The Maturity of a Boy
Passion, adolescence, foolishness, and maturity are the first words that come to ones mind to describe James Joyces short story, Araby. In it, he writes about a boy who falls deeply in love with his best friends sister, who through the story, doesnt seem to notice him or care about him. The boy, who has yet to be named, lives in a poor and run-down town. During the story, certain characters contribute to the boys developing sense of maturity, and eventually, lead him into adulthood. Mangans sister, the boys uncle, the priest, and the girl at the bazaar all serve the purpose of molding the boy into a mature person.
Undoubtedly the main person who unknowingly helps the boy along the path of maturity is Mangans sister. She is the boys crush. Whenever he sees her, he follows her wherever she goes. This is strange because the boy admits to hardly ever speaking to her, and he does not know her name. He even pulls up the blinds so that he can watch her. These points show the boys immaturity, but such can be expected from a boy his age. He thinks about Mangans sister and visualizes her image everywhere he goes. He idolizes her as an angel. She seems to become a symbol of what he is living for, and she gives meaning to his life. He shows that he is truly in love with her when he starts to talk with her and forgets what he says, which is because he is so caught up in the moment talking with her to think about what he is trying to say. The phrase She asked me was I going to Araby. I forgot whether I answered yes or no., best exemplifies these ideas. His immaturity shows in these scenes, but in the end, he finally realizes how immature he really has been by following this girl around. By saying that, we find out that the boy does not just realize his immaturity right away, it takes him a while to mature enough to figure this fact out on his own, and therefore, Mangans sister plays a major role in the development of the boy. Aside from the girl, there were also other people with a major impact on the boys maturing process.
Another one of the characters who aided the boy in the development of his maturity, was his uncle. The boys uncle is a symbol of the boys father figure. The boys uncle always seems to be stressed with the difficulties of his life. He shows that he is stressed by the way that he comes home late and forgets things. When the uncle forgets that the boy wants to go to the bazaar, he does not sound like he cares about what the boy wants to do, but yet, he also is perceived to be very humble about these things. He exemplifies that he does not really care about what the boy wants when the boy tries to tell his uncle that he wants to go to the bazaar. All that the uncle does is get off of the topic and he begins to ask questions about The Arabs Farewell to His Steed. The boy does not get angry though; he just walks away which shows he has developed maturity. By coming home late to take the boy to the bazaar, the uncle again shows how he does not care about what the boy wants to do. Again, the boy is not perceived to be angry at this point. He is only described as not smiling. By acting that way, the boy sounds as though he is learning to cope with the various stresses of becoming an adult. As the boy gets older, he will not want to be like his uncle, and therefore, he will have matured in that sense. Other than the boys uncle, who is essential in the development of the boy, there is yet another character that is also just as important.
The priest also makes an impression on the development of the boy. Now, the priest has already died in the back drawing room of the boys house, but some of his possessions remain, such as some books which the boy enjoys reading. The boy seems that he is trying to follow in the footsteps of the priest in that he enjoys reading the book that has yellow pages the best. The pages were probably colored yellow because the priest had read the book continuously. For reasons unclear, the boy holds the library as sacred. Perhaps the boy thinks that being in the same room as the priest gives him a closeness in his life that he never has because of a loss of parents. The boy enjoys reading the priests old books also, which occupies a lot of time. The boy probably reads books because there is nothing better to do, being that the town is described in the beginning as being devoid of life. The boy learns a lot from what the priest has done, and from that, the boy develops maturity from him.
The last character, which aids the boy in developing maturity, is the girl from the bazaar. The girl at the fair gives the boy a taste of reality and what it is like in the outside world and only speaks to the boy because that is her job. The boy is never directly described as liking the girl, but from the boys reaction to this event, he doesnt seem like he is used to being turned away like the results from this encounter. The girl from the fair could quite possibly be the main maturing factor for the boy. He learns that not everyone in his life will have the caring personality and congenial attitude like that of his aunt. The girl is perceived to have left the biggest and longest-lasting impression on the boy, as is evident in the last few lines of the short story where the boy says, I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity.
With the help Mangans sister, the boys uncle, the priest, and the girl at the bazaar, the boy learns how to be a mature adult. The lessons that those characters have taught the boy will forever change him, as well as the reader, because of the many scenes of maturity, love and rejection. Joyce has captivated a diverse audience of readers that ranges from young, free-spirited kids to old, atrophying adults because of his astounding ability to relate the story to them. This story of the process of maturity will, in no doubt, teach the boy to never again chase after beauty alone, because if he does, he will once again wind up empty and detached with no meaning left in his life.
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