In "Araby," James Joyce explores a theme of romantic disillusion. It is the story of first love; a display of what defies the ideal and dream of first love. The boy's thoughts and feelings portray that of a helpless victim, which most adolescence experience. Joyce develops his theme of romantic disillusion through a young boy who is innocent, idealistic, and disenchanted. .
To begin, Joyce portrays the boy's innocence through the manner in which he perceives Managan's sister. For example, though the two rarely ever exchange words, he describes that "her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood" (255). His shy and childish ways aid in his perception of her, as she is the lightness in his dark world. "I looked over at the dark house where she lived," with my imagination, "seeing nothing but her brown clad figure, touched discreetly by lamplight." His image of her is that of a spiritual being surrounded by holy light, "her figure defined by the light of the half opened door" (255). Her image surrounds him in even the most inappropriate places. "Even in places the most hostile to romance," "through the flaring streets, jostled by drunken men and bargaining women" (256). Although the boy is intrigued by Mangan's sister, his feelings are that of his innocent childhood stage he is in.
Furthermore, Joyce depicts the boy's idealism in the way he romanticizes his relationship with the young girl. He yearns for the day she will speak to him. In the moment that Managan's sister converses with the boy, he "was so confused that I did not know what to answer," (256). At that moment, the boy enters an ideal romantic relationship with the girl, although it only exists in his mind. The boy can think of nothing but going to Araby and returning with a gift for her, "at night in my bedroom and by day in the classroom her image came between me and the page," (256). The boys disillusion of his romantic involvement with the girl is taking him a step away from childhood and towards that of adulthood.