Analysis Pages

Tone in Araby

Joyce includes many words and phrases that help give “Araby” an at-times gloomy, at-times naively hopeful tone. The prevalence of the color brown, the condition of the garden, and the contrast between the glowing youth and the dark streets help to illustrate this.

Tone Examples in Araby:


🔒 6

"Westland Row Station..."   (Araby)

This train station in south Dublin is now known as the Dublin Pearse railway station. Notice how in this paragraph Joyce uses certain words to indicate the boy's making a special journey: "twinkling," "special," and "magical." This convey a sense of magic about the boy's quest and builds up our expectations as he arrives at the bazaar.

"like fingers running upon the wires..."   (Araby)

Joyce's choice of words in this sentence masterfully conveys the boy's confusion about love and sexuality. The language the boy uses here is overly sentimental and even a little ridiculous, and he even ruins the mood of the simile by incorrectly calling the harp strings "wires."

"we played till our bodies glowed..."   (Araby)

The boys' bodies glowing is an important image to contrast the dreary adjectives and descriptions Joyce puts into this paragraph. Toward the end of this passage, readers will notice that Joyce repeats the word "shadow" three times. This repetition, coupled with the other adjectives here, portray the people of Dublin as ghosts. However, since the boys "played till [their] bodies glowed," readers know that they are still alive; their youth and souls haven't yet been claimed by the dreariness of Dublin.

"had grown sombre..."   (Araby)

In this third paragraph, Joyce shows us the dreariness of Dublin by using increasingly darker and dreadful adjectives to describe the setting: "sombre houses," "feeble lanterns," "silent street," "dark muddy lanes," "dark dripping gardens," etc.

"musty..."   (Araby)

Many of Joyce's adjectives in "Araby" create a drab and dull atmosphere. This technique is not subtle, and we can see here that choices like "musty," "waste," and "useless" all convey the lifelessness that surrounds the boy and pervades the neighborhood.

"brown..."   (Araby)

"Araby" is one of the stories in Dubliners, and Joyce uses the color brown frequently throughout these stories. The color here creates a discouraging and hopeless kind of mood for the story.

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