Mapping Araby

Instead of just looking at Dublin, I tried to map the foreign references in Araby. I ended up with 3 places- Arabia from the reference to The Arab's Farewell to His Steed, France because of the french name of the Cafe Chantant, and England because of the English accents of the stall merchants. I noticed that in regards of the order they are presented in the story, the references go from the furthest away and get progresssively closer to Dublin. I think this parallels the boy's collapse of his naivete. When we're young, it seems like the world is so close and reachable, but I think that as the boy became more aware of 'reality' at least in the 'seeing through the mirages that make things seem magical' sense, the more he sees how small his world actually is. He said, "the syllables of the word Araby were called to me through the silence in which my soul luxuriated and cast an Eastern enchantment over me." (2) The boy saw Araby as this magical place, but when it turned out to be quite the opposite, it changed how he saw the world and himself. 

Even if that wasn't Joyce's purpose with the foreign references, they do give the sense of how far away from home the boy is. When the poem is mentioned, we're reminded that it's not his father he's waiting for, it's his uncle, which seems out of place and furthermore, he's drunk and forgot about him, which isn't very 'home-y' at all. And then at Araby, it's definitely not what he's used to, which is the little square that he's used to calling home, but it's also a let down because although they are different places, they aren't magical places at all. 

Comments

This is a really nice way of reading the story through geographical imagination and exoticization. The "collapsing" of the map, as you suggest, is a great way of illustrating the boy's realization that there's nothing exotic, distant, or even different about the bazaar. His (disappointing) epiphany is that reality is often very different from the artificial labels that attempt deceptively to manipulate our perception.