Monday, September 24, 2012

Dubliners--"Araby" and "Eveline"

After "Sisters" and "An Encounter," the next story in Dubliners is "Araby."  This story follows a young boy in Dublin, perhaps the same one from the first stories (Joyce drew inspiration from his own life, so this young boy is likely somewhat autobiographical). The boy is in love with his friend's older sister, although he does not completely understand his own feelings.  One evening while visiting his friend, he at last manages to speak to his love.  She asks him if he's going to Araby, a bazaar planned for that Saturday.  She longs to go, but can't because her convent school is having a retreat (Is this a commentary on how the church spoils even the most innocent pleasures?).  He tells her that he will bring her something if he goes to the bazaar, then he anxiously begs his aunt and uncle to let him go.  Although they agree, on the day of Araby, his uncle forgets his promise.  He comes home late, and it is implied that he is drunk--he talks to himself, and wobbles around.  His uncle tells the boy he's sorry, and finally gives him money to go the bazaar.  But the train is delayed, and when he finally arrives, everything is shutting down.  The shopgirl at the one stand he finds open ignores him, and he realizes that he likely can't afford any of the china at her stand anyway.  The bazaar grows ever darker as it shuts down, and finally in complete darkness, the boy "[burns] with anguish and anger."  Just as the girl's enjoyment of Araby is ruined by the demands of the church, the boy's dogged attempt to visit the bar is relentlessly spoiled, first by his forgetful alcoholic uncle, then by the indifference he encounters at the stand.  The sweet innocent desire to please his beloved is transformed into bitter frustration with the failures of society.

In the story "Eveline," a young girl is at first eager to escape her dreary life with a lover who plans to marry her and take her away to Buenos Ayres.  Yet as she contemplates her life, she becomes more and more reluctant to leave.  Her father is a greedy, abusive alcoholic, but she starts to remember the pathetically few goods times she had with him as a child.  She tries to reassure herself that he's getting old, and isn't so bad after all, even though she fears his violence and he has violently shaken her several times.  Her self-deception keeps her from fully recognizing the miserable trap her life in Ireland has become.  A street organ reminds her of a promise, that she made to her dying mother to keep the family together. But she also remembers her mother going mad right before her death--this implies that Eveline has only imagined this promise, perhaps creating it in her mind to justify her staying.  Yet, she also feels that her current life is a trap that she is desperate to escape.  Her emotions swirl so powerfully within her that she becomes paralyzed with dread as her ship is about to leave, and she refuses to board it with her lover.  By remaining behind, Eveline has doomed herself to her mother's fate.  The ship stands for the hope of immigration, but Eveline is stranded on the docks, unable to even bid her fiance farewell, or give him a sign of love.  Eveline's paralysis reflects the economic and political paralysis that Joyce observed in Ireland.

Dubliners blogs:

"The Sisters" and "An Encounter"

"After the Race" and "Two Gallants"

"The Boarding House"

"A Little Cloud" and "Counterparts"

"Clay" and "A Painful Case"

"Ivy Day in the Committee Room"

"A Mother"


"The Dead"

Blogs for James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five

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