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A gloomy house in a drab Dublin neighborhood in Dublin, where a young boy lives provides the setting of this story. The boy lives with his aunt and uncle as in the first story in this volume. Discovering three old damp books, one of them Walter Scott’s "The Abbot", the boy escapes into the fantasy world of romance.
LIST OF CHARACTERS
The boy protagonist
A young adolescent, just becoming aware of romance- a dreamer.
The girl of his dreams
Known to the reader only as Mangan’s sister, she is a pretty but shadowy figure, never fleshed out.
The boy’s aunt
Sympathetic but vaguely present in the background.
A kindly but absent-minded person, unwittingly causes the boy much suffering.
In this third story of ‘Dubliners’ we again have a young boy, perhaps older than the earlier two. He builds up a shadowy romantic fantasy around his friend Mangan’s sister whom he scarcely knows.
There is no real antagonist in the traditional sense. Some conflict arises when his uncle is insensitive to the boy’s wishes and forgets to give him the money for his visit to the bazaar. But this is due to absent-mindedness not real opposition.
Against great odds the boy reaches the bazaar called ‘Araby’ almost at closing time. He is not able to buy any gift for his ‘lady-love’ and the flirtatious backchat of the sales girl and her friend’s fills him with revulsion at the hollowness of his fantasy.
The boy has escaped from his drab surroundings and loneliness into a fantasy romance. His failure to execute a small wish of his ‘lady-love’ fills him with frustration and the talk he overhears makes him aware of the futility of his dreams.
At the outset the author sets up a drab, rather gloomy mood through his description of the dullness and monotony of the neighborhood. As the story develops his touch is satirical, but sympathetic, towards the boys and feverish, almost religious attitude towards the girl.