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Religous Symbolism In ?Eveline? & ?Araby?
James Joyce (1882-1941) rejected his Irish-Catholic heritage and left his native
homeland at the age of twenty. Though he was ostracized most of his life, Joyce wrote
almost exclusively about his native Dublin. Although Joyce rejected his religion, he
relied on the use of religious symbols to make a point.
In ?Araby? and ?Eveline? Joyce uses religious symbols to show the importance of
the Catholic religion in both of the main characters? lives. Both of these stories take
place in Dublin, Ireland, a place that is very strong in its belief in the Catholic religion.
In ?Araby,? the imagery of the infamous ?Fall? is presented to the reader within the
second paragraph to indicate its importance. The themes of religious masses can be
found in ?Eveline.? The concept of the Catholic Ash Wednesday is presented throughout
The second paragraph of ?Araby? presents the idea of the Adam and Eve story
known as ?The Fall.? ?The wild garden behind the house contained a central apple tree
and a few straggling bushes under one of which I found the late tenant?s rusty bicycle
pump.? In the Catholic religion, the Adam and Eve story is thought to be the time when
sin became present in the world. It is the time in Catholicism when the innocent life that
Adam and Eve shared in the beautiful garden, violently changed into a life of
responsibility, pain, heartbreak, suffering, and most important in the Catholic religion,
separation from God. This transformation cannot only be seen in the story of Adam and
Eve, but in the change from the innocent life of a child to the turbulent life of an adult.
The latter change is the one that the main character of ?Araby? is going through. Joyce
is trying to show how important this theme was by repeating the word ?fall? throughout
Catholic religion plays an important role in the main character?s life, because the Catholic
religion gives specific standards for believers to follow. This religion, along with its
rules and regulations, is the one that the main character was raised by, and he feels
obligated to follow them, even through the very tough time of adolescence. In the story,
the boy becomes infatuated with a girl. This crush on Mangan?s sister is very tough on
the main character for many reasons. The first being that she does not share the love he
has for her, and secondly, his crush conflicts with his strict religion. He becomes
obsessed with her, watching her every move. The girl has taken over his every thought,
which is why the crush conflicts with the Catholic religion.
Catholicism is the worship of a single, all-powerful God. When Mangan?s sister
invades the young mind of the main character, he is no longer thinking about his religion,
instead, he is focused on the girl, which causes confusion about what is more desirable.
In ?Eveline? images of religious masses come up in the story. ?Through the wide
doors of the sheds she caught a glimpse of the black mass of the boat lying in beside the
quay wall, with illumined portholes.? The theme of religious masses is written into a
very important time of the main character?s life. Eveline is faced with the decision
whether or not to go with Frank to Buenos Aires. If she went, she would flee the
responsibilities of her family and be able to finally live in a land where she could be
carefree. Black mass is the traditional ceremony that witches will perform to invoke evil
spirits and mock the mass of the Catholic Church. Since the theme of the black mass is
used, it hints to the reader that maybe Eveline does not want to be held down by her
religion. By using the words ?black? and ?mass? together, Joyce not only indicates the
importance of Catholicism, but it shows the idea that Eveline is trying to break free from
the constrictive power of the church and religion.
Finally, the topic of Ash Wednesday is brought up in ?Araby? and ?Eveline.? Ash
Wednesday is one of the most important days in the Catholic religion. It is the day of
repentance in the Catholic Church, as well as the first day of lent. Lent is a time where a
Catholic follower is deprived from one of the most important things in
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Araby, Eveline, James Joyce, Ash Wednesday, Adam, araby james joyce, eveline joyce, native dublin, bicycle pump, story of adam and eve, adam and eve story, catholic heritage, catholic religion, adam and eve, dublin ireland, ash wednesday, native homeland, innocent life, turbulent life, apple tree, religious symbols, relig, beautiful garden, james joyce, heartbreak
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