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Dubliners - "Araby" (Story 3 of 15) 
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Post Dubliners - "Araby" (Story 3 of 15)
Dubliners - "Araby" (Story 3 of 15)


Dubliners is a collection of 15 short stories by James Joyce, first published in 1914. They form a naturalistic depiction of Irish middle class life in and around Dublin in the early years of the 20th century. The stories were written when Irish nationalism was at its peak, and a search for a national identity and purpose was raging; at a crossroads of history and culture, Ireland was jolted by various converging ideas and influences.



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Post Re: Dubliners - "Araby" (Story 3 of 15)
I loved this story. It really struck a chord with me as something particular to the human experience. It goes well beyond trying to expose something or to find a specific fault. It encapsulates a minor's experience with need and the reliance on the people who can/should provide (within a household!). It shows how insignificant the ultimate wishes of the weak are. The supreme wants of the weak are nothing despite that they are good and noble. An excellent story.



Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:33 pm
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Post Re: Dubliners - "Araby" (Story 3 of 15)
I thought you might say something about the language here, Comacho. Like "An Encounter," this seems to be written in the language of a mature person looking back on his experience and describing it in words he would not have been capable of using at the time. The narrator's descriptions all reflect his religious awe of Mangan's sister and the devotional aching he suffers, which isn't too strong a word. The religious imagery and vocabulary is all mixed in here right from the start, and one thing it does is to build up the boy's infatuation to such a height that when he's defeated at the end, by fate and his own inadequacy, it's like a loss of faith and is crushing for him. The epiphany has something to do with the futility of striving upward after an ideal.

The story has the same basic arc as "An Encounter," ending with defeat of a dream. There is the same attraction of the unknown and alluring, too, in the exotic associations of the word "Araby.' Of course, the bazaar turns out to be just another crass commercial venture put on by the English, and the boy's status is obvious to the girl who staffs the stall. He couldn't possibly afford to buy anything there.

The three stories could be all about the same boy; in this one he again has an aunt and uncle in place of parents. The note that the story starts off with is blindness, vs. paralysis in "The Sisters." I'm not sure, though, what blindness may have to do specifically with the theme of the story. Maybe, since Dubliners can almost be read as a novel, it doesn't have to relate to this episode, but could be relevant in some way to the rest.



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Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:27 pm
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Post Re: Dubliners - "Araby" (Story 3 of 15)
I don't see fortune playing such a part in this story as much as the inefficacy of the weak. I see a trend in the story of blunted wishes. The priest did not achieve what he was looking for. The boys had a misadventure. The boy didn't get to surprise his girl with a gift. The younger people seem to be the ones with noble and admirable dreams that are thwarted. This may leave a bad taste in their mouths to try again.

What's supposed to be the good - Religion, pursuit of adventure/fun, and love are successfully denied them. When someone can't do something they are stigmatized by the failure. If it's common than the injustice may become comfortable to them in such a way that it's passed down as normal. Older people today do it all the time in their musings and envy of anything the young get that they were denied.

The language in this one didn't strike me as off as much as The Encounter. The reason is the Twain comparison. The Encounter had really young kids on an adventure. This one deals with a more mature endeavor.

I think Joyce wants to show how society is not effectively promoting and caring for the good things in life. That the young are learning from the jaded. Their teachers are instilling in them something which falls short of the ideal. It needs to be fixed.

Very interesting that it could be all about the same boy. I'll have to go back and try and fact check that to see if it holds up!



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Post Re: Dubliners - "Araby" (Story 3 of 15)
I've decided to do a little reading about Joyce on my own, to hopefully add to my understanding of what I am reading. Here is something Joyce said about Dubliners, that I've come across several times and does inform my understanding.

"Joyce says that he wrote Dubliners with scrupulous meanness."



Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:41 pm
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Post Re: Dubliners - "Araby" (Story 3 of 15)
That's some good reading by you. By fate I mean the whole package of being an Irish boy at this time. I agree about the blunted wishes of the characters and their inefficacy. Of course, disappointments are universal, so we can all relate to the characters' experiences. But Joyce seems to be shooting for some particular stunting conditions applying to these Irish, as we might expect to see just a bit more happiness on average.



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Post Re: Dubliners - "Araby" (Story 3 of 15)
Saffron wrote:
I've decided to do a little reading about Joyce on my own, to hopefully add to my understanding of what I am reading. Here is something Joyce said about Dubliners, that I've come across several times and does inform my understanding.

"Joyce says that he wrote Dubliners with scrupulous meanness."

Then, by the time he wrote the final story, he had softened somewhat toward his native land and seemed to cut the characters more slack. That's the standard view, anyway. I think his use of 'mean' isn't our typical usage today, conveying aggressiveness or spite. It might be closer to the sense of 'poor in quality or appearance' or 'ungenerous.' The characters do live mean lives as Joyce creates them, but whether he also dislikes them is another matter that has been debated.



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Post Re: Dubliners - "Araby" (Story 3 of 15)
DWill wrote:
Saffron wrote:
I've decided to do a little reading about Joyce on my own, to hopefully add to my understanding of what I am reading. Here is something Joyce said about Dubliners, that I've come across several times and does inform my understanding.

"Joyce says that he wrote Dubliners with scrupulous meanness."


Then, by the time he wrote the final story, he had softened somewhat toward his native land and seemed to cut the characters more slack. That's the standard view, anyway. I think his use of 'mean' isn't our typical usage today, conveying aggressiveness or spite. It might be closer to the sense of 'poor in quality or appearance' or 'ungenerous.' The characters do live mean lives as Joyce creates them, but whether he also dislikes them is another matter that has been debated.


I guess I took the phrase to describe that Joyce was writing his characters without consideration of whether or not they would be sympathetic. Creating the characters and the stories through frank descriptions including the grit and the impolite.



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Post Re: Dubliners - "Araby" (Story 3 of 15)
President Camacho wrote:
I don't see fortune playing such a part in this story as much as the inefficacy of the weak. I see a trend in the story of blunted wishes. The priest did not achieve what he was looking for. The boys had a misadventure. The boy didn't get to surprise his girl with a gift. The younger people seem to be the ones with noble and admirable dreams that are thwarted. This may leave a bad taste in their mouths to try again.


I'm trying to read DUBLINERS more or less without relying on the critics, but I did happen upon this brief analysis of "An Encounter" in Sparksnotes:

Quote:
“An Encounter” suggests that although people yearn for escape and adventure, routine is inevitable, and new experiences, when they do come, can be profoundly disturbing.


So Camacho seems to be pretty much on target here. One of the themes of the first three stories is that of our young narrator leaving his comfort zone and finding not adventure so much, but misadventure. Real life isn't like the stories in the books he reads. The real world intrudes in rude and unforeseeable ways. In "The Sisters" it's the inevitability of death. In "An Encounter" it's the sudden appearance of a queer old josser who is probably a lunatic.

In "Araby," our young protagonist is smitten with his friend's sister, and so the rude lesson here is that love often doesn't play out as one hopes. As in "An Encounter," real life is much jaded as compared to the boy's romanticized notions. My Penguin edition notes say "Araby" is a poetic term for Arabia which throughout the 19th century was a "principal object of European romance and fantasy, in which images of exoticism, sensuality, prodigious wealth and refined cruelty were all involved." But in this story, Araby also refers to a bazaar that is to be held within a few days time.

I was a little confused by the conversation the boy had with the young woman. I thought it was a dream the first time I read the story, but it seems now that it was an actual conversation. Anyway, the boy wants to pick up something at the bazaar for the girl, but he ends up arriving late and it becomes too awkward for him to make an appropriate purchase. Joyce does a really good job showing how awkward it is for the boy at one of the stalls.

"Observing me the young lady came over and asked me did I wish to buy anything. The tone of her voice was not encouraging; she seemed to have spoken to me out of a sense of duty. I looked humbly at the great jars that stood like eastern guards at either side of the dark entrance to the stall and murmured:
"No, thank you."

Soon after that they announce that the lights are being turned out and the epiphany comes I think when the boy just gives up. More importantly, Joyce shows that there is no room for romantic love in the everyday life of the average Dubliner. The drudgery of life and perhaps the domineering role of religion seems to leave no room for it.


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Post Re: Dubliners - "Araby" (Story 3 of 15)
Very nicely said, Geo. I've also been trying to read without peeking. The question that has really been on my mind is how much does one need to know about the writer and or the time period in order to fully understand the writing. I do feel that I need to know more about Joyce, Ireland and the time period to get the intended flavor and meaning. Yesterday I attend a live book club and we talked about something I think comes very close to Joyce's "scrupulous meanness" or as least how I understand it. We were discussing how it adds to a story when an author portrays characters doing things or making observations that in normal everyday life it is not polite to notice, let alone mention. Some of these things are even everyday things, like watching someone discretely spit something out of their mouth while eating at a restaurant. Some are offensive or would be embarrassing to the doer if known to have been seen. We all know these things occur, but unless you are watching an Adam Sandler movie we hardly acknowledge them. I am thinking that a version of this shows up in novels when one class of people observes another class doing whatever it is they do and are revolted - pick teeth at the table, or however you want fill in the two affiliations and the act.



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Post Re: Dubliners - "Araby" (Story 3 of 15)
Saffron wrote:
DWill wrote:
Saffron wrote:
I've decided to do a little reading about Joyce on my own, to hopefully add to my understanding of what I am reading. Here is something Joyce said about Dubliners, that I've come across several times and does inform my understanding.

"Joyce says that he wrote Dubliners with scrupulous meanness."


Then, by the time he wrote the final story, he had softened somewhat toward his native land and seemed to cut the characters more slack. That's the standard view, anyway. I think his use of 'mean' isn't our typical usage today, conveying aggressiveness or spite. It might be closer to the sense of 'poor in quality or appearance' or 'ungenerous.' The characters do live mean lives as Joyce creates them, but whether he also dislikes them is another matter that has been debated.


I guess I took the phrase to describe that Joyce was writing his characters without consideration of whether or not they would be sympathetic. Creating the characters and the stories through frank descriptions including the grit and the impolite.

I think that's exactly it.



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Post Re: Dubliners - "Araby" (Story 3 of 15)
You come to suspect Joyce of having a reason for including just about every detail he does include. I can't for the life of me figure out why the boy finds the dead priest's old bicycle pump buried in the back yard, but it's such a peculiar detail to mention that it must have some significance! Oh, the priest rode a bicycle, was also a "charitable" priest, and therefore was an all-around good, simple guy (and "green") as distinguished from the common priests who tried to be all hoity-toity. Works for me, since I'm disposed to imagine all virtue in bike riding, but is probably bogus.

I loved the religious imagery in the story, where the descriptions of Mangan's sister (what no name; she could have been like Dante's Beatrice) are like iconography.

" She held one of the spikes, bowing her head towards me. The light from the lamp opposite our door caught the white curve of her neck, lit up her hair that rested there and, falling, lit up the hand upon the railing. It fell over one side of her dress and caught the white border of a petticoat, just visible as she stood at ease....I may have stood there for an hour, seeing nothing but 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."

I wonder whether all the religious love was really mixing with sexual desire, only Joyce couldn't make that obvious. Maybe it depends on how old the narrator is, adolescent or preadolescent. In the scene in the priest's old room the boy experiences a climax, of some sort.



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Post Re: Dubliners - "Araby" (Story 3 of 15)
If you guys have a problem with his imagery in his poetry and if you can see lack of depth in it... I'd be willing to bet that his stories are much more surface oriented but that doesn't mean some things don't have 'some' significance.



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Post Re: Dubliners - "Araby" (Story 3 of 15)
geo wrote:
"Soon after that they announce that the lights are being turned out and the epiphany comes I think when the boy just gives up. More importantly, Joyce shows that there is no room for romantic love in the everyday life of the average Dubliner. The drudgery of life and perhaps the domineering role of religion seems to leave no room for it."



I like that. I also want to believe that if someone had cared enough to keep a promise, the boy may have succeeded and there would be love. The story hinges on the broken promise for me, not so much the bizarre.



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Post Re: Dubliners - "Araby" (Story 3 of 15)
President Camacho wrote:
If you guys have a problem with his imagery in his poetry and if you can see lack of depth in it... I'd be willing to bet that his stories are much more surface oriented but that doesn't mean some things don't have 'some' significance.


Did you mean to post this here? No one has said anything about Joyce's poetry. :shock:



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