A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
by James Joyce
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Identity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Section.Paragraph). Within each chapter you will find unnumbered sections. These sections are separated by asterisks; in our citations, we’ve numbered these sections for simplicity’s sake.
he had heard about him the constant voices of his father and of his masters, urging him to be a gentleman above all things and urging him to be a good catholic above all things […] When the gymnasium had been opened he had heard another voice urging him to be strong and manly and healthy and when the movement towards national revival had begun to be felt in the college yet another voice had bidden him be true to his country and help to raise up her language and tradition. In the profane world […] a worldly voice would bid him raise up his father's fallen state by his labours and, meanwhile, the voice of his school comrades urged him to be a decent fellow, to shield others from blame or to beg them off and to do his best to get free days for the school. (2.3.42)
Stephen’s response to all of these voices is that he prefers his own company, and he tries to ignore these nagging requests that sound so "hollow" and meaningless to him. However, at this point, Stephen still doesn’t know what he should pursue, and what his true identity is.
– I am Stephen Dedalus. I am walking beside my father whose name is Simon Dedalus. We are in Cork, in Ireland. Cork is a city. Our room is in the Victoria Hotel. Victoria and Stephen and Simon. Simon and Stephen and Victoria. Names. (2.4.16)
As in the list written on the flyleaf of his geography book, Stephen tries to ground himself via his geographic location; this time after the nightmarish realization of his sinfulness. However, like the last time, simply knowing names is not enough – without comprehension or significance, names mean nothing.
Could it be that he, Stephen Dedalus, had done those things? His conscience sighed in answer. Yes, he had done them, secretly, filthily, time after time, and, hardened in sinful impenitence, he had dared to wear the mask of holiness before the tabernacle itself while his soul within was a living mass of corruption. How came it that God had not struck him dead? The leprous company of his sins closed about him, breathing upon him, bending over him from all sides. (3.2.67)
Stephen feels as though he can’t identify with his sinful self. His identity throughout this section has been interestingly fractured, as though the sinning nighttime Stephen was a different being from his conscientious daytime Stephen – now, however, he is forced to admit that they are one and the same.