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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man


by James Joyce

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Spirituality 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.

Quote #1

The music passed in an instant, as the first bars of sudden music always did, over the fantastic fabrics of his mind, dissolving them painlessly and noiselessly as a sudden wave dissolves the sand-built turrets of children. Smiling at the trivial air he raised his eyes to the priest's face and, seeing in it a mirthless reflection of the sunken day, detached his hand slowly which had acquiesced faintly in the companionship. (4.2.17)

Here, Stephen starts to separate his personal spirituality from religion. The fact that the priest feels no joy in the sudden burst of music worries Stephen – and we realize that his aesthetic sense for beauty is alive again.

Quote #2

His heart trembled; his breath came faster and a wild spirit passed over his limbs as though he was soaring sunward. His heart trembled in an ecstasy of fear and his soul was in flight. His soul was soaring in an air beyond the world and the body he knew was purified in a breath and delivered of incertitude and made radiant and commingled with the element of the spirit. An ecstasy of flight made radiant his eyes and wild his breath and tremulous and wild and radiant his windswept limbs. (4.3.17)

Finally, we see Stephen actually "take off," as it were. The "wildness" that seizes him contrasts boldly with the stiff control and lack of emotion that characterized his piety; this is the joyous spiritual experience that Stephen has been seeking all along.

Quote #3

What were they now but cerements shaken from the body of death – the fear he had walked in night and day, the incertitude that had ringed him round, the shame that had abased him within and without – cerements, the linens of the grave? (4.3.19)

Stephen sheds the "cerements" of his former life. He gives names to the things we have seen him struggle with throughout the book – his fear, incertitude (uncertainty), and shame – many of which were cultivated by his religious faith.

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