Araby was the name given to a grand oriental fete, held in Dublin, between the 14th and the 19th May 1894. It was a sort of bazaar, the name of a special market, organized for the benefit of charity and to provide side-shows for entertainment
Against the background of Araby, Joyce’s story, after the same name, is presented. The story depicts how the author in his boyhood was allured by the call of Araby. The very name seemed to have spelled him, drawn him to a vision of oriental pomp and splendor and roused in him, unconsciously enough, a sense of romance and mystery for which his young heart might have thirsted.
Joyce’s story Araby has an impressive, though intricate, plot. It shows a boy’s longing for going to Araby which was to his imagination a place of mystic charms and romances. After securing his uncle’s permission, he eagerly looked for the day of his visit to that place. At last, he went, rather late at night, there to relish the magnificence of the beauty and romance, associated with this oriental name, which he had cherished dearly for long.
In conclusion, the story depicts the boy’s anguish and frustration after his actual visit to Araby. The author entered the bazaar, as already observed, rather late. He then passed through different stalls, with a yearning for the enjoyment of that which might give him a sense of romance and beauty. But he could not appease his appetite and his dream remained unrealized. The prosaic environment of the place shocked his sense of romance and beauty. His mind grew discontented and enraged after his visit to Araby, where he could not have what he so long had expected. He came out thoroughly disappointed, rather driven out, with a sense of utter anguish.
The term Araby, as the title of the story, is used symbolically. It does not mean here simply the bazaar after that oriental name. It represents an ideal- an ideal of romance and beauty-which haunts the mind, that is lost in the dull reality of a work-a-day world. The boy’s longing for Araby and his eagerness to go there in his quest for romance and beauty and his stark experience there are all indicative of the grim failure of life to find and get the long-cherished ideal of romance and beauty. From this viewpoint, Araby seems to stand as a sort of evasive ideal that tempts and draws with its vision of mystery and beauty but is never actually attained or enjoyed.
The symbolical aspect of Araby, as a title of the story, has another interpretation. The name Araby, as already implied, is connected with oriental pomp and splendor. It possesses a charm of romance that fascinates a young and impulsive mind. Just from the boy’s standpoint, Araby seems to be a place of dreamy beauty and mystic charm that ever haunts human imagination. Joyce’s story indicates this human imagination in search of romance and beauty.
Indeed, the very name Araby, connected with oriental pomp and splendor, mystery and thrill, has a haunting romance a dreamy association. Joyce’s story is one of dreams and desires, of the quest for romance and beauty of a young heart, pinned down in an oppressive realistic setting. The story implies a rude contrast between vision and reality, between the drab surroundings of a commercial city and a romantic dreamy fascination for all beauty. The title of the story, from this angle, appears not merely pithy, but also appropriate to the very subject-matter of the story, which relies mostly on the fringe of a romantic mind’s mystic yearning for an elusive ideal in a mechanical, material setting. From all these angles, the title Araby aptly represents the theme of the story.