A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
by James Joyce
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man The Home 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.
Then, bending to the left, he followed the lane which led up to his house. The faint dour stink of rotted cabbages came towards him from the kitchen gardens on the rising ground above the river. He smiled to think that it was this disorder, the misrule and confusion of his father's house and the stagnation of vegetable life, which was to win the day in his soul. (4.2.24)
Actually, the victory of "his father’s house" (note that he doesn’t say his house) is quite short-lived. The tension between affection and disgust in Stephen’s description of the house make it clear that his soul won’t be satisfied for long in these circumstances.
He waited for some moments, listening, before he too took up the air with them. He was listening with pain of spirit to the overtone of weariness behind their frail fresh innocent voices. Even before they set out on life's journey they seemed weary already of the way. (4.2.31)
The weariness Stephen’s little brothers and sisters feel, even as children, stems from the lack of stability and comfort in their lives. Unlike Stephen, the oldest and most privileged among them, we have the feeling that the other children never really knew anything but poverty and resignation at home.
He shook the sound out of his ears by an angry toss of his head and hurried on, stumbling through the mouldering offal, his heart already bitten by an ache of loathing and bitterness. His father's whistle, his mother's mutterings, the screech of an unseen maniac were to him now so many voices offending and threatening to humble the pride of his youth. He drove their echoes even out of his heart with an execration; but, as he walked down the avenue and felt the grey morning light falling about him through the dripping trees and smelt the strange wild smell of the wet leaves and bark, his soul was loosed of her miseries. (5.10)
Stephen’s relationship with his family and surroundings is at an all-time low. The ugliness and squalor of his home life are totally incompatible with his grandiose sense of artistic destiny, and we see already that his ultimate departure is inevitable.