O’Connor on James Joyce~Araby

O’Connor describes Joyce’s short story writing style as pictorial comparing his stories to “a beautifully illustrated book.”  I agree with O’Connor’s description of Joyce’s style because Araby paints a picture in the reader’s mind without the need of illustration.

Araby is a short story compared to others we have read for this class, but it does not leave one questioning the characters or setting.  The first paragraph opens with the description of the street the characters live on.  It is a dead-end street but Joyce makes the street much more with his description, “…being blind, was a quiet street except at the hour when the Christian Brothers’ School set the boys free.”  His writing brings the houses to life giving them abilities not usually attributed to inanimate objects.  The houses “…gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces” painting a somber picture of brownstones lining a quiet street.

O’Connor also comments that Joyce creates a “hypnotic effect” in his writing.  I also found such an effect in Araby.  “The light from the lamp opposite our door caught the white curve of her neck, lit up her hair that rested there and falling, lit up the hand upon the railing.”  This sentence has a rhythm to it that is distinguishable and could be lyrics to a song.  He repeats words or uses a different form of a word such as light and lit to create a pattern unique to his style of work.

Joyce also writes multiple adjectives without the use of punctuation.  This was noticeable to me prior to reading O’Connor’s review of Joyce’s writing style.  I particularly appreciated his description of the gardens and horse stables.  A garden and horse stable have little in common but one word-dark-pulls them together in the sentence.  “…the dark dripping gardens…to the dark odorous stables…”  Joyce uses no punctuation and repeats words describing two unlike places.  And it works beautifully.

Joyce’s use of simile also presents an image a reader “can accept or reject but can’t modify to suit one’s own mood or environment” as O’Connor points out.  Two sentences that did indeed illustrate the boy’s embarrassment with having a crush on the neighbor can be visualized in “…yet her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood” and carries an impact that a simple statement such as, “her name makes me blush” cannot do.  The same is true with “But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires.”  The mental image these sentences create give understanding to his deep feelings for this young lady.

It is this unique, hypnotic effect throughout Araby that confirms O’Connor’s pictorial description of Joyce’s style of writing.  The sentence rhythm, form and word choices create a beautiful picture in the mind of a reader just as Joyce had intended.

Go ahead...take a swing. I'll duck and listen.

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