James Joyce examining the importance of depth in a setting

My story “Araby” is a great example of how Ireland and its unique culture manifested itself so deep in my literature despite spending most of my adult life in self-imposed exile from my native land. While this presence of Ireland continues throughout my works it doesn’t limit the perspective from which I write but rather it strengthens my perspective. This story “Araby” comes from my work Dubliners, a set of descriptive tales centered in the city, By using embedding my writing in the culture I’m free to view the society on multiple levels of religion, politics, and tradition’s effect on common Dublin life. In ensuing works I pushed the limits of conventional narrative and plot structure with dense writings like Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. I feel that it’s an interesting point that one can interpret a setting on so many different levels rather than simply as a location. Culture can shape plot, even the dialect and patois of the work, an effect that I felt gave my writing a honest view of people while delving deep into psyches and passions.

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About Alex Mueller

Alex Mueller can be found running and cycling the streets and suburbs of Boston, taking long sojourns in rare book archives whenever he can. He teaches English at UMass Boston, serves as Book Review Editor for Arthuriana, and writes about digital pedagogy, open access publishing, and medieval literature.

4 thoughts on “James Joyce examining the importance of depth in a setting

  1. Your story certainly describes a unique culture. The savage heathens which have landed on the shores of our blessed nation from those parts in the past were so very strange. Dirty, non-believers as I recall were the most of the sort which came before you. Many could barely be understood with a rough and raucous dialogue; it was painful to hear!How is is that you know of this "Araby"? Have you travelled to places such as where this tradition comes from? It is not good for a man to dabble in the affairs of those dark Indians… I pity your humble beginnings and pray that in time you will rise above this ill fate. If you work hard and seek counsel for your soul, in time you may even be made a proper gentleman. Your past must haunt you my son. Do not dwell upon the darkness of that sad land. Look instead to the future and hold to the hope of joining a proper society. Seek the guidance of a civil Engishman who can educate your manners and your language to find accpetance in our great land. In the meantime you may do well to write under some psuedonym to disguise your connection to this land as any other than one acquired in passing….

  2. I must admit, I have not read any of your work. But I am altogether unimpressed by this short story you have presented to us. First, there is a line between precocious and too self aware, and you have made this boy to be the latter. A boy of his age, while knowledgeable of religious and cultural rituals and items, would not have spoken in this way. Perhaps you wrote him to sound like an adult on purpose, being elevated above the adults that do appear in the story. And no boy would have "realized" that he had committed the sin of vanity simply because he went to the bazaar to impress a girl and failed to buy anything because of cat-held tongue.Second, nothing really happened in this story. It read as that all too familiar story although I had never read it before. I understand that when it was written, this may not have been the case for readers, but the test of a classic story is "does it stand the test of time?" If we as readers in this era cannot appreciate it, is it worthy of the title?I will say that I liked the element of making the setting the story. That the buildings peered at each other, the bazaar was the life that had been extinguished for the night, and the weather created the mood were wonderful elements. In six months, I may not remember this story or the characters, but the images of the world you painted will still be there. I congratulate you on that point, my good sir.

  3. I can understand your work the same way as which you do, James Joyce, for I am one of the few who can interpret the lives of others simply by being interested in the way another soul may be living about their own ways. I do not limit myself to the social thought of the majority, and I can easily see where you get your passion from. The way that you describe the setting can easily place my compassionate feelings right into the city of Dublin, into the mind-set of a young man still determining his sexual identity. Even though your setting may take place in Ireland, anyone can relate to the feelings of young lust for another, innocent and curious.

  4. In John Updike’s “Araby”, a fictionalized autobiography made me think of James Joyce’s “A&P”, they are alike young men claim to be in love. I feel that the boy in “Araby” is really in love even though he narrator, now a grown man, recalls how foolish he was and pokes fun at himself. But I think that maybe Updike’s character does not see that his blindness may have contributed to his love.1.) The girls they love2.) What they are willing to do to get the girl3.) Their realizationsBecause the Narrator decided to quit his job, the world for Sammy would be harder. He had just quit his job and that equaled no more money. His parents know the owner of the A&P grocery store where Sammy had worked, he is a family friend, thus making things awkward. Most of all, Sammy has given up the chance to interact with Queenie and the other pretty girls. Sammy seems like a very shy kid. So, getting the chance to talk with girls does not happen often. Maybe he knows his world will never be the same because now that he has quit, perhaps his first job, he has officially begun the grownup process of quitting a job, searching for another job, etc. It is a world of more denial and of people who have more experience telling you what to do. Sammy also realized that some people, just because of their personality have an easier time dealing with people, talking to people and he is not confident enough yet to be one of those people.

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