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James Joyce Araby 主题情节人物及背景分析


"Araby"
Backgrounds Introduction
Ireland's major religion, Roman Catholicism, dominated Irish culture, as it continues to do today although to a lesser extent. Many families sent their children to schools run by Jesuit priests (like the one the narrator in attends) and convent schools run by nuns (like the one Mangan's sister attends). Catholicism is often seen as a source of the frequent conflict in Irish culture between sensuality and asceticism, a conflict that figures prominently in Joyce's autobiographical novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man . In many ways, Catholicism, particularly as practiced at the turn of the century, was an extremely sensuous religion, emphasizing intense personal spiritual experience and surrounding itself with such rich trappings as beautiful churches, elegant paintings and statues, otherworldly music, and sumptuous vestments and altar decorations. On the other hand, the Church's official attitude toward enjoyment of the senses and particularly toward sexuality was severe and restrictive. The ideal woman was the Virgin Mary, who miraculously combined virginal purity with maternity. Motherhood was exalted, but any enjoyment of sexuality, even in marriage, was considered a sin, as were the practice of birth control and abortion. The inability to reconcile the spiritual and sensual aspects of human nature can be seen in the boy's feelings toward Mangan's sister in He imagines his feelings for her as a "chalice"--a sacred religious object--and so worshipful is his attitude that he hesitates even to speak to her. Yet his memories of her focus almost exclusively on her body--her figure silhouetted by the light, the "soft rope of her hair," "the white curve of her neck," the border of her petticoat. Even the image of the chalice is ambivalent, since its cup-like shape and function suggests a sexual connotation. The boy never resolves this conflict between spirituality and sensuality. Instead, when confronted with the tawdriness of a shopgirl's flirtation at the bazaar, he abruptly dismisses all his feelings as mere "vanity."

Introduction of the story and the author
"Araby" is one of fifteen short stories that together make up James Joyce's collection, Dubliners. Although Joyce wrote the stories between 1904 and 1906, they were not published until 1914.Dubliners paints a portrait of life in Dublin, Ireland, at the turn of the 20th century. Its stories are arranged in an order reflecting the development of a child into a grown man. The first three stories are told from the point of view of a young boy, the next three from the point of view of an adolescent, and so on. "Araby" is the last story of the first set, and is told from the perspective of a boy just on the verge of adolescence. The story takes its title from a real festival which came to Dublin in 1894 when Joyce was twelve years old. Joyce is one of the most famous writers of the Modernist period of literature, which runs roughly from 1900 to the end of World War II. Modernist works often include characters who are spiritually lost and themes that reflect a cynicism toward institutions the writer had been taught to respect, such as government and religion. Much of the literature of this period is

experimental; Joyce's writing reflects this in the use of dashes instead of quotation marks to indicate that a character is speaking. Joyce had a very difficult time getting Dubliners published. It took him over ten years to find a publisher who was willing to risk publishing the stories because of their unconventional style and themes. Once he found a publisher, he fought very hard with the editors to keep the stories the way he had written them. Years later, these stories are heralded not only for their portrayal of life in Dublin at the turn of the century, but also as the beginning of the career of one of the most brilliant English-language writers of the twentieth century.

Plot
"Araby" opens on North Richmond street in Dublin, where "an uninhabited house of two storeys stood at the blind end, detached from its neighbours in a square ground." The narrator, who remains unnamed throughout the story, lives with his aunt and uncle. He describes his block, then discusses the former tenant who lived in his house: a priest who recently died in the back room. This priest has a library that attracts the young narrator, and he is particularly interested in three titles: a Sir Walter Scott romance, a religious tract, and a police agent's memoirs. The narrator talks about being a part of the group of boys who play in the street. He then introduces Mangan's sister, a girl who captivates his imagination even though he rarely, if ever, speaks with her. He does stare at her from his window and follow her on the street, however, often thinking of her "even in places the most hostile to romance." While in the marketplace on Saturday nights, for example, he uses her image to guide him through the thronging crowd who yell their sales pitches and sing patriotic Irish ballads. He becomes misty-eyed just at the thought of her and retreats to the priest's dark room in order to deprive himself of other senses and think only of her. Finally, Mangan's sister speaks to him. She asks if he will be attending a church-sponsored fair that is coming soon to Dublin--a bazaar called "Araby." He is tongue-tied and cannot answer, but when she tells him that she cannot go because of a retreat that week in her convent, he promises to go and bring her a gift from the bazaar. From then on he can only think of the time when he will be at the fair; he is haunted by "the syllables of the word Araby." On the night he is supposed to attend the fair, his uncle is late returning home and he must wait to get money from him. He gets very anxious, and his aunt tells him that he may have to miss the bazaar, but his uncle does come home, apologetic that he had forgotten. After asking the boy if he knows a poem entitled "The Arab's Farewell to His Steed," the uncle bids the boy farewell. The boy takes a coin from his uncle and catches a train to the fair. Araby is closing down as he arrives and he timidly walks through the center of the bazaar. As he looks at the few stalls that are still open, he overhears a conversation between an English shop-girl and two young men. Their talk is nothing but idle gossip. The shop-girl pauses reluctantly to ask the boy if he wishes to buy anything, but he declines. As he walks slowly out of the hall amid the darkening

of the lights, he thinks that he is a "creature driven and derided by vanity" and his "eyes burned with anguish and anger."

Characters
Narrator: The narrator of this story is a young, sensitive boy who confuses a romantic crush and religious enthusiasm. All of the conflict in this story happens inside his mind. It is unlikely that the object of his crush, Mangan's sister, is aware of his feelings for her, nor is anybody else in this boy's small world. Because the boy's thoughts only reveal a part of the story, a careful reader must put together clues that the author gives. For example, the narrator mentions that the former tenant of the house he shares with his aunt and uncle was a priest, a representative of the Catholic church, who left behind three books which became important to the narrator. One is a romantic adventure by Sir Walter Scott; one is a religious pamphlet written by a Protestant; and the third is the exciting memoirs of a French policeman and master of disguise. These three books are not what a person would expect a Catholic priest to have in his library. So if this priest has non-religious literature in his library, then how devout can an average church-goer be expected to be? This turns out to be the case for the narrator, who confuses religious idealism with romance. The boy confuses the religious and secular worlds when he describes himself at the market with his aunt. He bears the chalice--the Communion cup--through a "throng of foes." He also describes Mangan's sister in terms often associated with the Virgin Mary. For the narrator, then, an ordinary grocery-shopping trip becomes a religious crusade, and a pretty girl down the street becomes a substitute for the Mother of God. The boy fuses together religious devotion for the Virgin Mary with his own romantic longing. Joyce is famous for creating characters who undergo an epiphany--a sudden moment of insight--and the narrator of "Araby" is one of his best examples. At the end of the story, the boy overhears a trite conversation between an English girl working at the bazaar and two young men, and he suddenly realizes that he has been confusing things. It dawns on him that the bazaar, which he thought would be so exotic and exciting, is really only a commercialized place to buy things. Furthermore, he now realizes that Mangan's sister is just a girl who will not care whether he fulfills his promise to buy her something at the bazaar. His conversation with Mangan's sister, during which he promised he would buy her something, was really only small talk--as meaningless as the one between the English girl and her companions. He leaves Araby feeling ashamed and upset. This epiphany signals a change in the narrator--from an innocent, idealistic boy to an adolescent dealing with harsh realities. Mangan's Sister: Mangan is one of the narrator's chums who lives down the street. His older sister becomes the object of the narrator's schoolboy crush. Mangan's sister has no idea how the narrator feels about her, however, so when they discuss "Araby," the bazaar coming to town, she is only being polite and friendly. She says she would like to go to the bazaar but cannot because she has to attend a school retreat that weekend. The narrator promises to buy her something at the bazaar if he goes, but it is unlikely that she takes this promise seriously.

While on the one hand the narrator describes her romantically, he also describes her in reverential terms which call to mind the Virgin Mary. This dual image description of Mangan's sister represents the religious and romantic confusion of the narrator. Mangan: Mangan is the same age and in the same class at the Christian Brothers school as the narrator, and so he and the narrator often play together after school. His older sister is the object of the narrator's confused feelings. Narrator's Aunt: The narrator's aunt, who is a mother figure in the story, takes the narrator with her to do the marketing. When it seems as though the uncle has forgotten his promise to the narrator that he could go to the bazaar, she warns the boy that he may have to "put off" the bazaar "for this night of Our Lord." While this statement makes her seem strict in a religious sense, she also exhibits empathy for the boy's plight. She pleads his case when the uncle forgets about the boy's plans to go to Araby. Narrator's Uncle: The narrator's uncle seems self-centered and very unreliable. When the narrator reminds him that he wants to go to the bazaar, he replies, "Yes, boy, I know." But on the Saturday evening of the bazaar, he has forgotten, which causes the narrator to arrive at the bazaar very late. When the uncle finally shows up, he has been drinking, and as the boy leaves for the bazaar he begins reciting the opening lines of the poem, "The Arab's Farewell to his Steed." Joyce's characterization of the uncle bears resemblance to his own father, who liked to drink and was often in debt. Joyce's inclusion of Mrs. Mercer, the pawnbroker's widow who waits for the uncle to return, suggests that the uncle owes money.

Themes
The narrator recalls a boyhood crush he had on the sister of a friend. He went to "Araby," a bazaar with an exotic Oriental theme, in order to buy a souvenir for the object of his crush. He arrived late, however, and when he overheard a shallow conversation between a female clerk and her male friends and saw the bazaar closing down, he was overcome with a sense of futility. Alienation and Loneliness The theme of isolation is introduced early in the story by the image of a deserted, isolated house and the narrator's recollection of a priest who lived and died in their back room. The young protagonist seems isolated within his family. There is no mention of his parents; he lives with his aunt and uncle, and the uncle, in particular, appears insensitive to the boy's feelings, coming home late even though he knows the boy wants to go to the bazaar. The boy's crush on his friend Mangan's sister seems to isolate him even further. He is too tongue-tied to initiate a relationship with her, worshipping her from afar instead. Moreover, his crush appears to isolate him from his friends. Whereas early in the story he is depicted as part of a group of friends playing in the street, after his crush develops his separation from the others is emphasized: he stands by the railings to be close to the girl while the other boys engage in horseplay, and as he waits in the house for his uncle to return so he can go to the bazaar the

noises from his friends playing in the street sound "weakened and indistinct." The story ends with him confronting his disillusionment alone in the nearly deserted bazaar. Change and Transformation The narrator experiences an emotional transformation--changing from an innocent young boy to a disillusioned adolescent--in the flash of an instant, although the reader can look back through the story and trace the forces that lead to the transformation. This change occurs through what Joyce called an "epiphany," a moment of sudden and intense insight. Although the narrator suddenly understands that his romantic fantasies are hopelessly at odds with the reality of his life, this understanding leaves him neither happy nor satisfied; instead, he feels "anguish and anger." It is not clear what impact the narrator's epiphany will have on his future development, only that that development has begun. Fantasy and Reality The story draws connections between the romantic idealism of the young protagonist's attitude toward Mangan's sister and romantic fantasies in the surrounding culture. Much of this romanticism seems to stem from religion, the pervasive presence of which is emphasized by mentions of the youngsters' parochial schools, repeated references to the dead priest, and the aunt 's fear that the bazaar might be a "Freemason" affair and her reference to "[T]his night of our Lord." The boy carries his thoughts of Mangan's sister like a "chalice through a throng of foes," and his crush inspires in him "strange prayers and praises." The way the girl herself is described--as an alluring but untouchable figure dramatically lit--and the boy's worshipful attitude give her something of the character of a religious statue. Popular culture is also suggested as a source of the boy's romanticism, in the references to Sir Walter Scott's The Abbot and the poem "The Arab's Farewell to His Steed." The contrast between fantasy and reality draws to a head at the Araby bazaar, whose exotic name is merely packaging for a crassly commercial venture. In the nearly deserted hall and the insipid flirtation he overhears between two men and a shopgirl, the protagonist is confronted with huge gap between his romantic fantasies of love and the mundane and materialistic realities of his life.

Construction
Through the use of a first person narrative, an older narrator recalls the confused thoughts and dreams of his adolescent self. Joyce uses this familiarity with the narrator 's feelings to evoke in readers a response similar to the boy's "epiphany"--a sudden moment of insight and understanding--at the turning point of the story. Point of View is told from the first person point of view, but its perspective is complicated by the gap in age and perception between the older narrator and the younger self he remembers. The story takes the form of a reminiscence about an apparent turning point in the narrator 's growth, a

partial explanation of how the young protagonist became the older self who is the narrator. The reader is given no direct information about the narrator, however, his relentless contrasting of his boyhood self's idealism with the tawdry details of his life, and the story 's closing line, create a somewhat bitter and disillusioned tone. It is left to the reader to decide how far the narrator has travelled toward a "true" understanding of reality. Symbolism Joyce's use of symbolism enriches the story 's meaning. The former tenant of the narrator's house, the Catholic priest, could be said to represent the entire Catholic church. By extension, the books left in his room--which include non-religious and non-Catholic reading--suggest a feeling of ambiguity toward religion in general and Catholicism in particular. The bazaar "Araby" represents the "East"--a part of the world that is exotic and mysterious to the Irish boy. It could also represent commercialism, since despite the boy's romantic imaginings its purpose is in fact to make money. Mrs. Mercer, the pawnbroker's widow, is another representative of materialism. To the narrator, Mangan's sister is a symbol of purity and feminine perfection. These qualities are often associated with the Virgin Mary, who also symbolizes the Catholic church. While the boy is at Araby, the various, and often contrasting, meanings of these symbols converge to produce his epiphany. Modernism Joyce is known as one of the leading authors of Modernism, a movement in art and literature in the first half of the twentieth century that emphasized experimentation and a break with traditional forms. In this early work Joyce's narrative technique is still fairly traditional and straightforward. However, several features of the story can be identified as experimental and modernist, particularly in the extent to which the reader is left to sort out the story 's meaning with little overt help from the author. The story concerns a relatively ordinary occurrence in the life of an ordinary person; we are never told directly how or why it might be important. We are given no direct information about the narrator, but must glean what we can about his character from the story he tells and the way in which he tells it; we are not even told what the age difference is between the narrator and his younger self. The story ends, as it begins, abruptly, with again no direct indication of the significance of the protagonist's "epiphany," his older self's attitude toward it, or what it meant for his further development. Much of the early criticism of -that the stories were "sordid" and lacked structure and a "point"--reflect the unfamiliarity and uneasiness of Joyce's contemporary readers with these innovations in storytelling.


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