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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.64, No.3, 403 ~ 415, 2018
Failing the Game Quests in James Joyce’s “Araby”
Sungjin Jang
This paper suggests a different reading of James Joyce’s “Araby” by offering the video game as a lens through which we can reimagine the story. Understanding the unnamed boy’s journey to the Araby bazaar as a fetch quest, this paper focuses on the boy’s failure to complete this quest. As soon as the boy promises Mangan’s sister something from Araby, his fetch quest begins. In order to complete the quest, the boy must successfully perform three sub-quests: get money from his uncle as early as he can, get on the train for the Araby bazaar on time, and pass through the sixpenny entrance at the bazaar. However, because his uncle comes home late, the boy fails to get the money early, and that sets off the subsequent failures. The boy then takes the train late and arrives at the bazaar so late that he feels he must go through any entrance. So he walks through the adult entrance by mistake. As a result, he does not have enough money to buy a gift, failing the larger quest. But, regardless of this failure, the boy can try these quests as many as he wants until he finally succeeds in completing them. But no matter how the boy tries to accomplish these sub-quests, he is doomed to fail them because he cannot make his uncle come home early. The more he tries his quest, the more bitterly he realizes that he will ultimately fail. In this respect, the boy’s “anguish and anger” should be understood as his epiphany: the re-playability of the game is possible, but all the replays lead to the same failure: losing the game. In this regard, reading Joyce’s “Araby” is much like playing a video game.
Key Words
James Joyce, Video Games, Game Quests, Failures, Re-playability
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