Obsession with Relativity — Family ties and Relation to the World

“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

2 thoughts on “Obsession with Relativity — Family ties and Relation to the World

  1. This post is so intriguing in that you touch on how Stephen sees himself relative to both his family and the world at large. I always got the sense that Stephen both felt safe in his contained space, but that he was always searching for more. In the passages you’ve pulled out, Stephen also looks at himself in relation to other boys in Clongowes, and how they interact with their families, constantly making connections that both draw him closer to and distance himself from his classmates. He further, in these instances when he’s thinking about his place in the world both physically and mentally, he always seems very hypersensitive to all that’s going on around him (people, places, society all play a role in how Stephen sees the world and himself in it); and this adds to the creative realm Stephen inhabits and develops in as well.

    1. This post was really interesting. All of the passages that you used were ones that Stephen identifies himself within or he is specifically identifying others. It shows the curiosity and innocence of children and Stephen was no different. He is interested in how he fits into the world and how his peers at Clongowes fit in as well.

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