A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
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He would follow a devious course up and down the streets, circling always nearer and nearer in a tremor of fear and joy, until his feet led him suddenly round a dark corner. The whores would be just coming out of their houses making ready for the night, yawning lazily after their sleep and settling the hairpins in their clusters of hair. He would pass by them calmly waiting for a sudden movement of his own will or a sudden call to his sin-loving soul from their soft perfumed flesh. (3.1.2)
Stephen has gone from guilty schoolboy to "sin-loving" man unbelievably fast. One wonders if he’s actually an unrepentant sinner, or if he is subconsciously putting his guilt out of his mind and saving it for later.
In the silence their dark fire kindled the dusk into a tawny glow. Stephen's heart had withered up like a flower of the desert that feels the simoom coming from afar. (3.1.20)
That "later" we just mentioned in the last thought? Turns out to be now. At the news of the religious retreat, Stephen knows that some kind of reckoning is coming. This confirms our suspicion that his guilty conscience has been around all along – it was just hiding for a while.
His soul was fattening and congealing into a gross grease, plunging ever deeper in its dull fear into a sombre threatening dusk while the body that was his stood, listless and dishonoured, gazing out of darkened eyes, helpless, perturbed, and human for a bovine god to stare upon. (3.2.8)
The awareness of Stephen’s sins and his "dishonoured" body cause this moment of dull horror. He begins to realize that it may be too late for his soul to ever recover.