Joyce and Imagism

The prose stories “Araby” and “Eveline” by James Joyse embody modern poetry through the techniques of Imagism, the way in which the stories end, and the modern theme of society’s alienating environment. “Araby” uses Imagism through its sparseness.   The lack of names for the two main characters shows this sparseness.  The narrator has no name, and the girl he is fond of is simply called “Mangan’s sister.”  The namelessness shows the emptiness of the modern world.    The way in which Joyce uses dialogue is also sparse.  Dialogue is indicated by dashes rather than quotations:  “—It’s well for you she said.  –If I go, I said, I will bring you something.”  Another way “Araby” fits in with modern poetry is in its lack of a clean resolution.  “Araby” ends with the narrator outside the bazaar at closing: “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.”  This quote shows the narrator’s epiphany at the story’s conclusion of the inhumanity of the world which prevents love and identity.  The story lacks a clean ending in that it ends with a realization rather than with all the loose strings tied since the reader remains uncertain about what happens between the narrator and Mangan’s sister.   The quote also demonstrates Imagist language which is stripped of the embellishments of the Victorian Period.

Joyce uses Imagist techniques and ideas in “Eveline” as well.  Like “Araby,” “Eveline” uses dashes instead of quotations when showing dialogue and ends on a realization rather than a clean conclusion.  Eveline remains on land as Frank calls her.  “She set her white face to him, passive, like a helpless animal.  Her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition.”  Eveline makes the decision to stay on land rather than go off with Frank, but no more is said of what Frank does.  This quote keeps in line with the straightforward style of modernist poetry.  It also presents modernity as cold and dehumanizing like “Araby” with Eveline deciding to remain on land, likely to care for the house as her mother driven to “craziness” did, rather than pursue the love of her man.  She concludes the story as an “animal” without any sign of emotion rather than a human.


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