Araby

by

James Joyce

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Araby: Setting 1 key example

Definition of Setting
Setting is where and when a story or scene takes place. The where can be a real place like the city of New York, or it can be an imagined... read full definition
Setting is where and when a story or scene takes place. The where can be a real place like the city of New York, or... read full definition
Setting is where and when a story or scene takes place. The where can be a real place like the... read full definition
Setting
Explanation and Analysis:

“Araby” takes place in a working-class neighborhood in Dublin, Ireland in the early 1900s, when Ireland was still under Britain’s colonial rule. Through the process of industrialization, Dublin’s population was growing but its economy was still struggling, leading to widespread poverty, alcoholism, and interpersonal problems.

As the Dublin's population grew, it became the center for the Irish nationalist movement, as some Dubliners came to believe that Ireland’s economy would be stronger if they could gain independence from the British Empire. James Joyce wrote the story between 1904–1906 and published it with his full short story collection Dubliners in 1914, only eight years before the movement for independence succeeded and Ireland became established as a separate nation-state.

The narrator of the story—sometimes considered to be modeled after Joyce himself—is from a poor Catholic community experiencing the effects of the struggling economy. For example, the narrator’s aunt and uncle are in debt and unable to give him the amount of money he needs to buy something for his crush (Mangan’s sister) from the Araby market. His uncle also  arrives home several hours later than expected, and the narrator can tell that he is drunk. Joyce offers these details to establish that his stories in Dubliners are not about all Dubliners, but about struggling communities within Dublin during a particularly bleak moment in the city’s history. The harshness of the story's setting is what inspires the narrator to seek escape in the exotic Araby market, an alluring counter to his everyday life.