“He felt small and weak. When would he be like the fellows in poetry and rhetoric? They had big voices and big boots and they studied trigonometry. That was very far away.”
Notes: Transition from childhood into adulthood. Stephen is desperately trying to escape the world he lives in, but is afraid. He hasn’t found his place in the world yet. On a more general note, there are lots of religious references and imagery. Another thing I noticed about this novel is that there is very little to no dialogue present. They are mostly inner monologues or observations. The narrator appears to be subjective and simply state things from a third-person perspective (Stephen’s perspective as a child); however, there are instances where the narrator conveys his ideas/inklings of what’s to happen. There is a sense of omniscience present.
James Joyce, in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Oxford World’s Classics, 2000
“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.
“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.
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.
“He passed along the narrow dark corridor, passing little doors that were the doors of the rooms of the community. He peered in front of him and right and left through the gloom and thought that those must be portraits. It was dark and silent and his eyes were weak and tired with tears so that he could not see. But he thought they were the portraits of the saints and great men of the order who were looking down on him silently as he passed: saint Ignatius Loyola holding an open book and pointing to the words Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam in it, saint Francis Xavier pointing to his chest, Lorenzo Ricci with his berretta on his head like one of the prefect of the lines, the three patrons of holy youth, saint Stanislaus Kostka, saint Aloysius Gonzaga and blessed John Berchmans, all with young faces because they died when they were young, and Father Peter Kenny sitting in a chair wrapped in a big cloak” (57).
“They made a cradle of their locked hands and hoisted him up among them and carried him along till he struggled to get free. And when he had escaped from them they broke away in all directions, flinging their caps again into the air and whistling as they went spinning up and crying:” (60)
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Penguin Books, 2003.
Notes: When Stephen is unable to study because his glasses are broken, Father Dolan reprimands him. The broken glass represents religions distorted view of the world–that people should not live their lives based on religion’s dogmatic teachings. When Stephen’s friends encourages him to report the incident to the rector, he passes by a hallway which was dark and silent to convey the kind of lives that people lead that suppress their views in favor of religion. As he passes the hallway, it is filled with pictures of saints as if to imply to Stephen that what you are doing is wrong and that you should not report Father Dolan to the rector. Ironically, Joyce does not capitalize the word “saint” to refer to the religious figures. As if Joyce is conveying that religious figures are no different from you and I and that their orders and teachings should not be followed blindly. After reporting Father Dolan to the rector, Stephen is hoisted up in the air as if to signify his triumph over religion.
“He closed his eyes and the train went on, roaring and then stopping; roaring again, stopping” (9).
“The guards went to and fro opening, closing, locking, unlocking the doors” (17).
James Joyce is an artist in the way that he paints with words. The way in which he constructed these sentences (and the rest of the novel, for that matter) is quite telling of his abilities to create a portrait without ever picking up a brush and pallet. He combines the past tense with the progressive tense, painting an image of something that has already occurred and yet is still occurring at the same time. A painting, for example, shows an image of something that occurred in the past, but to the onlooker in the present the image is still continuing. In Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night, the night he painted passed, but to the person viewing the image the night is still occurring. Similarly, Joyce is an artist who is painting a portrait of the events that took place in the main character’s life – events that took place and are still taking place simultaneously.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Huebsch, 1918. Internet Archive. http://archive.org/details/aportraitartist01joycgoog.
“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
“He hid under the table” Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print. Pg. 5.
“He kept on the fringe of his line, out of the sight of the prefect” (Joyce 6)
“After supper in the studyhall he would change the number pasted up inside his desk from seventyseven to seventysix” (Joyce 7).
“He felt small and weak” (Joyce 13.)
“You could die just the same on a sunny day. He might die before his mother came (Joyce 19).
“His soul was still disquieted and cast down by the dull phenomenon of Dublin” (Joyce 65).
“He chronicled with patience what he saw detaching himself from it and testing its mortifying flavor in secret” (Joyce 56).
As a child Stephen tries to make himself physically invisible. His anguish at school is palpable and his perception of time as an immovable object is represented in paper numbers hidden in his desk or as one more hour of the day between him, sleep, and a new number. As Stephen becomes older he finds himself mentally detached from the people and places around him with a chronic longing and restlessness that can’t be quenched.
“He could scarcely recognize his own thoughts, and repeated slowly to himself: I am Stephen Dedalus. I am walking beside my father who is Simon Dedalus. We are in Cork, in Ireland…” (Joyce 77-78)
This is similar to the poem that Stephen made out of his name and information that he printed in his geography book at school ~ pg 12. As if he needs to ground himself with names and places but do they really ground him? As if he knows the power and weakness of words.
“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.
“…He hardly knew where he was walking. Pride and hope and desire like crushed herbs in his heart sent up vapours of maddening incense before the eyes of his mind. He strode down the hill amid the tumult of suddenrisen vapours of wounded pride and fallen hope and baffled desire… ” (Joyce 72).
“…No life or youth stirred in him as it had stirred in them. He had known neither pleasure of companionship with others nor the vigour of rude male health or filial piety. Nothing stirred within his soul but a cold and cruel and loveless lust… ” (Joyce 80).
Notes- irony and learning.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.