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Thursday, February 4, 2010

James Joyce's "Araby" How did the prescence of the British affect the main character?

The main character, after having finally received money and permission from his uncle, finally arrives at the supposedly exotic bazaar only to see many British people filling the various stations. The main character notices “two men counting money on a salver.” (lines 188-89). A footnote informs us of the possible connection with the story of Jesus driving the money changers out of the temple because they had defiled it. The main character sees the purity of not only his native Ireland being threatened, but the object of his affection, as well. The flirtatious attitude between the one female and two males, detailed in lines 195-200, is yet another example of the land being defiled. Joyce eventually criticizes the boy’s motives in the end, however, by stating that the boy saw himself “as a creature driven and derided by vanity: and [his] eyes burned with anguish and anger.” (219-20). Forcing the main character to see his own flaws removes any trace of him being a Christ figure. The presence of the British causes the boy to see something in himself that he does not like. He came to the market almost on behalf of Mangan’s sister because he liked Mangan’s sister. His encounter with the British women at the market causes his real motives to come to the surface, and the foolish root of those motives.

1 comment:

  1. I find that the rigidity in Irish Catholicism, actually defiles Ireland more than the imperialist British. Yes, the boy only listened to people in "their English accents", but these people only number to three (Joyce 25). He sees and interacts with relatively few people because he is late, owing to the "coincidence" of his uncle's late arrival from work and his aunt's fear that the boy "may put off the bazaar for this night of Our Lord" (24). He also relates to the emptiness of the hall with a Catholic reference, noting its imperfect silence is "like that pervades a church after a service" (25). In short, while the presence of the three conversing British certainly encourages the boy's realization, we must not forget the source causing him to be late, preventing him from seeing a broader range of foreigners in their stalls.