Literature and Writing provide the underlying backbone of meaning that draws this whole text together. This theme plays a fundamental role in the lives of both the fictional Stephen and the real Joyce, even beyond the obvious fact that both of them are writers. The idea of Art as a calling becomes central to the eventual understanding of spirituality in the text, since observing and creating objects of beauty is a fundamental part of experiencing the life that Joyce describes. The role of the writer, as it appears here, is to shape language the way a craftsman might shape wood or clay. This alignment of literature to fine art is extremely important; through his work, Joyce attempts to demonstrate that the novel, a relatively young literary form, is as important and valid as any other form of art.
The Aristotle and Aquinas texts cited by Stephen in Chapter Five replace religious doctrine in his self-created spiritual system.
Stephen’s attempts to create a new identity through writing culminate in the journal entries at the end of the novel.