Araby and The Narrators "Promised Land"
Araby symbolizes the beauty, mystery, and romance the narrator longs for in his life. He lives in a dreary house on a shabby dead-end street. He escapes this by reading a Sir Walter Scott romance and a book of French adventures and by dreaming. When he hears the name "Araby," he says, "The syllables of the word Araby . . . cast an Eastern enchantment over me." His first-love obsession with Mangan's sister melds with his vision of Araby when she speaks to him of the bazaar. He's off on a knight's romantic quest to bring her a gift from the enchanted land, only to have his dreams crushed under the weight of reality.
Araby represents some sort of "promise land" to him, but it turns out to be just another bazaar. He's trying to win the heart of a girl, but he realizes in those last moments how silly and stupid it all was and that he'd never win her heart.
North Richmond Street and Blindness
The location of the boy's house, in a "blind" street could symbolize the boy's nature at the beginning of the story, compared with his character at the end of the story.
At the beginning of the story the narrator views himself as a kind of religious hero and confuses Mangan's sister with the Virgin Mary. Religion and infatuation are confused and he is unable to discern the difference between religion and his secular life.
At the end of the story the boy "sees", and ends his "blinded" state. He realises that Araby, although it sounds so exotic is nothing more than a church-sponsored bazaar selling trinkets. He likewise understands that Mangan's sister is just a girl and that he is just a boy. The end of the story captures this moment of epiphany and help us to see that the narrator is "blind" no longer
The narrator is first frustrated by his infatuation with Mangan's sister, as any teenager might be. He likes her and is somewhat obsessed with her, but can't really get close to her or get to know her. Then when he finally gets a chance to cement a connection with her by getting her a gift from the bazaar, he's frustrated by having to wait for the day to arrive when he can go, and by his uncle returning home late to give him his spending money.
Once at the bazaar, he is then disillusioned by the appearance of the bazaar, the useless, trivial flirting of the three workers he overhears, and, apparently, by the items available for purchase.
He experiences an epiphany, then, when he realizes how trivial he has been during the course of his infatuation. Buying Mangan's sister a gift from Araby does not merit his total obsessiveness, which led him to neglect everything else.
Epiphany and Loss of Innocence
At the end of the story, the boy overhears a trite conversation between an English girl working at the bazaar and two young men, and he suddenly realizes that he has been confusing things. It dawns on him that the bazaar, which he thought would be so exotic and exciting, is really only a commercialized place to buy things. Furthermore, he now realizes that Mangan's sister is just a girl who will not care whether he fulfills his promise to buy her something at the bazaar. His conversation with Mangan's sister, during which he promised he would buy her something, was really only small talk—as meaningless as the one between the English girl and her companions.
He leaves Araby feeling ashamed and upset. This epiphany signals a change in the narrator—from an innocent, idealistic boy to an adolescent dealing with the harsh realities of life.