James Joyce wrote Araby the essay. Araby takes place in Dublin, Ireland and is about a young boy coming of age, so to say. James Joyce demonstrates the trials and tribulations of becoming an adult. After Araby was published, there have been many essays written to analyze the meaning of the work. There are many ways that this paper may be interpreted depending on the era in which you were raised, the religion which you were taught, also the morals and values that were passed on to you from your parents.
I feel that most children at some time have an infatuation with another person of the opposite sex. For most, this is an almost inevitable happening. Is this wrong? Largely, I think it is part of growing up, a part of the learning process. There are also other issues that may be brought to the surface after a more detailed look into the piece.
One of the issues that come into question is the respectability of the priest. Quoting from the essay, “The former tenant of our house, a priest, had died in the back drawing room. Air, musty from having been long enclosed, hung in all rooms, and the waste room behind the kitchen was littered with old useless papers. Among these I found a few paper-covered books, the pages of which were curled and damp. The Abbot by Walter Scott, The Devout Communicant and the Memoirs of Vidocq. I liked the last best because its leaves were yellow.” The Memoirs of Vidocq has been defined as a collection of sexually suggestive stories about a French criminal turned detective. It is my interpretation that priests take an oath of celibacy, they are not required to have never been sexually active. We are all human, and as humans we to a greater extent have the same hormones and chemicals in our body. Of course at some point in time, there is going to be sexual desire no matter who you are. This is only natural. The essay does not state that he acted upon those desires. This would be something assumed by the reader. Again quoting from the essay, “He had been a very charitable priest; in his will he had left all his money to institutions and the furniture in his house to his sister.” Some would be appalled at the fact he had money to leave to institutions as in the oath they take as priest; they also commit to a life of poverty. In my opinion, no matter who you are, you require some type of money. There certainly are items that you would need at some point in time that your parish would not be able to supply in an appropriate time frame. Also, who is to say he didn’t have but five dollars to his name, and left one dollar to five institutions?
I personally feel that this young man is just going through what we, as humans must endure to get to adulthood. Peeking at Mangan’s sister through the blind would indicate to me that he is scared of what is happening to him, possibly a feeling of inadequacy. He is not comfortable enough with his feelings that he is able to confront her with them.
When the narrator reminds his uncle about going to Araby, he states that he hung his heavy over coat on the hall tree and made it rock. The narrator says that he could interpret these signs. Initially, I assumed that the uncle had been at the pub. However, after some further consideration, I have the tendency to feel that he probably had a long day at work, was simply so involved with his responsibilities, knowing he has a family to take care of, didn’t realize what time it was. The uncle states, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” I look at this statement and feel that he worked hard all day long, completely understands why he wants to go to the bazaar, gives him his money, and sends him on his way.
I don’t feel that there was any big “awakening” at the bazaar. I simply think that after overhearing the conversation realized how foolish he had been acting and decided that maybe this was not the approach he wanted to take in life.
Many essays and short stories can be interpreted in many different ways. There are many variables, your age, your morals and values, your upbringing, religious background, morals and values, plus more. I feel that all of these things need to be taken into consideration when critiquing another person’s interpretation. We are each entitled to our own opinion, others don’t have to like it or even agree with it. They should respect it however.