Monthly Archives: September 2013

Who’s actually speaking?

“He felt small and weak. When would he be like the fellows in poetry and rhetoric? They had big voices and big boots and they studied trigonometry. That was very far away.”

Notes: Transition from childhood into adulthood. Stephen is desperately trying to escape the world he lives in, but is afraid. He hasn’t found his place in the world yet.  On a more general note, there are lots of religious references and imagery. Another thing I noticed about this novel is that there is very little to no dialogue present. They are mostly inner monologues or observations. The narrator appears to be subjective and simply state things from a third-person perspective (Stephen’s perspective as a child); however, there are instances where the narrator conveys his ideas/inklings of what’s to happen. There is a sense of omniscience present.

James Joyce, in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Oxford World’s Classics, 2000

getting older and reaching further

“But he felt better now than before. It would be nice getting better slowly. You could get a book then. There was a book in the library about Holland. There were lovely foreign names in it and pictures of strange looking cities and ships. It made you feel so happy” (20).

 

“He returned to Mercedes and, as he brooded upon her image, a strange unrest crept into his blood. Sometimes a fever gathered within him and led him to rove alone in the evening along the quiet avenue. The peace of the gardens and the kindly lights in the windows poured a tender influence into his restless heart. The noise of children at play annoyed him and their silly voices made him feel, even more keenly than he had felt at Clongowes, that he was different from others. He did not want to play. He wanted to meet in the real world the unsubstantial image which his soul so constantly beheld. He did not know where to seek it or how, but a premonition which led him on told him that this image would, without any overt act of his, encounter him” (53).

 

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. (1916). A Penn State Electronic Classic Series Publication. 2000. Web.

 

The presence of epiphanies is prominent in this piece of work. We, as readers, are in Stephen’s mind- we are exploring his thoughts with him. Both passages convey a deep nostalgia and wanderlust, a sort of longing within him for something he has yet to grasp. He feels ‘happy’ looking at pictures of foreign lands, sees himself as ‘different from others’, and wants to venture out into the ‘real world’. Stylistically, one should note the change in language from the first passage to the second one; as the novel progresses, so does the vocabulary and complexity of the sentences. This may be an indication of Stephen’s psychological maturation, the fact that he is beginning to understand the world in a more complex way as he grows older.

 

A Closer Look

“The first day in the hall of the castle when she had said goodbye she had put up her veil double to her nose to kiss him: and her nose and eyes were red. But he had pretended not to see that she was going to cry. She was a nice mother but she was not so nice when she cried. And his father had given him fiveshilling pieces for pocket money. And his father had told him if he wanted anything to write home to him and, what he did, never to peach on a fellow” (Joyce 7).

“He could not get out the answer for the sum but it did not matter. White roses and red roses: those were beautiful colors to think of. And the cards for first place and second place and third place were beautiful colours too: pink and cream and lavender. Lavender and cream and pink were beautiful colours to think of. Perhaps a wild rose might be like those colours and he remembered the song about the wild rose blossoms on the little green place. But you could not have a green rose. But perhaps somewhere in the world you could” (9).

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.

tags: family, color, symbolism, rose, Stephen, new places

Childhood

He still tried to think what was the right answer. Was it right to kiss his mother or wrong to kiss his mother? You put your face up like that to say goodnight and then his mother put her face down. That was to kiss. His mother put her lips to his cheek; her lips were lips were soft and they wetted his cheek; and they made a tiny little noise: kiss. Why did people do that with their two faces? (11)

His fingers trembled as he undressed himself in the dormitory. He told his fingers to hurry up. He had to undress and then kneel and say his own prayers and be in bed before the gas was lowered so that he might not go to hell when he died. He rolled his stockings off and put on his nightshirt quickly and knelt trembling at his bedside and repeated his prayers quickly quickly, fearing that the gas would go down. (15)

Within both passages Joyce explores the childish innocence that Stephen views the world. In the first passage, Stephen questions whether it is right or not to kiss his mother. He demonstrates this curiosity in kissing itself by analyzing the entire act. In the second passage, Stephen shows his innocence in his fear of not being in bed before the gas was lowered. Joyce emphasis the boy’s sense of urgency through the repetition of words such as “quickly”.

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.

Right vs Wrong in Joyce

“They all laughed again. Stephen tried to laugh with them. He felt his whole body hot tight and confused in a moment. What was the right answer to the question? He had given two and still Wells laughed. But Wells must know the right answer for he was third in grammar.” (11)

-Certainly, said Dante. It is a question of public morality. A priest would not be a priest if he did not tell his flock what is right and what is wrong. (25)

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.

The two entires above stress the idea of other individuals knowing the correct answer to questions, whether simple or complex. In the first, Wells has to know which answer is right. Stephen cannot see that he is being mocked, but rather sees that Wells knows all. Obviously, Stephen cannot know the right answer because everyone is laughing at him. is the idea that  people cannot think for themselves. They have to go to other people and see the correct response/answer may be. The second entry also goes along these line. It states that individuals are willing to trust others just because of a title or status. People are suppose to trust a priest because they know what the difference between good and evil is. They know what is right and wrong. All because they are called a priest. They have been trained to know this.  You may not even know the priest well at all, but your suppose to trust him. Both entries highlight the thought that as individuals, we turn to others greatly for the right answers.

Color, Imagination, and Childhood

“White roses and red roses:  those were beautiful colours to think of.  And the cards for first place and second place and third place were beautiful colours too:  pink and cream and lavender.  Lavender and cream and pink roses were beautiful to think of .  Perhaps a wild rose might be like those colours and he remembered the song about the wild rose blossoms on the little green place.  But you could not have a green rose.  But perhaps somewhere in the world you could.” (9).

“Fleming had a box of crayons and one night during free study he had coloured the earth green and the clouds maroon.  That was like the two brushes in Dante’s press, the brush with the green velvet back for Parnell and the brush with the maroon velvet for Michael Davitt.  But he had not told Fleming to colour them those colours.  Fleming had done it himself.” (12).

The thing that I saw that was interesting about both of these passages was that they both involve color and what is considered “normal.”  Green roses aren’t normal and so you cannot have one.  In the second passage,  Fleming colors maroon clouds.  He is careful to mention that he hadn’t insisted that Fleming color such a thing.  It kind of brings out the idea of how as kids we’re able to stretch our imagination to where coloring maroon clouds may be normal (or a green rose).  At a certain point, our imagination shrinks and so coloring those things breaks the norms of what we’re used to considering as correct.

Joyce, “Portrait,” Ch. 1-2

“Some weeks Jack Lawton got the card for first and some weeks he got the card for first. His white silk badge fluttered and fluttered as he worked at the next sum and heard Father Arnall’s voice. Then all his eagerness passed away and he felt his face quite cool. He thought his face must be white because it felt so cool. He could not get out the answer for the sum but it did not matter. White roses and red roses: those were beautiful colours to think of. And the cards for first place and second place and third place were beautiful colours too: pink and cream and lavender. Lavender and cream and pink roses were beautiful to think of. Perhaps a wild rose might be like those colours and he remembered the song about the wild rose blossoms on the little green place. But you could not have a green rose. But perhaps somewhere in the world you could.”

“It could not be a wall; but there could be a thin thin line there all round everything. It was very big to think about everything and everywhere. Only God could do that. He tried to think what a big thought that must be; but he could only think of God. God was God’s name just as his name was Stephen. DIEU was the French for God and that was God’s name too; and when anyone prayed to God and said DIEU then God knew at once that it was a French person that was praying. But, though there were different names for God in all the different languages in the world and God understood what all the people who prayed said in their different languages, still God remained always the same God and God’s real name was God.

It made him very tired to think that way. It made him feel his head very big. He turned over the flyleaf and looked wearily at the green round earth in the middle of the maroon clouds. He wondered which was right, to be for the green or for the maroon, because Dante had ripped the green velvet back off the brush that was for Parnell one day with her scissors and had told him that Parnell was a bad man. He wondered if they were arguing at home about that. That was called politics. There were two sides in it: Dante was on one side and his father and Mr Casey were on the other side but his mother and uncle Charles were on no side. Every day there was something in the paper about it.”

-James Joyce, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”
(1916)

Notes: These passages both contain good examples of Joyce’s use of wordplay, repetition, and color symbolism in his early work. More of Joyce’s tone comes across through his diction and specific syntax (meant generally in “Portrait” to reflect the growth of a young mind) than through the actual content of a given passage.

Notes: Modernist perception of time, modernist perception of the individual, Bildungsroman, prose style, character naming, color symbolism, Joycean epiphany (see: Stephen Hero)

Hearing the Voice in Joyce

O how cold and strange it was to think of that! All the dark was cold and strange. There were pale strange faces there, great eyes like carriagelamps. They were the ghosts of murderers, the figures of marshals who had received their death wound on battlefields far away over the sea. What did they wish to say that their faces were so strange? (Joyce, 16)

Note: Choice of diction within this passage is significant. Repetition of “cold” and “strange” emphasizes a neurotic and restless voice. 

The train was full of fellows: a long long chocolate train with cream facings. The guards went to and fro opening, closing, locking, unlocking the doors. They were men in dark blue and silver; they had silvery whistles and their keys made a quick music: click, click: click, click. (Joyce, 17)

Note: This passage, as well as the above mentioned, carries the same anxious feel except it is illustrated with a poetic sound rather than the use of repeated words. Sentences are broken up with punctuation like commas and colons, creating these fragmented catching-the-breath-like sounds.

Portrait of Innocence

O, I say, here’s a fellow who says he kisses his mother every night before he goes to bed. The other fellows stopped their game and turned round, laughing Stephen blushed under their eyes and said  –I do not. Wells said: –O, I say, here is a fellow who says he doesn’t kiss his mother before he goes to bed. They all laughed again. Stephen tried to laugh again. He felt his whole body hot and confused in a moment. What was the right answer to the question? (pg 7)

His mother kissed him. Was that right? (pg 11)

Joyce, James. a portrait of the artist as a young man. New York City: Dover Thrift Editions, 1994. Print.

Notes: Both passages show Stephen confusion as a young child who feels lost in a new environment. He is a new student and cannot seem to fit in and does not know what the other children aspect of him so that he could fit in with the rest. His innocence is very apparent in both passages because as a young student in a new school he just wants to make friends and fit in with the rest of the students. These passages can be related universally because everyone has been through this kind of experience.

A vivid memory

“The bell rang and the classes began to file out of the rooms and along the corridors towards the refectory. He sat looking at the two prints of butter on his plate but could not eat the damp bread. The tablecloth was damp and limp. But he drank off the hot weak tea which the clumsy scullion, girt with a white apron, poured into his cup. He wondered whether the scullion’s apron was damp too or whether all white things were cold and damp. Nasty Roche and Saurin drank cocoa that their people sent them in tins. They said they could not drink the tea; that it was hogwash. Their fathers were magistrates, the fellows said”

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Oxford University Press In., 2000. Print.

Notes: I chose a passage which seemed to embody the style of Joyce in this particular work, a lot of attention is given to the details, details noticed by human senses (sight: white, hearing: bell rang, taste: weak, and most of all touch: hot/cold/damp). This gives an idea that the scene described is very vivid in the character’s mind, this type of writing also gives the reader the feeling that he is really following the character’s thought process.