Throughout literary works, setting has been a tool to deliver information about the lifestyle and the background of the characters that inhabit it. When an author can create this sort of effect the setting ceases to be merely a place and a time but exists as if an additional character in the story. One who has no dialogue but says more than most others. In his short story "Araby," James Joyce has recreated a desolate and impoverished neighborhood in Ireland during one of the darkest chapters of that nation's recent history. The reader gains an understanding of the lifestyle of the main character, a young boy, as Joyce details where he lives, plays, and visits through the story. The street on which the boy lives has the most detailed description and conveys the unpretentious lives of its lower class inhabitants; while the large house that dominates the end of the street serves as an indication of the division of the upper classes from those lower; and the bazaar that the boy visits is the most poignant in its indication of the boy's loss of innocence as he finally realizes the magnitude of his position in Ireland's class structure.
North Richmond Street, being home to the boy, gives the impression of the lower class residents" simplified lifestyle. One in which hard work is valued and life is a product of that work without any of the luxuries that are associated with the upper classes. Houses on the street are described as "[gazing] at one another with brown, imperturbable faces" (936) indicating a lack of extravagance in their presentation. The houses were simple and did not include anything that was not needed, such as additional rooms superfluous to the daily life of the inhabitants. The likes of libraries, studies, or drawing rooms that could be found in a home of someone in the upper classes were not present. Joyce accentuates this point by writing the boy retreating to the drawing room of the large house, previously owned by a member of the upper class and now uninhabited, dominating the end of the street.