A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
by James Joyce
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Color plays a substantial role in Chapter One – the colors green and maroon are associated with Parnell and Michael Davitt, two leaders of the Irish nationalist movement. Though the two colors seem to be in harmony at first, Stephen remembers Aunt Dante cutting the green velvet off and telling him that Parnell is a bad man. This confusing episode, and the arguments between Dante and Stephen’s father that follow, represent "politics" to him at this stage of childhood. To Stephen, the two colors represent conflict and, when Fleming colors a world map with green and maroon (a coincidence), Stephen wonders "which was right, to be for the green or for the maroon." We also see the red and white teams in the Wars of the Roses-themed math competition. Again, color represents conflict and opposition. Though it’s a symbol that doesn’t come up as obviously in the rest of the text, it highlights the idea of visually representing an ideological conflict, which is very important to Stephen as a child because of his limited understanding of those abstract differences.