James Joyce Araby Final Scene Analysis

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The ending of James Joyce’s “Araby” is certain to leave its reader reeling. The final scene, in which the young protagonist fails in his mission to purchase a prize for the girl he loves, drips with disappointment. The reader feels a profound melancholy which matches the protagonist’s own, an impressive feat given the story’s short length and the lack of description, or even a name, given to the boy. How does Joyce arrive at this remarkable ending? By utilizing the trappings of the Boy Meets Girl and Quest “masterplots” in his story only to reveal the story as an Initiation, Joyce creates an experience for his readers that mirrors that of the protagonist. In order to appreciate Joyce’s expertly crafted tale, one must examine the way in which …show more content…

He does not return to her doorstep and present it like a holy grail, his proclamation of love sending her into a delicate swoon. As much as the boy and the reader might hope for such a romantic outcome, the reality is far more pedestrian. The boy arrives at Araby as it is already beginning to close, and is so overwhelmed and intimidated by its silent, unfriendly atmosphere that he leaves empty-handed, shop lights flickering out around him (Joyce, p. 383). The final line is sobering: “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger (Joyce, p. 383).” In his lofty imaginings the boy has imagined himself not as who he is, but as who he wishes to be - a figure out of a fairy tale, “[bearing his] chalice safely through a throng of foes (Joyce, p. 380).” In these last few lines, the protagonist discovers something uglier, but far more grounded in reality. He sees his quest borne from infatuation as nothing but a childish vanity. He has achieved self-reflection, a sense of scale that puts his actions into necessary perspective. Joyce has pulled back the veil and revealed the true masterplot at the heart of this story: the Initiation into wisdom, painful though it may

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