Araby as a Story of Adolescent Psychology

Introduction: In James Joyce's short story "Araby," the protagonist is a young boy whose experiences and feelings mirror the author's own boyhood in the city of Dublin. "Araby" is not just a conventional tale of external events, but a poignant exploration of the boy's fascination with a young girl and his profound longing for the mysterious bazaar, Araby. This story delves into the realm of adolescent psychology, portraying the protagonist as a symbol of human search for beauty and romance.

The Romantic Sensibility of the Boy:

The boy's nature is characterized by a romantic sensibility that sets him apart from the world. He is captivated by Mangan's sister and yearns for even the slightest connection with her. Although they have little interaction, her image lingers in his mind, accompanying him amidst the noise of bustling Dublin. This inexplicable longing manifests in his murmurings of "O love! O love!"

Imagination and Fascination with Araby:

The boy's strong imaginative power, stemming from his romantic temperament, allures him to the idea of Araby—a place of grandeur and splendor that he has never actually visited. His mind's eye conjures an enchanting vision of Araby that captivates him.

"The syllables of the word Araby were called to me through the silence in which my soul luxuriated and cast an Eastern enchantment over me."

His fascination with Araby reflects his adolescent yearning for love and beauty, even though he may not fully grasp the true meaning of these emotions. The story beautifully captures the restless and impulsive nature of adolescence.

The Adolescent Mind and Restlessness:

Adolescence marks a transitional phase between boyhood and manhood, where the mind is easily stirred by passion and deeply impressionable. The boy in "Araby" is no exception, as he becomes impertinent and restless while planning his visit to Araby. He finds it difficult to concentrate on anything else, and his impatience is evident as he states:

"I had hardly any patience with the serious work of life which, now that it stood between me and my desire, seemed to me child's play, ugly monotonous child's play."

The boy's emotions and feelings are in constant flux, and he struggles to make sense of his confused adoration for Mangan's sister and his yearning for Araby.

The Transition to Manhood:

As the boy grows into a young man, he undergoes a significant phase of transition. His mind is drawn to various aspects of life, and he longs for things that touch his heart. This is evident in his fascination with love and his desire to visit Araby, which symbolizes his pursuit of beauty and romance.


James Joyce effectively portrays adolescent psychology through the self-portrayal of the boy in "Araby." His romantic sensibility, fascination with love, and restless impatience are all indicative of the adolescent mind on the cusp of manhood. The story beautifully captures the complexities and yearnings of adolescence, making it a timeless exploration of human emotions and desires.

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