In "Araby", James Joyce depicted a story of a boy who was infatuated with his friend's sister and promised to get her a gift but was later disillusioned when he couldn't keep the promise. Further analysis suggests that this is a story about unhappiness in the life of a boy in Dublin during the turn of the century. We can see this in the scenes and the events that the narrator described. The first sentence in the story described the street that he lives in as being "blind". Blind is associated with darkness. This symbolizes unhappiness. Other incidents suggest that greed may have affected him negatively. Greed can be inferred from the money the priests accumulated, and the pawnbroker's widow who "collected used stamps for pious purposes". A pawnbroker is suppose to be rich, why couldn't she donate some of her money left by her husband instead of used stamps? The author also mentioned other hopeless scenes in the drunken uncle, who is feared by him and a joyless street "jostled with drunken men and bargaining women". The climax began when the girl asked him if he was going to Araby. She couldn't go because of a "retreat in her convent". He promised to "bring her something". This event can potentially illuminate his life amidst the darkness that surrounds him. However, two events led to his breaking his promise to her as we shall see in the next paragraph.
On the day he was suppose to go to Araby, his uncle who promised to give him money for Araby, came home late and drunk. We can deduce that he is drunk because he was "talking to himself". Because of this, he was late for Araby. When he arrived, he had to take a more expensive entrance because he was late. Upon entering, he went to a vase stall and was treated rudely by an English sales clerk. English has a disdain for Irish. This may have discouraged him from purchasing the gift that he promised to bring. Another possibility is that the porcelain vase and tea set are not suitable for girls and most of the stalls are closed and so he couldn't buy a suitable gift.