A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
How we cite our quotes:
The letters cut in the stained wood of the desk stared upon him, mocking his bodily weakness and futile enthusiasms and making him loathe himself for his own mad and filthy orgies. The spittle in his throat grew bitter and foul to swallow and the faint sickness climbed to his brain so that for a moment he closed his eyes and walked on in darkness. (2.4.13)
After seeing the eerie "Foetus" graffiti in the anatomy theatre, Stephen can’t block it out of his mind; it reminds him of his own dirty thoughts and acts. This is the first time (of many to come) that we see Stephen overwhelmed by guilt at his own sins, which indicates his rapidly evolving sense of individual responsibility.
He turned to appease the fierce longings of his heart before which everything else was idle and alien. He cared little that he was in mortal sin, that his life had grown to be a tissue of subterfuge and falsehood. Beside the savage desire within him to realize the enormities which he brooded on nothing was sacred. (2.5.8)
Stephen gives into his physical desires and impure thoughts – the guilt we saw earlier is absent here. What has changed inside him?
His blood was in revolt. He wandered up and down the dark slimy streets peering into the gloom of lanes and doorways, listening eagerly for any sound. He moaned to himself like some baffled prowling beast. He wanted to sin with another of his kind, to force another being to sin with him and to exult with her in sin. (2.5.10)
This is heavy-duty drama. We have to wonder- is this just a typical moment of sordid teenage lust, raised through Joyce’s extravagant prose into a moment of existential rebellion?