James Joyce's "Araby" demonstrates a person's need for happiness. Wanting to escape from his world of disappointment and despair, the narrator fantasizes Mangan's sister. This dream world is the narrator's desperate attempt to survive the dismal atmosphere that surrounds him. By denying the negativity of reality and the hardships of adolescence, he focuses on a dream world filled with pure happiness.
Despair surrounds the narrator's life. A good example of this is when death makes an appearance at the beginning of the story and we are told about a former tenant who died before they became tenants. This seems to fit the somber atmosphere that surrounds the narrator where not even play brings pleasure: .
The cold air stung us and we played till our bodies glowed. Our shouts .
echoed in the silent street. The career of our play brought us through .
the dark muddy lanes behind the cottages, to the back doors of the dark .
dripping gardens where odours arose from the ashpits, to the dark .
odorous stables . . . (Joyce 295). .
The narrator's sensual description depicting the atmosphere around him illustrates his romantic outlook on life. Even though he lives in a bleak world, the narrator portrays the darkness in a poetic manner.
As a result of such displeasure, the narrator tries to escape this harsh reality by building an infatuation with Mangan's sister. She becomes the narrator's dream-object as he envisions her every move: "Her dress swung as .
she moved her body and the soft rope of her hair tossed from side to side" (Joyce 295). His infatuation develops further as he constantly thinks of Mangan's sister: "Her image accompanied me even in places the most hostile to romance" (Joyce 296). Even when he goes with his aunt to the market, the narrator begins to live in this fantasy world. He imagines himself as a hero, carrying a sacred chalice to his princess. This fairy tale way of thinking perpetuates his desire to rescue his obsession and protect her from the evils of the world.