The Religious Undertones in James Joyce's Araby

Topics: Dubliners, Roman Catholic Church, Joseph Campbell Pages: 2 (819 words) Published: October 17, 2006
James Joyce uses religious references throughout Araby to express his resentment towards the Catholic Church, and Catholicism as a whole. The story revolves around religious symbolism and a boy's intnse desire for a girl. Joyce's reasons for rejecting the Catholic Church are unknown, but in many scenes his attitude towards religious hypocrisy becomes clearer. The introduction to Araby sets the religious tones, which flow through a neighborhood, dark and full of desire. The story opens on "a quiet street, except at the hour when the Christian Brothers' School set the boys free". The example given is a reflection of long days oppressed by the church, which only come to and end when the boys are set free. In the story there is a room where a previous tenant, a priest, died. Joyce's resentment toward religious literature is shown in the passage, "the waste room... was littered with old useless papers. In writing the "waste" room and referring to the papers as "useless," the value Joyce assigns the readings of a priest becomes clear. Joyce describes the environment as dispirited and uneventful. "The space of sky above us was the color of ever-changing violet, and towards it the lamps of the street lifted their feeble lanterns". Joyce uses symbolism of "light" to represent religion, which protects us from "darkness." A connection can be drawn between Joyce's lack of effort towards religion and the feeble attempt of the lamps to lift their lights skyward.

The relationship with the girl in the story talks on a religious quality. "Her name sprang to my lips at moments in strange prayers and praises which I myself did not understand". Joyce clearly outlines the lack of understanding he has for the invocations of the Catholic Church. They too are "strange to his lips," as though he has not spoken them with cynicism. Joyce's character is obsessed with this girl. She is seen outside her house as the light from the half-open...

Cited: Roberts,Edgar and Henry Jacobs. Literature An Introduction to Reading and Writing Compact Edition.
New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1998
Valente, Francesca. "Joyce 's Dubliners As Epiphanies." Updated 25 Jan 1999 <
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