A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Summary

Table of Contents

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Summary Chapter 1 Part 1

The novel begins with the childhood of Stephen Dedalus, a young boy growing up in Dublin, Ireland, where he attends Clongowes Wood College, a Jesuit school. Stephen, who is somewhere between six and nine years old, is a sensitive boy, smaller than the others, who is often teased and bullied. Nasty Roche, for example, teases him about his last name. Another boy, Wells, pushes him into a cesspool and later teases him for admitting he kisses his mother every night before he goes to bed. Stephen does not like the rough game of rugby football that is played at the college, and he prefers to be in the study hall. Even at this young age he feels the power of language, and is fascinated by the simple sentences in his spelling book. Stephen is also good at mathematics, which is taught by Father Arnall. But he would sooner be at home than in school, and he looks forward to the Christmas vacation when he will go home to his family in Bray. Just before the vacation he becomes sick and is taken to the infirmary, where he shares a room with a boy called Athy and is cared for by Brother Michael. During his stay in the infirmary, he hears of the death of Charles Parnell, an Irish patriot who campaigned for independence from Britain.

Chapter 1 Part 1 Analysis

The first section is an example of Joyce’s use of the stream-of-consciousness technique, which tries to capture the flow of a character’s thoughts, emotions and sense impressions as they happen, without the use of the intellect to order and make sense of them. In this case, since the protagonist Stephen is a young boy, there are many simple sentences, and the effect is sometimes choppy and disjointed, as one impression gives way to another, sometimes unrelated one. The style well captures the curiosity, vulnerability and bewilderment of a child as he learns about a world in which much does not make sense or cannot be understood.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Summary Chapter 1 Part 2

Vacation has arrived and it is Christmas dinner in the Dedalus household. Stephen sits at the table with his father, Simon Dedalus, his mother, his great-uncle Charles, his aunt, Dante Riordan, and a family friend, Mr. Casey. The family at this point is comfortably off, and there are servants to bring in the turkey and ham, which is to be followed by plum pudding. The conversation quickly becomes acrimonious as politics and religion are discussed. Mr. Dedalus says that priests should not interfere with politics, but Dante says they have a duty to tell their flock what is right and what is wrong. An argument ensues over Charles Parnell. Parnell had been involved in a divorce scandal and his political support had vanished as a result.

Simon Dedalus and Mr. Casey are stanch defenders of Parnell, and say that the church betrayed him, but Dante, who despises Parnell, says the church behaved correctly. The argument becomes fierce, despite the attempts of Uncle Charles and Mrs. Dedalus to keep the peace. Stephen’s father expresses his opposition to the Catholic church in Ireland, saying that the Irish are a “priestridden” race. But Dante replies that they should be proud of having many priests, since they are the representatives of God. She places God and religion before anything else. Mr. Casey shouts that they have had too much God in Ireland, and Dante screams at him that he is a blasphemer and then storms out of the room. Stephen is terrified, and his father is on the brink of tears.

Chapter 1 Part 2 Analysis

The family quarrel is seen through Stephen’s eyes. As a young boy, he does not know what the argument is about, but it makes a deep impression on him. The incident shows how important politics and religion were in the life of Ireland at the time. The movement for independence from Britain was gathering force, and Charles Parnell aroused fierce passions, both for and against. His aim was Home Rule, that is, the establishment of an Irish legislature in Dublin, with responsibility for domestic affairs. The incident the Dedalus family argues over began in November, 1890, when Parnell was named in a divorce suit. The revelation that Parnell had committed adultery cost him dear in Catholic Ireland. He lost his position as head of the Irish Party in the British parliament, voted out by his colleagues. For nine months, Parnell struggled to maintain his support in Ireland, but he was opposed by the Roman Catholic clergy. His efforts ended when in October, 1891, he died.

Later in the novel, Stephen will have to decide where he stands on questions relating to politics and Ireland, so this section is important thematically. It represents one of the things that Stephen, when he has more maturity, decides he must rebel against.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Summary Chapter 1 Part 3

At the school, five of the older boys run away. Rumors circulate among the other boys that the runaways stole money from the rector’s room (the rector is the equivalent of the school principal), or that they drank the alter wine in the sacristy. Other rumors suggest that the boys were caught doing some kind of homosexual activity. Two of the boys are to be flogged; three of them are given the choice of being flogged or being expelled. Two opt for expulsion; the third, named Corrigan, chooses to be flogged. Stephen wonders what the pain from a beating would feel like according to the different implements used-the “pandybat” (a leather strap) and a cane.

Stephen is in a Latin class with Father Arnall. The Father is in a bad mood because he considers that the boys have produced very poor work. He makes one boy, Fleming, kneel in the middle of the class, saying that he is one of the most idle boys he ever met.

Father Dolan, a prefect, enters the classroom. He is carrying a pandybat and is ready to thrash some boys. He interrogates Fleming and then gives him six strokes of the pandybat on the palm of each hand. Dolan then comes across Stephen, who is not writing like the others. This is because his glasses were broken a few days’ previously, and Father Arnall exempted him from work. But Dolan believes Stephen is lazy and is just trying to evade work. He gives him one extremely painful stroke on each hand, and then makes the weeping Stephen kneel.

Stephen feels keenly the injustice of the punishment. He had written home that morning, asking his father to send him new glasses, and Father Arnall had excused him from work. The other boys encourage him to report Dolan to the rector. After supper, Stephen plucks up his courage and knocks on the door of the rector’s office. The rector receives him kindly and listens to his complaint. He accepts Stephen’s explanation, says the punishment was a mistake, and promises to have a word with Dolan and stop him from beating Stephen the next day, as Dolan had threatened. When Stephen returns he is cheered by the other boys after he tells them what happened.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Summary Chapter 2

Stephen is spending the summer at Blackrock, a suburb south of Dublin where the family had moved. He spends a lot of time with Uncle Charles, accompanying him on many errands. He runs in the park under the tuition of a coach, Mike Flynn, an old friend of Stephen’s father. On their way home they would often visit the chapel, where Charles would pray. On Sundays, Stephen, his father and Charles take long walks. Stephen has the evenings to himself, during which he reads Alexandre Dumas’ adventure novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, which stirs his imagination. He befriends a boy named Aubrey Mills and together they found a gang which gets up to some mild mischief in the neighborhood.

Stephen does not return to Clongowes in the fall, and he knows this is connected with his father’s declining fortunes. The family moves from the comfort of Blackrock to another house that feels cheerless to Stephen. He has more time to himself, and wanders down to the docks and quays. He visits relatives with his mother, but he feels angry at the change of family circumstances, which has re-shaped his world. At his aunt’s house, he encounters a girl called Emma, and meets her again at a children’s party. He is entranced by her in a romantic way. They return home on the same tram, and the next day he writes a poem to her.

Stephen’s father arranges for him to attend Belvedere College in north Dublin, another Jesuit school. At the end of his second year at Belvedere, he appears in a school play. During the gymnastic performance that precedes the play, Stephen wanders outside, where he meets a friend, Vincent Heron, and another boy called Wallis. The boys tease Stephen about the presence of Emma at the theater. It appears that Stephen has not seen her for two years, but he has thought about her a lot. Heron’s insistence that he admit the presence of his imagined sweetheart leads Stephen to recall some events from the past when he was also pressured by others to admit to something. He remembers how in his first term Mr. Tate, the English teacher, accused him of writing a sentence in an essay that contravened the Jesuit interpretation of truth. Mr. Tate called it heresy, and Stephen was forced to amend his statement. A few nights later he had got into an argument with three of his classmates about their favorite writers. Stephen’s choice of Lord Byron arouses the derision of the other boys. They grab him and beat him, trying to make him admit that Byron was not a good poet. After this humiliation he returns to the theater and acts his part in the play. He emerges afterwards in an excited state, and rushes past his father and other people he knows. He walks fast without even knowing where he is going, until finally he calms down and walks back.

In the next incident, Stephen travels by train with his father to Cork, where Mr. Dedalus had lived in his youth. They are going to Cork because Stephen’s father’s property is to be sold by auction. They stay at the Victoria Hotel, and visit Queen’s College, where Simon Dedalus inquires after his old friends, only to find that many are dead. He searches for his own desk, in which he carved his initials. Stephen is restless and bored by the visit. His father tells him stories he has heard before and gives him advice, telling him always to mix with gentlemen. Meanwhile, Stephen is living a vivid imaginative life that makes it hard for him to relate to the real world. His memory of his childhood is fading. In the evening, after the property is sold, he and his father go from bar to bar, meeting and chatting with all Simon’s old friends. They drink to the memories of the past. Stephen feels separate from it all. He feels he is merely drifting through life.

At Belvedere, Stephen wins some academic prizes. He buys gifts for his family and friends and lends out money. He tries to draw up some rules of life for himself, but when the money runs out, all his plans collapse. He feels isolated from his family, and that his life is a tissue of falsehood. He takes once again to wandering around the streets alone in the evening. He finds himself in a squalid area of the city, where the brothels are, and he has his first sexual experience with one of the prostitutes.

Chapter 2 Analysis

Several of the main themes of the novel appear in this chapter. Stephen emerges as an earnest young man, in some ways a model student at school, and certainly academically gifted. But there are tremendous forces building up inside him, for romance, sex, artistic creation and independence from the expectations of others. As yet, he does not know how to deal with all of them.

There are two opposite images of women presented in this chapter. Emma is the girl who inspires his mystical daydreams although she never appears directly in the novel. She is seen solely through Stephen’s imagination. As an ideal feminine image, Emma is like the figure of Mercedes, the long-suffering love of the hero Dantes in The Count of Monte Cristo, who also becomes rooted in Stephen’s imaginative life. On the other hand, there is the unnamed prostitute with whom Stephen has his first experience of sex. If Emma and Mercedes represent the ideal, the prostitute is an embodiment of a real, flesh-and-blood woman, and Stephen’s sexual adventure with her (and with others in the next chapter), will cause him great feelings of guilt.

Like many a teenage boy, Stephen is not sure of what direction he is to take in life. His father and his masters at school urge him to become a gentleman and a good Catholic. At Belvedere, he is exposed to the cultural atmosphere of the times, in which a number of organizations were being founded with the intention of reviving the Irish language and Irish tradition. Some people tell him he should become part of this revival. Others advise him to work hard to restore his father’s worldly fortunes. But all those voices ring hollow for Stephen. They are all part of the pressure to conform to the expectations of others, a theme which is also noticeable in the episodes where others try to force him to admit to something that he does not believe in.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Summary Chapter 3

At the age of sixteen, Stephen makes many visits to prostitutes. He believes that he is in danger of eternal damnation for these mortal sins. He does not bother to pray for forgiveness, believing that his sin is too great for him to offer any false repentance or remorse to God. But at the college he has a reputation for piety, which has resulted in him being named a prefect. On Saturdays he leads a group of boys that meets in the chapel to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. But in his own mind he has sunk to a low spiritual level, on the principle that a person who breaks one commandment is guilty of breaking them all.

Stephen attends an annual retreat at the college in honor of the sixteenth century Jesuit saint, St. Francis Xavier. He sits on the front bench of the chapel to listen to Father Arnall’s introduction to the retreat, in which he says they will concentrate on the four last things from the Catholic catechism: death, judgment, hell and heaven. He reminds the boys that there is only one thing that is important in life: the salvation of the soul. Whoever remembers the last things will live a good life and die a good death.

That night Stephen is deeply conscious of his own state of sin, and he feels in a fog of despair. The next day Father Arnall lectures on death and judgment. He speaks of how God will reward the good and punish the wicked. There will be a day of judgment and no human being can avoid it. Stephen feels all this keenly, as if every word of the lecture is aimed at him. As he walks home he hears a girl’s laughter, and shame floods his being. He is ashamed of the sins of lust he has committed, but he imagines himself with Emma, being forgiven by the Blessed Virgin.

The next day Father Arnall tells the boys about the creation story: Adam and Eve sinned and were driven out of the Garden of Eden, but God promised that he would send a redeemer. This was Jesus, born of Mary, who preached the new gospel and was crucified. Then Father Arnall gives a long exposition of the nature of hell in which he explains every detail of what the damned souls endure. Hell is a prison the walls of which are said to be four thousand miles thick. The damned souls lie in darkness, since the fires of hell give heat but no light. There is an awful stench. But the worst torment is fire, which burns forever but does not destroy the things it burns. The fire afflicts the damned not only from without but also from within. Their blood and their organs boil. The fire is of great intensity, as it is an instrument of the wrath of God. The torments of hell are also increased by the company the damned souls keep. They yell and scream at each other; there is no sense of humanity. Finally, the damned are reproached and mocked by horrible devils.

Stephen is deeply affected by the sermon. He again feels that every word is aimed at him and feels almost in hell already. He appeals to the Virgin to save him. He promises to repent. But when the time comes for confession in the college chapel, he cannot bring himself to go. Instead, he plans to go to confession in another chapel, somewhere away from the college, where he is not known.

The next day, Father Arnall considers the spiritual torments of hell. The greatest of these is the pain of loss, the knowledge that the damned are completely cut off from the divine light. The second pain is the pain of conscience, a perpetual remorse for sins committed. The next spiritual pain is the pain of extension, in which all the torments are experienced at the same time. There is also the pain of intensity, because unlike on earth, in hell there is nothing to soften the pains. There are no comforts, because everything that is a comfort on earth (company, for example, or knowledge) is a torment in hell. The crowning torture in hell is the eternity of it. It lasts forever, in a way that the human imagination can barely grasp. Father Arnall concludes with a prayer for the repentance of sins, because God is merciful and does not wish the eternal death of the sinner.

Stephen waits until everyone has gone and then repeats the act of contrition with fervor. He goes to his room and prays, bitterly conscious of what he believes are his terrible sins. He is so distressed he goes to the washstand and vomits. In the evening he walks into town, seeking a chapel where he can make confession to a priest and be absolved from his sins. Finally making his confession to an understanding old priest who comforts him, he feels a tremendous sense of relief. He believes he is once more living in the light of God’s grace.

Chapter 3 Analysis

This chapter shows how firmly Stephen is held in the grip of the Catholic religion in which he was raised. His belief that he is in a state of mortal sin following his visits to the Dublin brothels tears him apart, and Father Arnall’s terrifying sermons on hell, which are based on old Jesuit texts, are enough to send him to confession. He does not yet have the maturity to seriously question the basic framework of Catholicism, as interpreted by the Jesuits who are in charge of his education.

In spite of this, however, there are some signs of Stephen’s growing independence of mind. He has acquired a reputation for asking his masters awkward questions about doctrinal matters. Although he does this only so he can feel more deeply his own damnation, his questions suggest the germ of a critical attitude to some of the more esoteric aspects of Catholic doctrine.

It is clear from this chapter that Stephen is set apart from most of the other boys. He responds intensely to the visual imagery in the sermon on hell, quite unlike the other boys, who do not take it so seriously. (“I suppose he rubbed it into you well,” says one, of Father Arnall’s sermon). By the sensitivity and depth of his response, Stephen shows himself capable of great imaginative experience. His own state of mind is almost as tormented as those of the damned souls he has just been hearing about.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Summary Chapter 4

Stephen now becomes extremely pious, praying zealously and follows all the devotional rituals of the Church. He reads many devotional books, and feels his soul being enriched with spiritual knowledge. He sees divine meaning in everything. Also, he rigorously disciplines his senses, lest he sin again. He walks with his eyes downcast, and he avoids looking at women. He does not sing or whistle; he even seeks out disagreeable odors in order to mortify his sense of smell. He observes all the fasts of the church, and tries to divert his mind from the tastes of foods. He also deliberately sits in uncomfortable positions, and stays on his knees through most of the mass, as well as performing other actions that mortify the sense of touch. Under this regime, he feels no desire to commit a mortal sin, but he still feels moments of anger at trivial things.

But in spite of all his efforts, he starts to feel a sense of spiritual dryness, and he has lustful thoughts again. He resists temptation, however, and begins to understand how the saints had to struggle to maintain their state of grace. He believes he has successfully amended his life.

The director calls Stephen to his office and asks him whether he has ever felt that he has a vocation to join the Jesuit order. He has noted Stephen’s great piety and the example he sets to others. Stephen replies that he has sometimes thought of it. The director responds that to be called to the order is the greatest honor that God can bestow upon a man. Stephen admits to himself that he has often thought of himself in the role of priest, and now he feels attracted by the lure of secret knowledge and secret power. He would know things that were hidden from others, and would know the sins of others, whispered to him in the confessional.

The director tells him he must be quite sure that becoming a priest is his vocation. It would be terrible to make a wrong choice. As he leaves the director’s office, Stephen has doubts as he considers the grave, ordered and passionless life that would await him as a priest. Something in him resists the idea, and as he walks home he realizes that he will never be a priest. He must learn his own wisdom through making his own way in the world.

When he gets home it is early evening. His parents are out and his brothers and sisters say they have gone to look at a house, since they will be moving again. Stephens reflects on how weary his siblings seem, even as they gather around the fireplace and sing many songs. They seem weary of life even before they have set out on their life’s journey.

In the next incident, as his father inquires about a place for him at University College, Dublin, Stephen restlessly walks the streets. His faith has faded, he has turned down an opportunity to become a priest, but he still does not know what his destiny is to be. He heads for the mouth of the river and the sea, and comes across some of his friends playing and diving. They hail him, but he takes little notice of them. He feels that he is on the brink of some kind of revelation that may reveal his life’s purpose to him. His soul soars and he feels a sense of ecstasy, and in that moment he knows that his destiny is to be an artist, creating something new out of the power and freedom of his soul. He knows he has left his boyhood behind. He wades into the river and sees a girl standing ahead of him, alone and still, gazing out to sea. He contemplates her, in a state of silent joy. Then he turns away, striding out to the sea, singing wildly. He knows he has found his vocation. He walks for a long time and then heads back to the shore to rest. His soul still throbs in ecstasy. A new world has been opened up to him.

Chapter 4 Analysis

This is the crucial chapter in which Stephen’s vocation is revealed to him. In the early part of the chapter, his excessive devotion and religious zeal is almost painful to read. It is obvious that he will be unable to maintain it, and it seems to suppress life rather than enhance it. Stephen is a boy of such intense nature that he does not undertake anything lightly. It is quite in keeping with his temperament that following his confession and the transcendent peace it produced for him, he should pursue his religious duties to excess. But in doing so he merely stifles his inner instincts, the yearning for independence and creativity that will surge up in him again later in the chapter.

In this chapter Stephen not only rejects a life in the Church, he also moves away from his family, in particular his mother. She is a pious woman and does not support the idea of Stephen attending the University College. Stephen resents her opposition, and even when his anger fades, he “was made aware dimly and without regret of a first noiseless sundering of their lives.”

Stephen now regards family and church as part of the network of social forces that had tried throughout his boyhood to shape him and make him serve their own ends. He realizes for the first time the significance of his last name, Dedalus. In Greek mythology, Daedalus was the father of Icarus, and he made wings for him and his son to escape from the Cretean labyrinth that he had created to house the Minotaur, a half-man and half-bull creature. In Greek, the name “Daedalus” means “cunning artificer.” This is what Stephen is to become, an artist and creator who is able to escape the labyrinth made up of family, church and country (Ireland), in which he has been wandering. He must reject everything to forge his own destiny.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Summary Chapter 5

Stephen is now a student at University College. As the chapter begins, Stephen’s parents are impatient with him because he is always going out late to his lectures. In turn, Stephen is impatient with them. He goes out and walks across the city to the college. At the college, Stephen is most interested in studying St. Thomas Aquinas, the medieval Christian theologian, and the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle. He is particularly interested in the essence of beauty and is trying to create his own aesthetic philosophy. But he has little patience for sitting in lectures, and he also gets a reputation for being antisocial and self-absorbed. He is formal in his speech with others, as they are with him, but he does form a friendship with Davin, a student from a peasant family, who is steeped in the history and culture of Ireland. The other students regard Davin as a Fenian, that is, a member of a brotherhood dedicated to using physical force to remove the British from Ireland. Davin confides in Stephen, telling him that one night when he was walking home on a lonely road, having missed the last train, a woman tried to entice him into her house to stay the night, but he refused.

Stephen enters the physics lecture theatre, and talks to the dean of studies, an Englishman, who is lighting the fire. Stephen does not find the man attractive. He is old but has no air of wisdom or saintliness about him. For a few minutes they discuss the nature of beauty, with reference to Aquinas. But Stephen feels a kind of contempt for the dean, and is very aware that the man is English, a convert to the Jesuits. After this encounter, Stephen attends a physics lecture, during which some of the students make facetious remarks. When the lecture ends, Stephen finds himself involved in a political discussion. A student named MacCann wants Stephen to sign a petition calling for world peace. The idealistic MacCann has a range of progressive political views. He supports disarmament and a system of arbitration in cases of international disputes, and he believes in universal brotherhood, as does another student, Temple. Temple is a socialist and believes socialism was founded by an Irishman. Stephen professes a lack of interest in political matters and declines to sign the petition.

Temple, Stephen’s friend Cranly and Stephen then go to watch a ball game. But Temple still wants to talk politics, and Cranly becomes impatient with him. Temple leaves, and Cranly and Stephen are joined by another student, Lynch. Davin, hearing that Stephen did not sign the petition, reproaches him, telling Stephen that he is always alone. For his part, Davin regards himself as an Irish nationalist, which Stephen sneers at, leading Davin to wonder whether Stephen is Irish at all. He asks him why he did not bother to learn the Irish language, and dropped out of the Irish class after one lesson. He wants Stephen to be Irish, to be one of them. But Stephen has a low opinion of Ireland. He says his ancestors abandoned their own language and adopted another (English), and allowed themselves to be dominated by foreigners. Ireland also has a history of turning against its own leaders, Stephen says. Davin walks away sadly.

Stephen then walks with Lynch and explains to him the aesthetic theory he has developed. He explains what he thinks Aristotle meant by pity and terror, the emotions that Aristotle claimed were aroused in the audience by tragic drama. Then he explains his definition of beauty and relates it to art, by the use of concepts drawn from Aristotle and Aquinas. Lynch is a bit out of his depth and keeps making facetious interjections. The two men are briefly joined by a fat student named Donovan, who tells them the results of the college exams. Then Stephen resumes his lecture to Lynch as the two continue to walk together. Stephen explains what Aquinas meant by the three things that are needed for beauty: wholeness, harmony and radiance. He also explains his theory that art progresses through three forms: the lyrical form, which is a simple gesture of emotion; the epic form, in which the narrative is no longer purely personal; and the dramatic form, in which the personality of the artist is no longer visible.

It starts to rain, and Stephen and Lynch join a group of students sheltering under the arcade of the library of the Irish academy. Emma is there, standing silently. Stephen does not speak to her, and as the rain stops and she walks away, he wonders whether he has been harsh in his thoughts about her. The last time he saw her he thought she was flirting with Father Moran.

The following morning he recalls times he has spent in the past with Emma and how they then moved apart from each other. His memories of her make him angry, and he writes a poem to her in the form of a villanelle, in which he presents her as a temptress. He considers sending the poem to her, but decides against it.

On a March evening, Stephen stands on the steps of the library watching a flock of birds. He wonders what kind of birds they are and decides they are swallows who have come back from the south. He makes a parallel between the migrating swallows and his own life, for he too must go away. Like them, he must always be ready to leave his home. He remembers a relevant snatch of poetry (it’s a line from a play by W. B. Yeats), and this brings him joy. It also leads him to remember the night the play opened at the national theatre (this occurred in 1899). He was in the balcony, and the play was badly received by the audience.

Stephen then goes into the library, where he finds his friends, Cranly and Dixon. They decide to leave and walk in the park, after which they leave Cranly. Dixon and Stephen walk on and encounter a group of students, including Temple. They exchange banter for a while. Emma emerges from the library, and Cranly greets her, but she does not stop to speak. Stephen feels a little jealous, and wonders briefly whether there is anything between Emma and Cranly. Some minutes later he feels a kind of joy at seeing Emma, although he does not know the cause. He walks away, trying to dismiss her from his mind, and returns to the group of students, which is joined by a student named Glynn. They all argue about the fate of children who die unbaptized.

Cranly and Stephen then walk together. Stephen confides in Cranly that his mother wants him to attend Easter church services, but he has lost his faith in religion and does not want to go. He and his mother have quarreled about it. Cranly advises him to go to the service, because the love of a mother is more important, and more real, than anything else. Cranly probes his friend about his religious faith, discovering that Stephen has not lost it entirely. But Stephen has his thoughts on other matters. He tells Cranly that his calling as an artist will lead him away from the college. He can not serve anything that he no longer believes in, whether it is family, church or nation. He plans to express himself through art as freely as he can, and he knows he will have to go into exile to do it. Cranly warns him that his choice may lead to great loneliness, but Stephen says he will take the risk.

The last few pages of the novel switch to a first person narration, in the form of diary entries written by Stephen. Over a period of just over a month, Stephen records his thoughts and impressions of daily events, as well as two of his dreams. His diary reveals that he still has an interest in the mysterious Emma, and on one occasion he meets her and they talk for a few minutes. He tells her of his artistic plans, and decides afterwards that he likes her. He also writes of his desire to create new life through art, and the journal ends on this note, as he prays to Daedalus, the mythological father of Icarus, to stand him in good stead as he forges his own artistic path.

Chapter 5 Analysis

The final chapter gives a vivid portrait not only of Stephen’s mind, but also of student life at University College, Dublin, at the turn of the century. As with the earlier chapters, much of the detail is autobiographical, since James Joyce himself attended the college and graduated in 1902.

This chapter inaugurates the third phase of Stephen’s growth, corresponding to the third college he attends. He is now ready to become his own man and to forge his own path in life. In this chapter, Stephen inexorably moves away from the three elements that were integral to his early life: family, church, and country. His separation from his family is shown early in the chapter. The family has sunk into poverty, and survives only by pawning items. His father speaks insultingly of him as a “lazy bitch” and his mother complains that the University College has changed him for the worse. But Stephen is so alienated from them that he just laughs it off; he doesn’t bother to argue. Later, when he meets his father in a cigar shop, it is clear that his father has no understanding of the man his son has become: he suggests that Stephen study law and join the rowing club. Thus does Stephen pass “beyond the sentries who had stood guard during his boyhood, and had sought to keep him among them that he might be subject to them and serve their ends” (p. 178).

It is significant that the novel ends in the first person, told through Stephen’s diary entries. This is the first time he appears in the novel as “I”; up to that point he had always been presented in the third person, by a narrator. But now, Stephen is ready to tell his story himself, to be a creator of his own path, not a follower of the paths of others.

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