The main character in the short story "Araby" by James Joyce is a young boy that looks through life with self-deceptive eyes. He thinks he is in love with a girl, but in reality all he has are his romantic thoughts and an unrealistic idolization. It is a story about self-deception - a young boy's realization that he has misled himself into thinking his love was pure and real, when in fact it was the opposite. Towards the end of his quest at Araby, he discovers the difference between his dream world and actuality, sending him a crushing blow of reality. The primary focus of the story revolves around a young boy who deciphers the difference between cruel reality and the fantasies of romance that play in his head. .
A good part of the story deals with the boy's infatuation with Mangan's sister. He has this great love for the girl, and yet he says he has never talked to her: "I had never spoken to her, except a few casual words, and yet her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood" (Joyce 477). The boy is extraordinary lovesick for a girl he knows so little about. He sums up his feelings for her perfectly when he says, "But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires" (Joyce 477). He is deceiving himself into thinking the love he has for her is real by failing to see that it is based on the dream world he created and the romantic novels he has read.
The boy's self-deception is also seen in the portrayal he has of the girl. In his mind he has transformed a perfectly ordinary girl into an enchanted angel of sorts: untouchable, promising, and sacred. To him, Mangan's sister is saintly; her name evokes in him "strange prayers and praises" (Joyce 477). He creates this ideal vision of her that is not true to reality: "The light from the lamp opposite our door caught the white curve of her neck, lit up her hair that rested there and, falling, lit up the hand upon the railing" (Joyce 478).