Tag Archives: 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.

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.

Complex Development

“Melanctha Herbert had not loved herself in childhood. All of her youth was bitter to remember.” (50)

“And Melanctha loved him for it always, her Jeff Campbell now, who never did things ugly, for her, like all the men she always knew before always had been going to her.” (90)

Stein, Gertrude. ” Melanctha” Three Lives.  Mineola: Dover, 1994.  50-90. Print


In Melanctha, the first part of work focuses on her childhood, and how this would shape her into the women described as the book goes on. The first quote sums up that section rather well. It states that she had a bad childhood, from a mean father, to misleading friends. What is interesting is the second quote. She say ‘all the men she always knew before…’, which references her father and the men she interacted with prior to meeting Jeff. This is important because the first quote reminds us that Melanctha did not have a great childhood, one that she tries to block out. Yet, Jeff Campbell is so good to her, that when she does look back at the dark time in her life, she clearly sees she has something better. After keeping to herself, she is willing to open up to this young man. It is the idea that as the book develops, so does the complex protagonist.