“Arab” is a short complex story by Joyce that I believe is a reflection of his own life as a boy growing up. The story focuses on escape and fantasy; about darkness, despair, and enlightenment: and its constant struggle between ideals and reality I believe Arab employs many themes; the two most apparent to me are escape and fantasy though I see signs of religion and a boy’s first love. Arab Is an attempt by the boy to escape the bleak darkness of North Richmond Street. A recurrent theme of darkness eaves Itself through the friend Mange’s sister who obliviously Is his first love.
Arab Is about escaping Into the world of fantasy. She Is the light In his fantasy, someone who will lift him out of darkness. The boy sees the bazaar at Arab as an opportunity to win her over, as a way to light the candle In her eyes. However, the boy Is more awkward then shy, and the lost for words to speak. He Is driven by desires and struggling with the lack of experience to get through the moment. He fantasize about her, how bringing her a gift from the bazaar will capture her heart.
He has promised her a gift and he anguishes over his uncles late return home and his forgetfulness. Nevertheless, he is undeterred and catches an empty train to reality. The young lady at the booth ignores him while she flirts with the men. When she finally approaches, he freezes in stare, by his awkwardness. As the woman turns and walks away, he realizes the opportunity of winning his friends sister through gift has slipped away. In the end, anguish burns in his eyes as the cold grip of reality takes hold of him as he fumbles with the coins in his pocket.