Sara Goldstein Ernst Narrative Fiction 22 October 2000 an Analytical View of Araby Viewpoints from which stories are written are used to enhance the overall point a story is making. James Joyce’s Araby is no exception. Narrated by a young boy of about twelve or thirteen, it depicts his personal coming of age. The usage of a first person narration allows the reader to see things the way the boy sees them; be as innocent and wistful as he is, thus feeling the incredible intensity of his eventual realization. In addition to this coming of age theme, intricately woven throughout are hints to Joyce’s contemptuous view of Roman Catholicism, as well as many biblical allusions. Araby takes place around the turn of the century in Dublin, Ireland. At this time in history the Catholic Church had a great hold on the country. James Joyce held an immense dislike for the Roman Catholic Church and the strains it put forth, however these were not feelings that could be shared openly. Instead Joyce wrote about them in a symbolic fashion, using his writing as a tool to speak out. The opening paragraph of this story sets it up as one that will do just that. He states, “…it was a quiet street except at the hour when the Christian Brothers’ School set the boys free,” suggesting that their religion had imprisoned them. The former tenant of the boy’s house, a charitable priest, had died inside and left his money to institutions and his furniture to his sister. This could be a symbolic reference to the fall of Roman Catholicism; his house being the country of Ireland, the priest being the religion. It is also interesting to note that the priest passed on with a lot of money- basically a contradictory situation (though the narrator fails to question this due to his naivet’. How would a priest end up with so much money? This is a possible stab at the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the church. Religion, as a whole comes up symbolically many times throughout the story. Joyce makes obvious reference to the Garden of Eden when describing “the wild garden behind the house [which] contained a central apple tree”. This is a parallel to a well-known fall from grace, as the boy will soon experience. In addition, nearly all the boy’s thoughts of his silent admiration can be identified as religious references. Many of them happen to be sexual desires stifled by religion. The girl is most certainly used as a representation of the Virgin Mary. One night, before the bazaar, the boy watches out the window “the brown clad figure cast by my imagination, touched discreetly by the lamplight at the curved neck, at the hand upon the railings and at the border below the dress.”
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