From LitWiki
AuthorJames Joyce
Published inDubliners
Publication date1914

“Araby” is a short story by James Joyce that appeared in the collection Dubliners published in 1914.


Araby is about a young boy who falls for a girl who lives across the street. When the girl expresses her desire to attend a particular bazaar, he sees this as the perfect chance to win her heart by visiting the bazaar and bringing her a gift. When the narrator's hopes of Araby are dashed, he finds that reality does not always match his expectations.


The Narrator

The narrator is a young boy who lives with his aunt and uncle. He develops a crush on Mangan's sister and begins to lose interest on everything around him and his main goal is to be with her.

Narrator's Uncle

The narrator and his friends seem to fear him by hiding in the shadows until he was safely housed. He owes money to Mrs. Mercer the pawnbrokers wife. The text implies that he may have a drinking problem when he comes home late drunk, trying to avoid giving the narrator money for the Araby market.

Narrator's Aunt

The narrator's aunt is like a mother figure to him. She appears to be a devout Catholic who is concerned that the Araby bazaar is a Freemason gathering. She uses religious terminology to warn the narrator that he might not be able to make it to the market on "this night of our Lord." She talked his uncle into giving him money for keeping him up so late.


The narrator’s friend from the Christian Brothers' School. He lives across the street from the narrator and often plays in the street with him and the other boys before dinner.

Mangan's Sister

The older sister of the narrator's friend, Mangan. The narrator is madly in love with her. When she comes outside to call her brother in for tea, she routinely interrupts the boys playing in the street. She is a member of a convent and is interested in the Araby bazaar, which piques the narrator's interest in it. There is no evidence that she is aware of the narrator's crush on her.

The Priest

The former tenant of the narrator’s house, who died in the back drawing room. He is mentioned because some of his belongings, including three books that the narrator is interested in, are still at the house. The priest primarily serves as a moral reference point – all of these objects imply that the priest had a life outside of the church, that he rode a bicycle and read crime and romance novels.

Mrs. Mercer

On the night of the Araby market, the pawnbroker's widow waits for the narrator's uncle to return home and ask for the money he owes her. She's described as a "old, garrulous woman" who collects used postage stamps to sell to collectors for profit, usually for religious purposes.

Female Shopkeeper

As the narrator approaches her stall at the Araby bazaar, a young woman is flirting with two men. The narrator notices that she and the men with whom she converses all have English accents. The woman approaches the narrator and asks if he plans to buy anything, but he observes that she does not sound “encouraging” and appears to speak to him solely for the purpose of her job. And her flirting with the Englishmen appears to have made him realize the foolishness and vanity of his own attempt to impress Mangan's sister with a gift.

Major themes

One theme of the story is love, he has a crush on Mangan's sister and "her image accompanied me even in places that most hostile to romance".

Development history

Publication history

Explanation of the Story's Title

"Araby" is a bazaar.[1] It represents the narrator's wish to escape the drab monotony of life in Dublin.[2]

Literary significance and reception

Awards and nominations


A movie adaptation of "Araby" was released in 1999, directed by Dennis J. Courtney.[3]


Works Cited

See also: Annotated Bibliography.

  • Joyce, James (2002). "Araby". In Sipiora, Phillip (ed.). Reading and Writing about Literature. Upper Saddle Creek, NJ: Prentice Hall. pp. 38–41.
  • Kestner, Joseph (2010). "James Joyce's 'Araby' on Film". Joyce Studies Annual: 241–247. Retrieved 2021-09-13.
  • Malty, Supriya (March 2, 2020). "What is the significance of the title of the story "Araby" by James Joyce?". Literary Ocean. Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  • Power, Chris (December 20, 2012). "Darkness in Literature: James Joyce's 'Araby'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2022-02-02.