The quest narrative is a common method of narration present in almost every adventure story in one form or another. One key characteristic which defines all quest narratives, irrespective of type, is the search for a “Holy Grail” – symbolic of something the protagonist desires. In a quest narrative it is often appropriate to refer to the protagonist as the hero. However, despite the connotations of the word “hero” to a figure who is flawless in both form and disposition, the hero usually does not begin the story as a perfect figure; the hero must undergo a series of trials and tribulations to which the hero emerges as a changed character. It is this journey to achieve greatness that characterizes all quest narratives. “Sonny’s Blues”
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Some readers may question this claim that the Narrator tries to be big brother throughout the entire text, reflected by statements like these early in the text: “I haven’t seen Sonny for over a year, I’m not sure I’m going to do anything” (149) in response when asked by the druggie as to what he is going to do about Sonny. However, the Narrator’s apparent indifference primarily comes from his disillusionment from living in the crime-stricken, poverty-infested environment of Harlem rather than a denial as role as big brother. The Narrator’s devotion to be the big brother-figure is strong even in his flashbacks, before he comes to truly recognize his duty of kin. Perhaps the best representation of his continual devotion to be big brother is when he tries to patch things up with Sonny while he’s staying at the Village, only to be ridiculed by Sonny’s friends. It is the devotion to achieve a desire that represents the Holy Grail; in the case of “Sonny’s Blues”, it is the Narrator’s penis.
Whereas it was the protagonist’s devotion to achieve a desire that marked the Holy Grail in “Sonny’s Blues”, it is the protagonist’s obsession to get the girl in that defines the Holy Grail in “Araby”. The Holy Grail is embodied in Mangan’s sister, with whom the Narrator seeks a romantic relationship with. In its broadest sense “Araby” is the quest for the girl. Joyce establishes the Narrator’s fascination with Mangan’s sister as an obsession, to the point