What picture of Dublin society do you get in Araby

What picture of Dublin society do you get in Araby

Question: What picture of Dublin society do you get in James Joyce’s short story “Araby”?


Araby is an acclaimed short story by James Joyce (1882-1941). The story depicts the transformation of an adolescent boy from imagination to reality. Though the focus of the story is on the failure of the protagonist’s search for ideal beauty and romance, it gives us a moving picture of Dublin city. The writer shares his experience with the lifestyle of his motherland’s capital city.

Dull and dirty city

At the very outset of the story, we get the picture of North Richmond Street in detail. The city of Dublin has been presented as a dull and dirty city. The street is blind and silent. It only seems lively after school hours of the Christian Brothers’ school. A two-story deserted house is situated at the end of the blind street and detached from the neighboring houses. The other houses situated on both sides of the street are dull and appear pale. Semi-darkness always exists on the street because the houses are very thick and congested. The citizens of the street houses could not see sunshine and after sunset, the lamps of the street burn very feebly.

“The space of sky above us was

the colour of the ever-changing violet

and towards it, the lamps of the street lifted their feeble lanterns.”

By this brief vivid description, it is realizable that Dublin is not a perfect city for living at all.

Click here: For all notes of short stories

Much populated city

The houses of Dublin city are so congested that there is no space for the boys where they can play. For the want of open space, the boys play in the dark space behind. After sunset, they play in the semi-dark street. Light comes from the kitchen windows. The shadows of houses are seen or cast here and there, and the boys usually hide under such shadows to avoid their guardians. The hero of the story is really unable to see the realities around him. Thus, the author depicts that Dublin is not a well-planned city.

Poor city

The marketplace of the city has been depicted as a dull and dirty place too. There is hardly anything pleasant about the whole environment. When the adolescent hero goes to market with his aunt on Saturday evening, he sees that the drunken are jolting each other, the women are bargaining, and the shop boys are calling the customers. The marketplace is a gathering of poor people. The street singers also sing for money. In the better situation of the market, the narrator imagines his beloved face and the bitter situation turns into sweeter for him.


By the termination of discussion, it can be asserted that in the story “Araby”, Dublin has been presented as an unpleasant city to show the bitter realities of city life although The plot of the story is complex because the actions take place in the heart of the protagonist.

Ruhul Huda
Ruhul Huda

You can call me Mr. Huda. I am a researcher and doing this work for years. I like to learn everywhere. So, feel free to share your experience with me.

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