“Araby” Route

Once again, this week’s featured place is a route rather than one fixed location. The video below shows the path the narrator of “Araby” takes all alone one night in hopes of finding something special to buy for Mangan’s sister.

He starts in the street where he lives, North Richmond Street, walks down Buckingham Street, gets on a train which passes through Westland Row Station, and disembarks at the bazaar. The location of Araby, according to Don Gifford, is just across the River Dodder. As with the “An Encounter” route, the narrator does not return home but is left at the end of the story on the south side of the Liffey and east side of the Dodder. As all the childhood stories begin north of the Liffey, the crossing of it becomes almost a rite of passage, a journey into adulthood whether the move be temporary or permanent. The epiphany the narrator experiences at the end, coupled with the lack of a return home, emphasizes the permanence of the step toward maturity he has made even if we assume that he does return home after the end of the story.

To view the route on the map is to observe the visual cues of the journey. Though the trip is only represented in one paragraph in the text, it becomes quite a trek when seen played out on the screen and when considered as a solo night journey by a young boy. It begins with a walk along the streets before evolving into a more fast-paced train ride. The route as projected in Google Earth offers a modern-day view of the landscape, complete with tunnels and stadiums, but it also raises questions about that landscape as it would have appeared to a young boy in the 1890s. Was there indeed a tunnel on the path of the train? If so, what does the tunnel add symbolically to the narrator’s journey from home to Araby, from childhood to adolescence? What other elements of the landscape help contribute to the story’s themes?

Author: Jasmine Mulliken

Jasmine Mulliken is Digital Production Associate at Stanford University Press. Prior to that she spent five years as Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Oklahoma State University. She has a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin and specializes in 20th-Century British Literature, Digital Humanities, and Digital Literacies.

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