Stacey Johnston: James Joyce Short Stories Analysis

The common theme of these two stories is that life can be tedious and can taint the priorities of a person. The main characters in both stories have very structured schedules each day that prevent them from enjoying spontaneity. A major downfall of their singularity is their frustration with minute details and flaws in their lives. Maria broke into tears upon realizing that she left a plum cake on the tram. The narrator in “Araby” could not enjoy his days because he was too preoccupied in thinking about the bazaar. These examples of emotional discomfort over seemingly insignificant events prove just how monotonous their lives truly are. The characters exhibit similar traits, which can be analyzed in their walking routes. Just as Maria in “Clay” allots certain amounts of time for her shopping ventures, the narrator in “Araby” perfectly times his morning commute to school so that he can pass by the girl he likes (Mangum’s sister). Both characters are focusing less on their actual desires (to shop and to flirt), as they focus more on having control over each detail in their simple lives.

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4 thoughts on “Stacey Johnston: James Joyce Short Stories Analysis

  1. I definitely got the same feeling when it came to their lack of focus on what they truly desire, and more so on the things that they can control, and are more so insignificant. I feel like in this way, is where the similarity really hit home for me. It was less of the similarities as individuals, and mainly just their likeness as a state of mind. The state of mind in which they were living seems so dull and distant from what they really would like to be doing, and it leads them to be more so disappointed throughout.

  2. I agree that they both had similar state of minds. Overall the characters had a negative mindset and focused more on the the little things than their goals. Each character wanted to feel in control of situations that could not really be controlled. I liked how you used the example of the boy timing his commute to school so he could see the girl he liked because it perfectly shows that he wants to control when he gets to see the girl instead of just seeing her at any point throughout the day.

  3. Totally in agreement and while reading these stories, and your thoughts, I could not help but relate it to my own life. I think that as people we can get caught up in the small details of what would make the day go how we want it and then the day becomes lost in the process of overthinking. The thought also came to mind that this could sometimes be the reasoning for having a bad day. The mind process of focusing on how events should be playing out and not taking the time to accept and appreciate the individual feelings that the person can have throughout the day. We can make something so simple get completely lost in spending too much time on the little details of life.

  4. I definitely agree with all of you. Sometimes we get so caught up in our daily routines that we don’t pay attention to certain things that could potentially change our life. While reading these stories I could easily relate to the characters, especially to Maria. She wanted to have everything under control and organized which is what I personally tend to do. We spend most of our time focusing on small details in order to avoid bigger problems which is not a “healthy” way of living. In “Araby” the character lost the chance for love because his mind was too busy worrying about schoolwork, the Dublin trains and his uncle’s lateness. As it was stated in one of the previous comments, both of the characters did not have a positive mindset which prevented them to reach true happiness.

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