Modern Themes in Araby and Eveline

James Joyce, although a key prose writer, uses strong modern poetic features to emotionally grip the reader into the character’s mind. He writes the details of the situation, letting the words imply what is really going on. Joyce shows, but does not tell.

In “Araby,” the boy sits in his house looking outside, “Through one of the broken panes I heard the rain impinge upon the earth, the fine incessant needles of water playing in the sodden beds. Some distant lamp or lighted window gleamed below me. I was thankful I could see so little” (2220). He has a constant anxiety, like the pattering rain outside. There is a light shining on him, but he is too dazed and distracted to know what is causing it. His mind is overwhelming itself. Joyce portrays these emotions only by the descriptions of the surfaces around him, in an Imagist style.

Later on is the boy’s journey to the Araby bazaar, “At Westland Row Station a crowd of people pressed to the carriage doors; but the porters moved them back, saying that it was a special train for the bazaar. I remained alone in the bare carriage. In a few minutes the train drew up beside an improvised wooden platform” (2221). The self-introduced visions of a magical bazaar are crumbling before the boy’s eyes. He does not mention his emotions but the slow buildup and confusion is exposed. Joyce uses the key words, “alone, bare, and improvised.” The boy shows no explicit emotion, but the reader experiences it as the boy does. In a way, he is both calm and emotional.

Joyce’s prose, in a poetic manner, does not come to the reader. Instead, the reader must search for and find it.


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