Irony in Araby

James Joyce uses irony to highlight the naïveté of the young narrator. For example, when he finally leaves the house to go to the Araby bazaar, he has one florin in his pocket. However, by the time he has paid for his train ticket and entrance fee, he doesn’t have enough to buy a gift, even if he had found one.

Irony Examples in Araby:

Araby 2

"I allowed the two pennies to fall against the sixpence in my pocket..."   (Araby)

The boy began with a florin, valued at two shillings or 24 pence. After his roundtrip train ticket and the unnecessary spending of a shilling at the entrance, he has two pennies and a sixpence, in total valued at eight pence. This small sum proves ironic in that he is left with not enough to purchase a gift, even if one were available.

"which I myself did not understand..."   (Araby)

Note the religious terms the boy uses when thinking about Mangan's sister: "litanies," "chalice," "adoration," etc. While the narrator professes to not understand certain things, readers have a deeper understanding of the significance of these religious undertones and the situation in which the boy finds himself: he is struggling with his conceptions of romantic and religious love.