A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
How we cite our quotes:
It pained him that he did not know well what politics meant and that he did not know where the universe ended. He felt small and weak. (1.2.45)
Stephen’s intellectual curiosity is always at work. He is frustrated by his lack of understanding, but his capability for abstract thought simply isn’t developed enough to comprehend these giant concepts.
He returned to Mercedes and, as he brooded upon her image, a strange unrest crept into his blood. Sometimes a fever gathered within him and led him to rove alone in the evening along the quiet avenue. The peace of the gardens and the kindly lights in the windows poured a tender influence into his restless heart. The noise of children at play annoyed him and their silly voices made him feel, even more keenly than he had felt at Clongowes, that he was different from others. (2.1.12)
Even at this young age, Stephen feels his difference acutely. This is the beginning of his nocturnal wanderings, though at this point, they’re still pretty innocent. What is it that makes him different from the other children?
A vague dissatisfaction grew up within him as he looked on the quays and on the river and on the lowering skies and yet he continued to wander up and down day after day as if he really sought someone that eluded him. (2.2.3)
Deprived of the fresh air and sunshine of the countryside, Stephen grows more discontented. His dissatisfaction feeds upon the squalor of Dublin, suggesting that the urban space in this novel is often one of darkness, malcontent, and corruption.