A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
by James Joyce
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Transformation 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.
There was cold sunlight outside the window. He wondered if he would die. You could die just the same on a sunny day. He might die before his mother came. Then he would have a dead mass in the chapel like the way the fellows had told him it was when Little had died. All the fellows would be at the mass, dressed in black, all with sad faces. Wells too would be there but no fellow would look at him. The rector would be there in a cope of black and gold and there would be tall yellow candles on the altar and round the catafalque. And they would carry the coffin out of the chapel slowly and he would be buried in the little graveyard of the community off the main avenue of limes. And Wells would be sorry then for what he had done. And the bell would toll slowly. (1.2.80)
The first transformation that Stephen begins to understand his death. This vision of his own death is lacking in spiritual awareness; he doesn’t seem to comprehend the concept of death fully yet, which is understandable.
He wanted to meet in the real world the unsubstantial image which his soul so constantly beheld. […] They would meet quietly as if they had known each other and had made their tryst, perhaps at one of the gates or in some more secret place. They would be alone, surrounded by darkness and silence: and in that moment of supreme tenderness he would be transfigured. He would fade into something impalpable under her eyes and then in a moment he would be transfigured. Weakness and timidity and inexperience would fall from him in that magic moment. (2.1.12)
Sexual awakening is definitely an important transformative experience. Here, Stephen only understands sexual desire in an abstract, idealized way.
How foolish his aim had been! He had tried to build a break-water of order and elegance against the sordid tide of life without him and to dam up, by rules of conduct and active interest and new filial relations, the powerful recurrence of the tides within him. Useless. From without as from within the waters had flowed over his barriers: their tides began once more to jostle fiercely above the crumbled mole. (2.5.6)
This interesting quote indicates that Stephen cannot assert control over the internal "tides" that shape his life – what are these forces? Are they simply his own desires, or are they something outside of him? This is also another use of water as a symbol for Stephen’s interiority.