After a close examination of the short story "Araby" by James Joyce, several instances of religious symbolism seem to be intertwined throughout the story. The story unfolds from the viewpoint of a young child while simultaneously raising moral questions representative of a much more mature Joyce. This enlightened perspective allows for some very intricate examples of symbolism. Although the symbolism can be observed on two very different levels, the primary goal of this essay shall be to explore the symbolism as seen through the eyes of Joyce as an adult. This symbolism is painted with religious overtones that evidently stem from Joyce's adolescence. Through the use of symbolism, James Joyce raises many questions concerning his childhood, while also telling the story of a young boy's journey from romance to despair and disillusionment brought about by a young girl's unintentional taunts. .
"Araby", in its simplest form is the story of a young boy's first experience concerning infatuation with the opposite sex. Although, lurking under this inconspicuous facade are questions that plagued Joyce throughout his life. These questions primarily concern Joyce's rearing in Catholicism and the beliefs the church encouraged in opposition to his true feelings. This moral dilemma is expressed through symbolism that occurs in several interactions between the story's central character and the world around him. In the opening line of the story, Joyce describes the street he lives on as "being blind"(Vesterman 7). This lack of sight indicates that the street is a dead end. He goes on to describe the houses occupying its sides as "gazed(ing) at one another with brown imperturbable faces"(Vesterman 7). These houses reflect the attitudes of their inhabitants, who seem satisfied and content with their lives. The unchanging people seem as though they are strictly catholic and extremely set in their ways. These people represent everything that the boy questions because, naturally, he is apprehensive in accepting completely the lifestyle that these people exhibit.