Portrait of the Artist as a young man

“I am a catholic as my father was and his father before him and his father before him again when we gave up our lives rather than sell our faith.” (27)

“And she did not like him to play with Eileen because Eileen was a protestant and when she was young she knew children that used to play with protestants and the protestants used to make fun of the litany of the Blessed Virgin. (28)

The world in which Stephen is growing up is one centered on religion, from his school life and even his family life is dictated by religious ideology. It is also a subject of great debate both within the Catholics themselves as seen at Christmas, or the Catholic attitudes towards non-Catholics.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Childhood

“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.”

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

This line to me is really, really eye-catching. It really brings the reader back to the feeling of being a child and wishing you could be older, stronger, etc., which is an obviously important detail when you’re reading Stephen’s story.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Joyce Treatment of Childhood Commonplace

“And she did not like him to play with Eileen because Eileen was a protestant and when she was young she knew children that used to play with protestants and the protestants used to make fun of the litany of the Blessed Virgin. Tower of Ivory, they used to say, House of Gold! How could a woman be a tower of ivory or a house of gold? Who was right then?”

James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, ed. Jeri Johnson (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000),pg 29.

Within this quote Joyce treats Stephen’s ignorance on religious intolerance as a show of his innocence. It seems as a showcase of how Joyce wishes to frame the mindset of a child like Stephen where these notions of difference are meaningless to children, as if this intolerance of not being friends with someone due to a difference of religion is a learned behavior not an innate one. Thus Stephen understands the reason why Dante does not like Eileen but not the intention of it, which is a interesting way to frame such an understanding of childhood.

“A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” by James Joyce Commonplace-Book Entry: Childhood Magic of Christmas Decorations

“There were coloured lanterns in the hall of his father’s house and ropes of green branches. There were holly and ivy round the pierglass and holly and ivy, green and red, twined round the chandeliers. There were red holly and green ivy round the old portraits on the walls. Holly and ivy for him and for Christmas. Lovely…”

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford University Press Inc., 2000, page 16.

I do not know if this passage in particular is from a dream or from a scenario that Stephen is wishfully thinking about in his head based on past experiences, but it seems so magical and exciting as a child to come home for the first day of winter break and seeing your house already decorated for the holidays. By Stephen focusing on the holly and ivy that are put up around certain areas of the house, it made me realize that part of what makes the holidays so special is seeing the house decorated in the same way that it always is, with the same decorations in the same spots that they are always put up, which gives everyone such a unique, but shared sense of familiarity, since each family’s way of decorating is different, but it is always one of the first signs that the holidays are approaching. Stephen’s way of describing the holly and ivy around his family’s house, with their specific placements, colors, and calling them lovely gives me the sense that he likes to observe and pay attention to little details, and also thinks that the little, simple things in life are beautiful, which I think are good traits for a child who is going to become an artist to have.

Commonplace-Book Entry: “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” by James Joyce, Childhood Innocence

“He felt the touch of the prefect’s fingers as they had steadied his hand and at first he had thought he was going to shake hands with him because the fingers were soft and firm: but then in an instant he had heard the swish of the soutane sleeve and the crash.”

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford University Press Inc., 2000, page 43.

I thought that it was interesting that Stephen thought that Father Dolan was going to do something nice and polite in his gesture even though he had just seen what he had done to Fleming previously and knew that he was going to get hit as well. This makes me think that Stephen seems to always perceive adults in his life as kind, and I feel that this is perhaps because, at least up to this age, that every adult seems to have treated him kindly, such as those in his family, or maybe his soft, firm hands reminds him of someone that was kind to him, such as his father. Maybe this is also because of his childhood innocence, as he is a very timid child who seems to think more fondly of adults like his mother over his peers, who he tends to judge.

Joyce’s Portrait of Childhood

“It pained him that he did not know well what politics meant and that he did not he did not know where the universe ended. 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” (13).

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

Stephen doesn’t know the answers to his questions about the world, which makes him feel naive and immature. He not only looks forward to Christmas because he gets to see his mother, he looks forward to the future because he desperately wants to grow up. This is ironic because he misses his parents while away at school, like any normal child, but also yearns to be a man.

Portrait: Too Young to Contemplate Existence?

“Stephen Dedalus is my name,

Ireland is my nation,

Clongowes is my dwellingplace

And heaven my expectation

… That was he: and he read down the page again. What was after the universe? Nothing(Joyce 12).

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford University Press, 2000. Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Jeri Johnson

 

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: Childhood

“He still tried to think what was the right answer. Was it right to kiss his mother or wrong to kiss his mother? What did that mean, to kiss? 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 on his cheek; her lips were soft and they wetted his cheeks; and they made a tiny little noise: kiss. Why did people do that with their two faces?”

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford University Press, 2008, page 11.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Childhood

“It pained him well that he did not know well what politics meant and that he did not know where the universe ended.”

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford University Press, 2008, page 13.