Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - post I

Stephen Dedalus is one of the two main characters in Ulysses and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man focuses on that character but at a much younger age. Bearing in mind he is 22 in Ulysses he is a school boy when he is introduced in this story.

Unlike Ulysses James Joyce seems to be sticking to a more easily readable style here with it much easier to create a picture in your mind of what is going on.

Bullet points between pages 1 - 90

* The story starts at a Jesuit school in Ireland and Stephen is homesick, bullied and struggling to enjoy his school time and after being pushed into a ditch becomes ill and ends up in the infirmary

* The sense of homesickness, loneliness and desperation to fit in and understand how to blend in and succeed in the school is tangible and well described by Joyce, who presumably must have experienced the same things

* He then goes home for Christmas and the meal is disturbed by a row between his father Simon and Dante some sort of family friend over politics, specifically the right or wrongs of priests using the pulpit as a place to recommend certain political parties

* The row between the protestant Dante, Stephens father, his great uncle and a friend Mr Casey, who has spent time in prison for his political views, breaks down as they row about a story told by Casey who recounts the time he spat in the eye of a lady heckling him after a speech.

* Casey then breaks down after saying that there should be no God in Ireland with tears in his eyes and cries for Parnell a politician who fought hard for autonomy and Home Rule

* The story then moves back to school and in a vivid passage Stephen is beaten for making up the story that his glasses broke accidentally despite the truth in his tale. The beating scars him mentally and he goes to the Rector to complain and as a result of that bravery is heralded as a hero by his classmates

* Things at home change and they move house and Stephen dislikes Dublin but there is a suggestion that political activities by his father have forced the change as much as financial cut backs

* He is told to stay in the Jesuit school and because of his friendship with a girl he comes in for another dose of bullying and seems to always be acting in the wrong way provoking more animosity

More tomorrow...

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