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Posted on August 21st, 2012, by

All four works Araby by James Joyce, the Bass, the River and Sheila Mant by W. D. Wetherell, When I was One-and-twenty by A. E. Housman and Oranges by Gary Soto are united by one theme: young love, first love affairs, adoration, first strong feelings and emotions. However, despite the common theme, the works differ in their form and style of narration: Araby and The Bass, the River and Sheila Mant are short stories, while Oranges and When I Was One-and-twenty are poems. In all these works the main character is a young teenager who tells about his first love and inclination for a girl. In all works the main character’s feelings are shown in progress and we can observe how he is moving from innocence to maturity.

Housman in his poem presents a young man who is twenty-one years old and who does not listen to the older man’s advice. He is inspired by his feelings, emotions prevail over thoughts: But I was one-and-twenty, No use to talk to me (line 7, 8). The adviser advices the young man to give everything meaning as material object: Give crowns and pounds and guineas/ Give pearls away and rubies (line 3-5) but be careful with his heart. However, the speaker realizes the real sense of these words later. The poem is not accidentally divided into two stanzas: the first stanza depicts a young man who is blind because of his feelings and who does not listen to anybody, however, the second stanza presents us an image of a mature man who has learned an important lesson about love and now at last believes the old man’s words: I am two-and-twenty, / And oh, tis true, tis true (line 15, 16).

The poem Oranges by Gary Soto is also a bright example of love poetry. The young boy is so innocent and nice in his young love that nobody cab stay apart. He makes one step further on his way to adulthood and this step is his young love. Oranges become the symbol of bright and new feeling which changes everything around the boy:

The first time I walked
With a girl, I was twelve,
Cold, and weighted down
With two oranges in my jacket (line 1-4).

The boy is so young and so excited about his first feelings which make his heart beaten faster that he does not notice anything around him except this young lady and he wants to make this girl also feel so happy and excited. These symbolic oranges add some mystery and excitement to the poem showing the young love in its best light.

It is interesting to mention that the young love theme does not only prevail in poetry as it was brightly illustrated above. The young love and illusions connected with it are the main themes of the short story Araby by Joyce. The story is a first-person narration and recalls a story of the first love of the protagonist. The story contains a lot of symbols and allusion, like all the works of James Joyce.  Despite its small size, the story contains a lot of layers of meaning. From first perspective, the story tells us about first love. The main character narrates about his infatuation for his friend’s sister. He spends days and nights dreaming about her and makes numerous attempts to see her. This passion occupies all his thoughts and places him in the imaginary world where he sometimes loses ties with reality. One day the object of his adoration asks him about going to Araby bazaar and the boy promises to bring her a present. He spends all the time left thinking about the future journey but arrives there too late because his uncle forgets about his trip and comes home late. By the time of his arrival the most of the shops are closed and the boy can’t find anything for a present. The feeling of anger and vanity of his trip comes as a sudden realization to him. The physical events described in the story make only one plane of the narration. The world of inner feelings and emotion makes the second one. The allusion to religious belief and attitude constitute another theme of the story.

The author uses a lot of means to recreate the inner world of young boy who feels lonely and isolated and lives in his own world of fantasies.

Despair and isolation are the main feelings which are shown in the story. The last sentence of the short story describes the final conclusion of the protagonist. North Richmond Street describes not only the place where the main character lives, it also depicts the inner world of the protagonist. The story starts describing the blind, where the house of the protagonist stays in. Only at the end of the story the reader realizes that it is not only the house, which occurred in the blind, but also the protagonist. The journey to Araby becomes a symbolic journey to maturity and the protagonists stays disillusioned when he reaches his goal. He comes a long way in order to realize he is trapped in the blind. Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger (Joyce, 2115). The journey, which looked like a dream and occupied all the boy’s thoughts, turned to be a disappointment. Led by the desire to buy a present for the girl he loves he comes to the bazaar too late when everything is closed. It is not the late arrival and not even the lost opportunity to win the love of his friend’s sister that strikes the protagonist so hard. Left alone in the big dark hall he comes to sudden realization about the sense of his life. It is not the trip, that makes him so disappointed, lost and angry but the life itself which seems to be deprived of any sense, vain and empty. The trip to Araby is a symbolic search for the ideal which results in a failure and leave the protagonist disillusioned and lost.

The main theme of all the works analyzed is young love, however, it is necessary to mention that every author uses his own images and stylistic devices to deliver his message to the readers. This type of narration is used not accidentally: this device helps the author to show the state of young love, all feelings and emotions, inspirations and disappointments. Secondly, all the characters move toward their adulthood.

They all are on different stages of their development and they feel differently. In When I Was One-and-twenty the lyrical hero realizes later that he was blind and totally preoccupied  by his feelings, so now he is wiser. In a short story Araby the main hero lives in an illusory world, he has become a victim of his feeling, nevertheless, it is also a life lesson for him. In Oranges a young boy is inspired by his first tender feelings and is absolutely charmed by the girl with him that he sees the world in a new light. The authors use different stylistic devices and images to make their characters and their feelings more obvious and colorful and every author does it perfectly: in front of our eyes we see a picture of a young man with all his excitement, encouragement and trepidation about his first love. This experience is step forward on their way to maturity and every lyric character makes this step forward.

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