I chose to map the boy's route in "Araby." I was taken with this story and its foregrounding of preteen/teenage letdown. The boy dreams and acts with a kind of tunnelvision that I am also susceptible to, and mapping his route allowed me to even better understand his dedication. The journey to the bazaar seems daunting for a 12(ish)-year-old traveling alone, especially considering how localized the rest of his life is. I also came to see more clearly the prominence of the River Liffey in shaping the boy's route and Dublin in general. This might be a stretch, but I feel like a river running through a metropolis can lend that city some sense of peace, and perhaps it made the boy's route seem even more majestic and grave with purpose. The boy's disillusion struck me as distinctly urban (maybe I have read too many articles about New York bands and "urban ennui"), and the map made clear that he has grown up in the thick of the city. He's also close to Trinity, which I understand from Sally Rooney novels to have a high reputation and whose campus connotes knowledge and sophistication. I wonder if the boy is at once allured by the sights of the city on his journey and disturbed by them, or more accurately, disturbed by the constraints of time and money and familial problems that keep him from venturing out of his neighborhood. Also, to be too literal, the boy's (admittedly kind of maladaptive) dreams dissipate by the end of the story, and the map shows a north-south trajectory. "Araby" reminded me most of "Prufrock" despite the age and class differences between their protagonists because of this commonality of self-soothing through daydreaming. There's that switch in "Prufrock"--"And would it have been worth it, after all"--that signals his walking back from the intention to ask out this girl and cushioning that sense of paralysis with reasons why he's better off on his own. While the boy in "Araby" does make it to his destination, the bazaar is almost completely closed by the time of his arrival, and in the face of his grand ambition to buy his crush a gift being thwarted, he is left embarrassed by his vanity.
Submitted by Emma Willibey on Thu, 11/12/2020 - 15:55