an unnamed young Irish boy who lives with his aunt and uncle in Dublin. He tells a story about falling in love with his friend’s sister and how this sudden rush of emotion became a pivotal moment in his life. His confessional tone hints at the shame and embarrassment he feels about this time in his life. The narrator struggles to understand his feelings for Mangan’s sister, so he exaggerates the importance and the uniqueness of his love, convincing himself that he is part of some kind of fairy tale in which he is a conquering hero who saves a girl as part of a romantic endeavor. His naïve and imaginative view of love is informed by his loneliness. His parents are notably absent from the story, and neither his aunt nor his uncle seem particularly caring or affectionate toward him. Without a guiding figure in his life, the narrator is prone to fairy tales and naivety, which now makes him feel embarrassed. Ultimately, the events of the story are a formative moment in his life and—without any mentoring figures—he forces himself to confront his own immaturity.

The narrator’s struggles to understand love are framed in religious terms.