Araby Essay Prompts

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If your students are learning about short fiction or modernism, ~'Araby~' is a wonderful story for them to try. This lesson offers some prompts that will help students write meaningful essays about the text.

Teaching Araby

If your students are reading Araby by James Joyce, they have an opportunity to learn more about modernism in literature and to engage with some important themes. Araby lets students think about the nature of love and obsession. It also familiarizes readers with some of the stylistic elements of modernism and the complexities of Joyce's style.

To help your students get more out of their reading of Araby, you might want to have them write essays about the story. When students write essays, they have to establish a clear argument and then back the premise with strong, supportive textual evidence. Writing essays also helps students gain familiarity and facility with the writing process overall.

The prompts in this lesson are designed to get your students thinking deeply and critically as they write about Araby.

Prompts About Characters

Here, you will find essay prompts related to analysis of the major characters in Joyce's story.

  • Write an essay describing at least three different personality characteristics of the narrator of Araby. For each characteristic that you name, provide evidence from the story to show that he possesses this characteristic. You might also analyze how having this trait influences the way he lives his life.
  • How does the narrator change and evolve over the course of the story, and what are some of the ways he remains the same? Be as specific as you can in describing these changes, providing evidence to back your assertions.
  • What do you know about Mangan's sister and the kind of person she is? As you write, analyze her major personality features as well as what draws the narrator to her so intensely. Consider, also, why we never learn her given name.
  • How are the narrator and Mangan's sister similar to each other, and in what ways are they different? In your essay, try to interpret how their similarities as well as their differences inform the relationship as it unfolds.
  • Describe the significance of the uncle in the story overall. Explain who he is, what he is like, and why he ends up being such an important character in the story.
  • How would you describe the narrator's love for Mangan's sister? How is this love both like and unlike other literary representations of love you have seen?

Prompts About Plot

These prompts will help your students untangle and interpret the meaningful aspects of Araby's plot.

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