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Portrait of an Artist
In Joyce’s novel, "A portrait of an Artist as a Young Man", he weaves the stories of his youth
and his growth as a young man to tell us about who he was as an individual and the sort of life he lead. Joyce uses
many techniques such as stream of consciousness to help us picture his mindset and help his audience feel the emotions
he had after the certain situations of his life. In the novel, Joyce uses the young character Stephen as his protagonist
to display the deep emotional turmoil and growth of the youth into the artist that he would become. As Stephen becomes
disheartened by the way his life is heading while facing all of the dead-end realities of life, he is embarrassed by the
financial situation of his family. The cause of the misfortune and humiliation Stephen feels is traced back to the failure
and betrayal of his father, Simon Dedalus, which is the symbolic failure of Ireland and its leaders to unite as a people and
causes Stephen to leave it behind.
From the beginning of the novel, "family" plays a central part in his growth, symbolizing many different things throughout
his life. The first section of the novel sets the stage for the rest of his life. Stephen feels he should be the center of his
family’s universe, or the "baby tuckoo". His family symbolizes the oppression that Stephen encounters throughout his life.
"Apologise, pull out his eyes, pull out his eyes, apologise (Joyce 4)." Later the reader finds that this symbolizes how his family
will not accept his spontaneous outbursts, especially involving the arts. Its also important to note that even at this early part
of his life, Stephen prefers his mother over his father, which shows later on in the novel. " . . . he had a hairy face . . . his
mother had a nicer smell than his father. (Joyce 3)"
In the first Chapter, at Clongowes, Stephen feels isolated. Uncomfortable in his new surroundings, he turns to thoughts of
his family, who symbolize security. "He longed to be at home and lay his head on his mother’s lap. But he could not: and so he
longed for the play and study and prayers to be over and to be in bed (Joyce 9)." Stephen needs this escape, and thoughts of his
family fills this requirement. He thinks of the time when he had to say goodbye to his family, because he feels like he’s "caught
in the whirl of a scrimmage . . . fearful of the flashing eyes and muddy boots . . ." at Clongowes.
Like his father, his mother also influences Stephen’s development. She symbolizes Stephen’s loyalty, in specific to Ireland,
which is shown in Chapter 1. This is where we receive the first hints about Stephen’s thoughts of exile from his Mother Ireland. While
he is at boarding school, Stephen feared exile from his mother, which relates to his experience with Ireland. He feels great anxiety
because of his separation from home. When one of his peers asks Stephen about kissing his mother, these fears are once again aroused.
"He still tried to think what was the right answer. Was it right to kiss his mother or wrong to kiss his mother (Joyce 11)?"
One of the most important events in Stephen’s life occurs when he goes back home for Christmas dinner with his family in Bray.
This symbolizes his entrance into adulthood. For the first time, he says grace before the meal. Stephen envisions this adult world as
exciting, joyful, and full of hope. Unfortunately for Stephen, however, this dinner with his family would also symbolize the loss of his
innocence. During the dinner, his family engages in a fierce debate. At this point, Stephen loses his view of what adult life entails.
The evident flaws of his adult family members make Stephen realize for the first time that the passage into adulthood means the death of
parts of himself, specifically his innocence. After this incident, Stephen will never look at life and the world around him the same.
Stephen’s shame in his father begins quickly in the book as early in his childhood Stephen must change schools. He learns he will
not be returning to Clongowes Wood College because of his
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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Knstlerroman, Stephen
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