In James Joyce's short story "Araby" he describes his childhood growing up on North Richmond Street. The central idea of the story is his strange obsession for one of his friend's sister and his task at hand to fulfill a promise he made to her, hoping to win her over. The promise that is made is that he will bring Mangan's sister a present from Araby, a bazaar. The young boy faces many conflicts throughout the story such as pleasing his secret obsession, making it to the bazaar, and mainly proving himself ready for the adult world.
The narrator describes how he used see Mangan's sister when she called him in for the night. One day she approaches him and asks if he is going to the bazaar, she cannot go because she has retreat that night with her convent school. He tells her that if he goes he will bring her something back. This torments the young boy all night as he thinks of the possibilities that could happen with a successful trip to Araby. He is granted permission from his aunt and uncle, however; his uncle comes home late on the day of the bazaar making it hard for the boy to get to Araby before it closed. When he finally arrives he discovers it is to late to buy anything. The narrator feels extremely angry, and frustrated at his uncle and other things which are out of his control. Realizing he is still to young to pursue Mangan's sister into the adult world he returns home.
Araby represents the young boy's freedom, independence, and introduction into the real world. The narrator believes upon arrival to Araby will mean he has earned his right into adulthood, but he is painfully disappointed by his late arrival and his treatment while there. The external appearance of not being able to keep his promise to Mangan's sister is overshadowed by his internal rejection into his new sought freedom. Much like his obsession for Mangan's sister for which he can do nothing as she sees him as young boy beneath her.