Tag Archives: innocence

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.

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.