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.

1 thought on “Right vs Wrong in Joyce

  1. I think these are great passage choices, and I think I wrote of the same topic. Throughout the novel Stephen struggles to define things as “good” or “bad”. He tries to define the world around him in certain criteria, but sometimes he gets stuck in where to place people. The priest, for example, should be “good”, although as he struggles with finding himself in his world, he ends up rejecting the church. So really, he is struggling with how he categorizes them as compared to everyone else, and how those differences define him.

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