Emerging as an Artist; Stephen in Dublin

“All the leisure which was his school life left him was passed in the company of subversive writers whose gibe and violence of speech set up a ferment in his brain before they passed out of it into his writings.

The essay was for him the chief labour of his week and every Tuesday, as he marched from home to the school, he read his fate in the incidents of the way, pitting himself against some figure ahead of him and quickening his pace to outstrip it before a certain goal was reached or planting his steps scrupulously in the spaces of the patchwork of the foot path and telling himself that he would be first and not first in the weekly essay (Joyce 83).”

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford University Press, 2000.

Stephen’s competitive spirit and insecurity compared to his peers drives him to pour gobs of effort into the weekly essays. He goes on to have an encounter with Heron and his goons where they bully him over his opinion on who the greatest poet of prose is. Tennyson, who according to heron is simply a poet for common uneducated people, is the poet Stephen lists. This harkens back to the “Pull out his eyes, Apologize” rhyming tendency that Stephen has always had an affinity for.