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