James Joyce's short story "Araby" and Jonathan Swift's essay "A Modest Proposal" are substantively different in both tone and subject matter, and yet there is an important link between the two. In each work, the author relates a voyage of disillusionment, in each tale he presents us with a story of despair.
Joyce's story, which appears in his collection The Dubliners and which is even more powerful when read in the context of the other stories in that collection, is the story of how a boy learns that love (like many things in life) is rarely as good as it promises to be. In the story, the boy begins each day by lying on his parlor floor so that he can peer out through a crack and catch a glimpse of the girl next door as she leaves her house to walk to work.
He is, of course, hopeless enamored of her, and prays -perhaps to her, perhaps to God, perhaps merely to the universe at large - that one day she will recognize his love. And indeed, one day she seems to, asking him if he intending to go to "Araby" - to a bazaar that for the sheltered, love-stricken boy represents all of the marvelous things that he does not have and can barely imagine. His dreams are full of the girl and of the bazaar, which in his mind and in his nanvetT is a mTlange of the Christian rites with which he is familiar and an Eastern world that he can just barely imagine. He imagines himself transported to the bazaar with the girl: "These noises converged in a single sensation of life for me: I imagined that I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes." He is in his dreams a hero. And perhaps even more importantly, he is no longer alone. He is loved and cherished in a way that he does not feel that he has ever been by the adults in his life.
The first half of the story is the build-up of the boy's hopes, his imaginings of what it will be like to be in love and to be loved and to have a life that is more interesting and more important (and less bounded)...