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.
“The Vances lived in number seven. They had a different father and mother. They were Eileen’s father and mother.” — Joyce, James, and Peter Harness. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. London: Collector’s Library, 2005. Print. (8)
“All the boys seemed to him very strange. They had all fathers and mothers and different clothes and voices. He longed to be at home and lay his head on his mother’s lap.” (13)
“He tried to think of Well’s mother but he did not dare to raise his eyes to Well’s face. He did not like Well’s face.” (15)
“Stephen Dedalus/Class of Elements/ Clongrowes Wood College/ Sallins/ County Kildare/ Ireland/ Europe/ The World/ The Universe” (17)
“It was very big to think about everything and everywhere. Only God could do that.” (17)
Notes: family, relativity, isolation, Stephen determining his place in the world, unknown = foreign = scary, family = familiarity = comfort, proximity, fear of the unknown, relationship to others
“It pained him that he did not know well what politics meant and that he did not know where the universe ended. He felt small and weak. When would he be like the big fellows in poetry and rhetoric? That they had big voice and big boots and they studied trigonometry. That was very far away” (13).
“And the whitegrey face and the nocouloured eyes behind the steelrimmed spectacles were cruel looking because he had steadied the hand firs with his firm soft fingers and that was to hit it better and louder” (43).
Both passages mark this sense of innocence and smallness that as children we all feel. In the first quote Stephen reminds us what it’s like to want to grow up and how badly it’s wanted. That, a bit later on, he begins counting the semesters until he realizes that being grown-up is too distant a place to count to and then submits to that it will just come, eventually. In the second quote there is another sort of innocence. Stephen is positively naïve while his punishment is ongoing that this trusted figure will still be good, and how the shock occurs reverberates, long after the action has ended. His innocence is perhaps not shattered, but he has learned to distrust.
“There were lanterns in the hall of his father’s house and ropes of green branches. There were holly and ivy round the pier glass and holly and ivy, green and red, tined round the chandeliers. There were red holly and green ivy round the old portraits on the walls. Holly and ivy for him and for Christmas.” (17-18)
“The word was beautiful: wine. It made your think of dark purple because the grapes were dark purple that grew in Greece outside houses like white temples.” (49)
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Huebsch, 1918.Internet Archive. http://archive.org/details/aportraitartist01joycgoog
The idea of colors play an important role in both passages. Colors can both represent an event and evoke feelings. Stephen uses the colors red and green for holly and ivy to symbolize Christmas. To conjure up nice thoughts he vividly visualizes what his father’s house would look like and he uses red and green to remind him of what the holidays at home would be. In the second passage he thinks the word wine is beautiful and nice to think about because it makes him visualize the color dark purple. In both instances he uses colors to evoke nice thoughts. The association of color with feelings allow readers to feel a certain way about different colors.
“It pained him that he did not know well what politics meant and that he did not know where the universe ended. He felt small and weak.”
“We are an unfortunate priestridden race and always will be until the end of the chapter.”
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Edited by Jeri Johnson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Page 13, 31.
“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).
Joyce, James. (2008). A portrait of the artist as a young man. Oxford, Great Britain: Oxford university press.
Notes: The colors of the roses that are being described from Stephen’s viewpoint greatly contrast moments dark and dreary moments in the story . It is interesting to note that Stephen is paying close attention to the colors of the roses as he becomes ill. Stephen thinking about the potential of a green rose’s existence is his last thought about these colors as the bell rings and his thinking is disrupted.