A young boy deals with the death of his friend, an elderly priest who ended his life paralyzed. His mother brings him to the wake, where they sit with the priest's sisters, and learn some unsettling facts about the priest's last days.
A young boy, longing for adventure and escape from the tedium of school life, plays hooky with a classmate. The boys traipse about some of Dublin's seedier areas, finally coming across a very strange old man, who may have some dark intentions.
A youth in the throes of his first passion hopes to win a girl's affection by buying a gift at Araby, an Orientalist bazaar. But when he does go to Araby, he finds nothing but disappointment.
A nineteen-year-old girl struggles with poverty and the difficulties of supporting her family. Her means of escape is a sailor named Frank, who promises her a new life in Buenos Aires. At the end, however, she is too frightened to leave Dublin.
After the Race:
Jimmy Doyle, the dilettante son of a nouveau riche merchant, tries to keep up with his wealthy and sophisticated friends from the continent. He ends up losing badly in a card game aboard a wealthy American's yacht.
Corley and Lenehan, the seediest characters of the collection, plot to get some money out of Corley's newest girl. While Corley works on her, Lenehan has all too much time alone. He reflects on the unreliability of friends and the unchangeable poverty he lives in. But in the end, Corley works his magic and gets his girlfriend to give him a shiny golden coin.
The Boarding House:
Mrs. Mooney, proprietor of one Dublin's boarding houses, learns that her daughter Polly has been carrying on an affair with Mr. Doran, one of the boarders. She responds by trying to trap Mr. Doran in a marriage with Polly.
A Little Cloud:
Little Chandler has drinks with Gallagher, an old friend who now lives in London. Chandler is trapped in a dead end job in Dublin, but he has vague poetic aspirations. Later that night at home, he comes to realize that he'll never be able to maintain the focus to become a poet; his family life is too demanding.
Farrinton, an alcoholic scrivener, is trapped in a dead end job where his boss despises him. One day he spends an exorbitant sum in an attempt to get drunk. He ends up humiliated before his friends, and finishes his evening angry and not drunk enough to suit his tastes. When he gets home, he takes out his frustrations on his young son.
Maria, an elderly Catholic woman working in a Protestant charity, goes to spend the eve of Hallowe'en with Joe Donnelly, a man who has been like her own son. The evening goes well, but during the divination game, Maria picks clay, the emblem of death.
A Painful Case:
Mr. James Duffey begins a sexless affair with Mrs. Sinico, an unhappy married woman. The two never manage to break through their inhibitions, and they stop seeing each other. Years later, Mr. Duffey reads in the paper that Mrs. Sinico has died in a tram accident.
Ivy Day in the Committee Room:
Various canvassers for different candidates meet up in the committee room. As they talk about their work and Irish politics, a strong picture of Irish political culture emerges.
Mrs. Kearney, a domineering and stubborn woman, becomes involved with the Eire Abu attempts to mount a musical production. When the production flops, Mrs. Kearney threatens to ruin the whole performance by insisting that her daughter be paid the contractual fee promised.
Mr. Kernan, a man in social decline, struggles with alcoholism. His friends plot to him on a church retreat. When they visit Mr. Kernan in his sickbed, their wild conversation about Church history and doctrine manages to get every central event and tenet of the Catholic Church hopeless jumbled up.
At their annual holiday season dance, Aunt Julia and Aunt Kate entertain a wide range of guests. Among them is their nephew Gabriel, a sensitive man of letters who makes a speech honoring his aunts. Later that night, Gabriel finds himself swept away with passion for his wife Gretta. But when they return to their hotel room, he finds she has been thinking about Michael Furey, her first love, who died for love of her.