Personification in Araby

Generally, Joyce uses personification to better inform us about how the main character relates to his environment throughout the story. The story opens with an example of personification, when Joyce describes the houses as “conscious” of their occupants and “gazing” down upon the street. This use of personification immediately establishes a strong sense of place, and by personifying the houses Joyce can then use them as a contrast to the relative lifelessness of the residents.

Personification Examples in Araby:

Araby 2

"All my senses seemed to desire..."   (Araby)

Notice how the boy personifies his senses by saying that they are the ones who have the desire instead of him. This strategy gives readers the impression that the boy is trying to separate his mind from his body in order to understand his confusion.

"conscious of decent lives within them..."   (Araby)

In establishing the setting in this first paragraph, Joyce presents the street as a representation of the Irish soul, uninhabited and detached. He personifies the houses here, making them more conscious and arguably more alive than the residents.