A Summary and Analysis of James Joyce’s “Araby”

The sight, smell, and sound in Araby James Joyce, in Araby, appeals to human senses greatly to create a psychological effect on the reader. One of the notable aspects of the roles played by the senses can be identified in the vivid description that James Joyce uses throughout the story. Arguably, the story’s plot and its narration describe love in a realistic and detailed manner. The purpose is to evaluate the influences that the appeal to the senses, as adopted by James Joyce influences, the overall impact of a story on a reader. The story describes the tale of a young boy, the narrator, who is very attracted to his friend’s sister. In a quest to win her love, the young Dublin lad travels to a bazaar known as Araby. James Joyce concentrates more on the emotional perspective when narrating the story whereby he describes the emotions felt by the narrator as a result of his lustful attraction towards Megan. James Joyce focuses on the description of the surrounding by appealing to the common senses to
1) appeal to the reader’s imagination and create a vivid mental picture,
2) to describe a character’s emotion – such as to indicate boredom, and
3) to pass the intended message with as much clarity as possible.

Some of the key areas that Joyce addresses include his environment and the narrator’s feeling of his achievements with life so far. Joyce appeals to the imagination by describing the site in which Megan and the narrator met. Joyce describes the view seen by the characters in great detail such that, the reader has to imagine or picture the described scenery. Joyce writes, “When we met in the street the houses had grown somber. The space of sky above us was the color of ever-changing violet and towards it, the lamps of the street lifted their feeble lanterns” (Joyce 120). By outlining the color of the space above the characters, Joyce appeals to the reader’s vivid imagination, which triggers a psychological reflex causing the reader to imagine the view. By appealing to the sense of sight, the author is able to create a vivid imagination in the reader, engaging the audience in the setting of the story.

Joyce also describes the sounds that the characters heard during the scene as well. “Our shouts echoed in the silent street. Our shouts echoed in the silent street” (Joyce 120). It would directly trigger a reader’s imagination of the echoes that were heard throughout the streets. The depiction of the smell of the city also contributes to reinforcing the reader’s perception in shaping his or her attitudes toward the city. Since the narrator repeatedly cites how bored and unhappy his city made him. The use of negative smells reinforces a negative attitude towards the city. The use of such negative adjectives enables the reader to form a greater connection with the lead character, an approach that contributes to the reader’s perception of the entire piece.

Additionally, Joyce appeals to the sense of smell throughout the story. For instance, the author recurrently describes the smell in scenes. In one part of the story, Joyce writes, “…to the back doors of the dark dripping gardens where odors arose from the ashpits to the dark odorous stables where a coachman smoothed and combed the horse…” (Joyce 122).Joyce’s vivid description of the odors appeals to a reader’s sense of smell. Joyce is so descriptive that he even describes the atmosphere. In Araby, Joyce describes the stinging nature of the cold in the scene. Such vivid depictions create a more realistic, imaginable and relatable scene to readers, making them more interested in the readings.

Conclusively, James Joyce concentrates on two major areas, which is the description of the senses such as describing emotions and the feelings that the characters undergo and detailed descriptions of the scene using the five key senses. While most authors concentrate on the description of the setting alone, Joyce extends her descriptions to other senses such as describing the smell, the sense of feeling – for instance, the effect the cold weather had on the skin, the description of taste as well as the describing sounds within the scenes. The use of such an approach makes the paper interesting and more appealing to the readers.

Work Cited
Joyce, James. Dubliners. Eds. Araby. Gutenberg, 2015. Web. March 27, 2015. Available at

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