Date of Award

Spring 6-8-2018

Document Type

Honors Project

University Scholars Director

Dr. Christine Chaney

First Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Doug Thorpe

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Jon Thorpe


James Joyce, Araby, Dublin, paralysis, symbol


Critics, scholars, and readers commonly use paralysis as a means of interpreting James Joyce’s Dubliners. However, paralysis is ambiguously defined and can have a vague connection to the actual stories. This paper puts forward an interpretation of paralysis, that paralysis is a failed attempt at filling spiritual absence with presence. In order to examine our definition more fully, we then explore occurrences of absence and presence in James Joyce’s “Araby.” “Araby” depicts absence as a decaying, draining, and oppressive home existence, and it finds presence in romantic or mythic symbol. The illusory, nonexistent, and insufficient nature of these symbols results in a failed fulfillment of absence, and the story’s protagonist concludes the story feeling disillusioned and angry. We conclude by debating the implications of paralysis in the story and briefly considering where its questions recur both throughout Dubliners and throughout the rest of Joyce’s fiction.


A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Scholars Program