James Joyce

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Themes and Colors
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Religion and Catholicism Theme Icon
Escapism and the Exotic Theme Icon
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Araby, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Coming of Age

One of the central issues in James Joyce’s “Araby” is growing up. The narrator, who is a grown man who uses mature language to describe his youthful experience, reflects back on his experience with the Araby market, providing small insights from an adult perspective. The fact that the story is told from an adult perspective indicates that the story is about growing up: the narrator is reflecting back on a formative time during his…

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Religion and Catholicism

The narrator of “Araby” is surrounded by religion. He attends a Roman Catholic school and all of the people around him, just like he himself, are steeped in the Catholic religion that held sway in Ireland at the time when the story was set. Joyce does not clearly indicate how strongly the narrator believes in his faith, but Catholicism plays a large role in his upbringing and he often explains things through Catholic ideas and…

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Escapism and the Exotic

In the text both Mangan’s sister and the Araby market offer an escape from the ordinary, from the dull, brown picture of Dublin that the narrator otherwise describes as the world he lives in. The narrator makes his boredom with everyday life very clear when he refers to his former boyhood antics as the “career of our play,” making even play seem like a kind of work. Similarly, his descriptions of school paint a picture…

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Love and Sexuality

One of the central issues of “Araby” is the narrator’s developing crush on Mangan’s sister and the discovery of his sexuality. Joyce shows the protagonist’s evolution by first describing his sheltered upbringing, and then using physical descriptions of Mangan’s sister to highlight the protagonist’s budding sexuality.

The protagonist lives on a “blind” street, a dead end that is secluded and not frequented by outsiders. Additionally, he attends an all-boys school, which suggests…

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