James Joyce

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Blindness Symbol Icon

The story uses the word “blind” to draw attention to the narrator’s naiveté and isolation. He begins by describing the dead-end street where the narrator lives as “blind,” with the narrator’s house being a lone abandoned house at the blind end, set off from the other houses. This isolated house foreshadows the narrator’s later isolation from his friends, as he loses interest in playing with them and watches them play in the street from the upstairs window. The narrator also recounts watching for Mangan’s sister from the front parlor, with the blind pulled down so she cannot see him. The narrator is figuratively blinded by his infatuation with Mangan’s sister. He loses sight of everything else in his life, namely his studies and his friends, because he is so busy fantasizing about her.

The word “blind” also emphasizes the anonymous nature of the characters in the text, as only two of them are given names (Mangan and Mrs. Mercer). The lack of identity and physical description of most of the characters leaves them anonymous and forces the reader to focus on the other details given in the text, most of them related to the setting. It also allows the reader to alter the narrator’s identity – perhaps in him they see themselves, or James Joyce, as many critics have called this is a semi-autobiographical work.

Blindness Quotes in Araby

The Araby quotes below all refer to the symbol of Blindness. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Araby Quotes

North Richmond Street, being blind, was a quiet street except at the hour when the Christian Brothers’ School set the boys free. An uninhabited house of two storeys stood at the blind end, detached from its neighbors in a square ground.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker)
Related Symbols: Blindness
Related Literary Devices:
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
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Blindness Symbol Timeline in Araby

The timeline below shows where the symbol Blindness appears in Araby. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Religion and Catholicism Theme Icon
Escapism and the Exotic Theme Icon
The story takes place in late 19th/early 20th-century Dublin, on North Richmond Street, a blind (dead-end) street on which stand several brown houses and the Christian Brother’s school, a Catholic... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
...rope of her hair.” Every morning, he watches her door from a slit in the blinds in his front parlor, waiting for her to leave so he can walk behind her... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Escapism and the Exotic Theme Icon
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
...left in darkness, he realizes how foolish he has been, how he has let vanity blind him. He is filled with “anguish and anger” as his eyes sting with tears of... (full context)