Araby and Sunrise on the Veld

Two Short Stories Of Awareness Beyond Oneself:
"Araby" And "A Sunrise On The Veld"

"Araby" by James Joyce and "A Sunrise On The Veld" by Doris Lessing are both short stories in which the
protagonists gained a consciousness that was beyond themselves. The main characters are both initiated
into new realities and truths of which they were not previously aware. Both short stories will be
examined with reflections according to the type of initiation that was experienced, the nature of the
narrators, the similar and dissimilar aspects of both characters and various components of the short
In the two stories, both characters were experiencing an initiation or awareness of new
actualities that were outside of themselves. The main characters both painfully learned that this
initiation was beyond their control. It was impossible for them to ignore the new realities which they
both came to understand. The new found awareness was so powerful that it changed each boy’s entire
outlook and they both began to see the world through new eyes. The type of initiation both characters
had was a distressing journey from innocence to knowledge and experience.
The two narrators had different attitudes and reactions to the initiation experience.
In Araby, the reader learns of the boy’s initiation in the final sentence:
"Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and
my eyes burned with anguish and anger."1

The character had a negative reaction to his new awareness. His realization caused him to have feelings
of shame, anguish and anger. He was possessed and controlled by his passion for Mangan’s older sister.
His ideals of the girl were not realistic but were futile and vain. The girl drew out feelings in him
and he discovered that feelings must be reciprocated and the downside that love can also be painful. He
had a difficult time accepting his own weakness. He was in distress because he had stopped for a moment
and gazed up into the darkness and realized that his previous feelings were wonderful but the only
reality existed in his feelings. It had no existence beyond how he felt and the understanding of this
was painful for the character.
The protagonist of A Sunrise On The Veld was more accepting towards his experience of
initiation than that of the character in Araby. The boy’s attitude was stoical:
"...this is how life goes one, by living things dying in anguish."2
His feelings were of acceptance.
In the beginning, the boy felt in control of himself in every way, and came to feel in
control of the world in which he lived. This attitude changed completely after his encounter with the
dying buck. He accepted the fact that there was nothing he could do to help and that some things were
not in his power and were beyond his ability to control. He came to an awareness of his own limitations
and accepted the inevitable. The character suffered however and felt anger, but also he was satisfied
with what he realized about the cruelty of nature and life.
There were several similarities and differences between the central characters. The two
protagonists were both male and were young in age. Each was overcome and enthusiastic towards their
feelings of delight and became aware of the negative side to joy. The boys were imaginative and romantic
about their individual passions. They were both prompted by something or someone outside of themselves.
The characters held an appreciation for beauty. The type of beauty the boys appreciated differed. The
character in Araby felt emotional about a human being and the boy in A Sunrise On The Veld felt a love
for nature. Both characters experienced an impatience and eagerness towards their obsessions. The boy in
Araby could not wait to visit the bazaar as the boy in A Sunrise On The Veld was eager to wake up and go
into the vast fields of nature. One character was overcome by the morning, the nature and was
exhilarated to be a part of it all. Similarly, the boy in Araby had the !
same feeling, however he was falling in love with a girl. One had a connection with nature and the other
felt a connection with a person. They felt a oneness with the object of their love. They tried to break
down the boundaries of their isolation. Both passions brought them out of their aloneness and