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Literature and James Joyce

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James Joyce revolutionized the literature of his times with his elements of imagery, stream of consciousness narration, motif and a unique language pattern, as evident in his short story in Dubliners, “Araby” which etches the quest of the boy-narrator setting forth on a journey to the Oriental ‘bazaar’ – Araby to bring back a token of his mute passion for his neighborhood sweetheart.

Joyce uses the quest motif in this story to portray the voyage from innocence to experience – literally the realization of the boy-protagonist the harsh truth of life at the epiphanic climax at the stall in Araby.

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Biblically the quest may be perceived as the legend of the Holy Grail, as the boy shields his ardor of love from the ugly crowd of the decadent Dublin environment. There are subtle indications of this eternal quest – the central apple-tree in the garden denoting the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden which signifies the Fall of man. The description of Mangan’s sister (unnamed to bestow her universal identity) embodies the essence of purity in the pervasive gloom of the locality – the light lending her the aura of a halo, her virginal white dress,

While she spoke she turned a silver bracelet round and round her wrist… the white curve of her neck, lit up her hair…, lit up the hand upon the railing.

… caught the white border of a petticoat, just visible as she stood at ease.[1]

The girl symbolizes the ideal destination of the protagonist for whom he can cross the ‘flaring streets” in search of the enchanted gift.[2]

The narrator overcomes all hurdles and difficulties and finally arrives at the half-darkened Bazaar, only to witness his idealism shatter at the frivolous banter of the counter girl, the jarring noise of coins in his pocket, to face the mundane actuality of existence. It is, as the critic Ezra pound famously described, “Much better than a ‘story,’ it is a vivid waiting.”[3] It is the eternal quest for the truth couched in the tale of the idealistic adolescent.

Works Cited

  1. Joyce, James. “Araby”. Classic Short Stories. Site created by B&L Associates, Bangor, Maine, U.S.A. 1995-2007 <http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/araby.html>
  2. Pound, Ezra. Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, ed. T.S. Eliot (London, 1954).p. 400
  3. Scholes, Robert and A. Walton Litz, eds., Dubliners: Text, Criticism, and Notes (Penguin, 1976; originally published, 1914), pp.29- 35.
  4. James Joyce.  “Araby”. Classic Short Stories. Site created by B&L Associates, Bangor, Maine, U.S.A. 1995-2007 <http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/araby.html>
  5. Robert Scholes and A. Walton Litz, eds., Dubliners: Text, Criticism, and Notes (Penguin, 1976; originally published, 1914), pp.29- 35.
  6. Ezra Pound, Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, ed. T.S. Eliot (London, 1954).p. 400

Cite this Literature and James Joyce

Literature and James Joyce. (2016, Jul 08). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/james-joyce-revolutionized-the-literature/

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