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Dubliners Araby Summary

  • Surprise, surprise, dear readers. The events of "Araby," the real narrative action, the meat and potatoes of this pretty short, pretty jam-packed little story, aren't your typical action movie twists and turns. Most of what happens, happens inside the narrator's (pretty amazing, if you ask us) mind. Here goes.
  • The narrator lives with his aunt and uncle on a short street in a house where a priest has died. Wait. Haven't we heard this before?
  • While he plays with his friends in the streets and backyards on the neighborhood like any other kid, he develops a crush on the girl across the street, the older sister of one of his playmates. Crush doesn't really cover it, though. This kid is smitten. 
  • For example, every morning before school, he waits by the window to see when she leaves the house. Then he follows her to school, walking right behind her until she turns off to go to her school. Right then, he passes her so that she'll see him. 
  • But let's not pretend that he's really all that bold. He never even speaks to her. Instead, as his crush gets more and more intense, he has intense daydreams and gets really emotional all the time, full of "confused adoration" (Araby.5). Stalker much?
  • One fine day, she finally speaks to him. She can't go to "Araby," a "splendid" bazaar, (it's a fancy name for a market), but she says he should go. Hint hint. (Araby.7). 
  • Don't worry, he catches her drift: "I'll totally buy you a present from Araby!"
  • Which is great, except that now he has to wait for this trip to Araby to actually, you know, happen. He obsesses, can't concentrate on his schoolwork, and keeps reminding his uncle that he wants to go. 
  • It's the big day, and it starts off badly. His uncle stands in the way of his usual morning stalker ritual, and he gets a bad feeling about the whole plan: "Already my heart misgave me," he tells us (Araby.15).
  • And it gets worse. His stupid uncle forgets that it's the big day, and when he gets home late from work and takes too long to hang up his coat, the narrator "could interpret these signs." He went to the bars and had a little too much to drink. Ugh. Not good.
  • The train to Araby is still running, so he heads out with a little bit of money, but by the time he gets there almost everything is closed. So not good.
  • A bratty cashier at one of the open stalls keeps an eye on him as he tries to find something he can bring back for his girl. But she's not any help, and only wants to talk to the men at the bazaar. 
  • The lights go out and the party's over, and he hasn't bought anything. 
  • He's angry and ashamed.

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