A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
How we cite our quotes:
Where was his boyhood now? Where was the soul that had hung back from her destiny, to brood alone upon the shame of her wounds and in her house of squalor and subterfuge to queen it in faded cerements and in wreaths that withered at the touch? Or where was he? (4.3.25)
Stephen’s "boyhood" is gone; those years of self-denial and guilt seem like a waste of time now. It’s interesting that he should associate these things with his boyhood – we wonder what his new incarnation is. Does this mean that he’s a man?
He was alone. He was unheeded, happy and near to the wild heart of life. He was alone and young and wilful and wildhearted, alone amid a waste of wild air and brackish waters and the sea-harvest of shells and tangle and veiled grey sunlight and gayclad lightclad figures of children and girls and voices childish and girlish in the air. (4.3.26)
Well, this doesn’t answer the question we just posed in the previous thought, but it does complicate it. Stephen asserts his youth and wildness, which we can contrast with the staid strictness of his mysterious "boyhood." The difference between these two terms is important but ambiguous. Perhaps during his boyhood, Stephen wasn’t actually young, despite his age…
– Ah, it's a scandalous shame for you, Stephen, said his mother, and you'll live to rue the day you set your foot in that place. I know how it has changed you. (5.1.7)
Mrs. Dedalus is under the false impression that university life has changed Stephen; while she’s undoubtedly right in some respects, we know that Stephen’s sense of purpose and newfound identity is what have really alienated him further from his home and family.