The story uses a great deal of light and darkness in its descriptions. The story begins in the dark, with the “short days of winter” where the boys played in the “dark muddy lanes behind the houses.” And then the text follows the boys back to the street where the light from windows now illuminates the area.
Darkness also comes into play in understanding the narrator’s epiphany. Normally light represents enlightenment or knowledge, but at the end of the story the narrator’s newfound knowledge instead coincides with darkness. As the lights are turned off at the bazaar the narrator stares up into the darkness and realizes the harsh truth about his feelings for Mangan’s sister and his vain motives for coming to the market. In this case, his new knowledge is of a dark and depressing nature, as his epiphany has revealed to him the darkness in himself (his vanity) and in the larger world, which does not offer the sort of romantic escapes he had believed.
Light and Darkness Quotes in Araby
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.
From the front window I saw my companions playing below in the street. Their cries reached me weakened and indistinct and, leaning my forehead against the cool glass, I looked over at the dark house where she lived.
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…
Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.