Monday, March 3, 2008

John Mutford's 7th Short Story Pick- James Joyce's "Araby"

Short Story Monday

Cross posted at The Book Mine Set.

James Joyce's "Araby" from his collection The Dubliners, is a brilliant coming-of-age story. How does Joyce manage to do this convincingly in a few short pages when it takes some novelists an entire book? Such stories detail the transition from adolescence to adulthood, and the length depends on whether or not the author can prove this happens over a course of events or can be learned through a single lesson.

In "Araby," Joyce asserts that the crucial lesson is the realization that fantasies don't, or at least they rarely, measure up to reality. This moral comes suddenly at the end, and at first I was taken aback by the abruptness. But, after contemplating it a little more, I think that made it more effective. It not only captures the intensity of the new awareness, it also parallels ejaculation. Joyce not-so-subtly hints at masturbation several times throughout this story and what is that but the ultimate symbol of fantasy versus reality?

The Soundtrack:
1. I Go Blind- 54-40
2. I Touch Myself (Divinyls cover)- Scala Choir
3. Catch The Wind (Donovan choir)- The Irish Descendants
4. The Sheik of Araby- The Beatles
5. Wake Up- Arcade Fire


Oblique Poet said...


Rebecca Reid said...

I just read all of Dubliners and yes, I thought he tended to end abruptly in all of them. I didn't really like it for most of them; Araby remains my favorite!