Love at a young age is just an obsession. As children, our first relationships are object relationships. The people we like aren’t people; they are objects of our obsession, and our obsessions are driven by vanity and narcissism. We are obsessed with what we consider an ideal, something we create. The main character in the short story “Araby” by James Joyce is a young boy that looks at every event in his life through narcissistic eyes.
He thinks he is in love with a girl, but in reality, he is obsessed by his thoughts and his ideal. In the story, the boy lives in a home that once belonged to a priest that passed away. While looking around the house, the protagonist notices a few books, ” .. the pages of which were curled and damp: The Abbot, by Walter Scott, The Devout Communicant, and The Memoirs of Vidocq. I liked the last because it’s leaves were yellow.” This shows the reader how the boy is driven by vanity.
He isn’t concerned at all about the contents of the books, but instead by what the books looked liked. Because of our hero’s youthful narcissism, his idea of beauty determines what he likes. The boy never mentions his own name, or that of the girl. It’s as if her name isn’t even important, and that she is just the object of his obsession. Our hero just refers to the girl as Managan’s sister.
He has created an ideal and is in love with his fantasy, not the actual girl. In every instance our hero sees the girl, ” .. her figure .. ” is “defined by the light .. ” This is a perfect example of how the boy is preoccupied with his own idea of beauty. Managan’s sister is the center of our hero’s every thought.
He thinks about her and obsesses over her constantly, no matter where he is or what he does. He is not concerned about who the girl is, but rather is image of her. The protagonist says, “Her image accompanied me even in places the most hostile to romance.” He then describes an unusual place to think of her, yet the boy is still surrounded by her image while he is there. He even finds himself “praising her” as if she is some sort of God. The protagonist was in love with something he created; his ideal English Essays.