Every morning I lay on the floor in the front parlor watching her door. The blind was pulled down to within an inch of the sash so that I could not be seen. When she came out on the doorstep my heart leaped. I ran to the hall, seized my books and followed her. I kept her brown figure always in my eye and, when we came near the point at which our ways diverged, I quickened my pace and passed her. This happened morning after morning. I had never spoken to her except for a few casual words[.]
The “Araby” narrator has a crush on his friend’s sister, who also happens to be his neighbor. However, despite being intensely aware of her, they barely interact, even when the opportunity presents itself, as in the scene described here. The narrator experiences intense feelings for the girl without any basis in real knowledge about her. He does not even share with the reader his assumptions about her personality, if he has any.
My eyes were often full of tears (I could not tell why) and at times a flood from my heart seemed to pour itself out into my bosom. I thought little of the future. I did not know whether I would ever speak to her or not or, if I spoke to her how I would tell her of my confused adoration. But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running down the wires.
The “Araby” narrator’s crush on the girl next door produces intense feelings that manifest in physical form. Part of the tension comes from the lack of actual communication between him and girl. The narrator cannot imagine where the crush may lead, because so far the relationship takes place in his head only. As long as he keeps his feelings secret, the illusion of a love affair can safely continue. If he exposes his feelings, she might reject him.
What innumerable follies laid waste my waking and sleeping thoughts after that evening! I wished to annihilate the tedious intervening days. I chafed against the work of school. At night in my bedroom and by day in the classroom her image came between me and the page I strove to read. The syllables of the word
Arabywere called to me through the silence in which my soul luxuriated and cast an Eastern enchantment over me.
The woman for whom the “Araby” narrator has intense feelings tells him about a bazaar called Araby that she wishes she could go to but can’t. He casually says he will get her something there if he goes. This conversation makes him feel that he must go to the bazaar and get her a gift. Here, he rationalizes, without much evidence, that getting the girl a gift from Araby will signal his worthiness and make her care for him.
I was staring at the clock for some time and, when its ticking began to irritate me, I left the room. I mounted the staircase and gained the upper part of the house. The high cold empty gloomy rooms liberated me and I went from room to room singing. From the front window I saw my companions playing below in the street. Their cries reached me weakened and indistinct and, leaning my forehead against the cool glass, I looked over at the dark house where she lived. I may have stood there for an hour[.]
The “Araby” narrator describes waiting for his uncle to come home and give him money so he can go to the bazaar and buy the woman on whom he has a crush a present. In his anxiety to go, he wanders his house. He looks out the window on his friends, but the thought to join them never occurs to him. His sense of having a mission makes him feel separate from others. He feels held in suspense.
I lingered before her stall, though I knew my stay was useless, to make my interest in her wares seem the more real. Then I turned away slowly and walked down the middle of the bazaar . . . I heard a voice call from one end of the gallery that the light was out . . . The upper part of the hall was now completely dark. Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.
The “Araby” narrator arrives at the bazaar to purchase a gift for his secret crush at closing time. When he attempts to choose among the few items still for sale, his indecision stymies him. Here, he explains how he feels when, soon after arriving at the bazaar, he recognizes that purchasing a gift would expose his fantasy to reality. His fears hit him: The gift will not be worthy, or the girl will not understand the gift’s significance. The long-anticipated quest remains incomplete.