Study Guide

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Summary

By James Joyce

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Summary

To be frank, there’s not a whole lot of conventional "plot" in Portrait of the Artist. An unforgiving reader might just snort and say there’s none, but we prefer the term "plot-challenged." What the book does contain, however, is an intense moment-to-moment narration of the life of its main character, Stephen Dedalus, from early childhood to adulthood (approximately ages 5 to 20 – we don’t know exactly, but that’s our educated guess). Basically, Joyce takes us through the everyday events, small and large, of one boy’s life in early 20th century Dublin.

So here’s the quick rundown. The novel drops us straight into Stephen’s early home life; he lives with his mother, father, Aunt Dante, and Uncle Charles. He leaves for a Jesuit boarding school early in the chapter, and we see him struggle with schoolmates and teachers there. He returns after a short and unhappy time away from home. But all is not sunshine and roses at home, either, and his family’s financial situation steadily worsens throughout the book. They run out of money for boarding school, and Stephen is sent to a local Jesuit school, Belvedere College (these are actually the schools that Joyce himself attended!).

While at Belvedere, Stephen gains a reputation for being smart and very serious. He cultivates a crush on a girl and writes a poem for her, but he doesn’t know how to act around her – sound familiar? Stephen grows more and more dissatisfied with the condition of his life, and his feelings are made worse by the fact that his father sinks deeper and deeper into alcoholism and a kind of pathetic nostalgia.

Stephen and his father visit Cork, Mr. D’s hometown, to settle some business matters, and Stephen is sickened by how sad his father’s life is. When they return to Dublin, Stephen uses some prize money he earned from writing to try and make their lives happier, but when it runs out, he falls into a slump. He gives into his fledgling physical lust and loses his sexual innocence to a Dublin prostitute.

After a short period of bodily indulgence (and guilt), Stephen attends a religious retreat at his school. One of his old teachers from Clongowes, Father Arnall, is the guest of honor. Father Arnall delivers a searing, seemingly endless series of sermons about death, hell, and punishment. Stephen is horrified by his own sins and is certain he’s going to suffer the unspeakable torments of hell. He immerses himself in strict Catholicism to try and avoid this fate. His religious period takes over all aspects of his life, from his senses to his emotions. However, when he faces the decision to join the priesthood, Stephen decides that he’s not cut out for monastic life. He hopes to go to university instead; in this moment, he turns away from religion in general. The end of Chapter Four is perhaps one of the most famous moments in the book. Stephen goes to the river and sees a beautiful young girl, who reminds him of a wild seabird. He is astounded by the beauty of the moment and chooses to devote his life to creating art.

As a student at University College, Dublin, Stephen feels more and more alienated from his family and especially from Ireland. He has a few good friends like Davin, Lynch, and Cranly, with whom he can discuss at least some of his theories and troubles. It becomes more and more apparent, however, that Stephen must leave Ireland in order to discover his vocation. His classmates are all into Irish nationalism, but Stephen doesn’t share their beliefs. He openly admits to his disenchantment with the Irish cause and the Catholic Church. We witness Stephen alternately argue and explain himself with his school friends, who can’t all understand why he feels the need to revolt against his country, home, and religion. In the end, we see Stephen prepare for his departure from Ireland, hoping that this self-imposed exile will allow him to truly experience life.

  • Chapter 1

    • So, this chapter is more than a little confusing, but just pay attention and stick with it, because it’s interesting – after all, we’re basically hearing everything that goes on inside a little kid’s head. Even if it doesn’t always seem to make a ton of sense, it moves fast.
    • As soon as the book begins, we are submerged in a child’s consciousness. Stephen (the child) thinks about the things kids think about: his neighbors, his family, wetting the bed, songs and stories he knows. You know, the usual sights, sounds, and smells of childhood.
    • Irish politics enter the scene: Stephen knows the names "Michael Davitt" and "Parnell" (two Irish nationalist politicians – you’ll hear more about Parnell later), but not what they signify.
    • Stephen hides under the table at a gathering and is told to apologize; otherwise, his Aunt Dante says that "the eagles will come and pull out his eyes." Stephen makes this into a creepy rhyme, which he repeats to himself: "Apologize, pull out his eyes."
    • We see Stephen at the playground of his Catholic boarding school, Clongowes, where we meet some unpleasant schoolmates. Stephen is bullied by one of them (who goes by the charming name of Nasty Roche). Class-consciousness is already a worry, since the other boys ask Stephen if his father is a magistrate, which he’s not.
    • The boys are playing soccer, but Stephen’s mind wanders to other things…
    • First, he remembers being sent off to school by his family, and he looks forward to the Christmas holidays.
    • He thinks about how smart his Aunt Dante must be – maybe even smarter than the priests at school.
    • A voice calls the boys in, bringing Stephen back to reality. We witness another little scene of schoolboy name-calling; the name in question is "suck." Stephen gets distracted by language once again as he ponders the meaning of this word.
    • Next, the boys are in math class, and the teacher, Father Arnall, has two teams competing in speed arithmetic. The teams are York and Lancaster (brief historical note: these were the two warring factions in England’s 15th century Wars of the Roses). Surprise, surprise: Stephen is distracted again by his own thoughts, this time on colors.
    • Dinner is next – and it fits the terrible dormitory food stereotypes (two words here: damp bread. GROSS.). Stephen is homesick, so he takes refuge in the internal world of his senses, this time thinking about sounds.
    • Poor Stephen gets bullied again by some foul character named Wells; Stephen recalls that Wells pushed him into a ditch full of scummy, slimy water yesterday.
    • Stephen looks at a world map and ponders his own insignificance. Okay, that’s vague – he thinks about his place in the world, and how small he is compared to everything else, especially God. We get the feeling that at this stage, like most kids, Stephen doesn’t really get the whole God thing, but he believes in it anyway.
    • As promised, Parnell is back. Stephen remembers a fight between Aunt Dante and his father, in which they argue about whether or not Parnell is a bad man. FYI, Charles Parnell was a leader of the Irish Nationalist movement of the early 1900s, but he died in disgrace after having an affair with a woman named Kitty O’Shea – think Clinton and Lewinsky, but way more scandalous.
    • Stephen feels very small and confused because he doesn’t know what politics means, and he doesn’t know how big the universe is. Poor kid- we’ve all been there. Heck, some of us still are.
    • Stephen goes to chapel with the rest of his schoolmates, then to bed. He prays for his family and tries to go to sleep. Like many kids, he’s afraid of the dark and can’t stop thinking of ghosts… He’s something of an optimist, though, so he tries to think happy thoughts of home and Christmas.
    • He wakes up ill and is taken to the infirmary, where he’s left alone for a while. You guessed it: he starts thinking. This time the topic is death: What if Stephen dies? He imagines a sad and beautiful funeral scene for himself.
    • Stephen’s talkative roommate in the infirmary, a high-spirited young whippersnapper called Athy, tells Stephen a lame joke. Stephen’s not so amused.
    • The day passes. Stephen’s mind wanders. He has a trippy dream about the death of Parnell.
    • In the next section, Christmas is finally here. Stephen is home (yay!), and he’s allowed to eat dinner with the adults for the first time. He has a special fancy outfit that makes him feel "oldish" and a little weird, especially since his father cried when he saw his little boy all dressed up. All the same, Stephen is really excited.
    • Things heat up discussion-wise pretty quickly. Aunt Dante is a super-zealous Catholic, and she gets into an argument with Mr. Casey and Mr. Dedalus (Stephen’s father) about the Church’s influence on politics. The subtext is that the Irish Church had taken the lead in hounding Parnell about his affair, thus destroying the country’s best hope for freedom from the British. Mr. Casey and Mr. Dedalus consider this the worst kind of betrayal, but Dante defends the Church, and, as you can imagine, dinner just gets worse from here on out.
    • Stephen gets confused with what’s going on – this argument is way over his head. He gets distracted thinking about his neighbor, a little Protestant girl named Eileen, and about how Dante claims that Protestants don’t understand Catholic beliefs – but then again, neither does Stephen, really.
    • Mr. Casey tells a rude story about a fight he got into with an anti-Parnell old woman.
    • Basically, the evening explodes into disaster from here. The gist of the argument is that Dante is on the side of God and religion over everything else, while Mr. Casey thinks that Ireland has had enough of God. There’s a lot of yelling and hullaballoo, and at the end of it, Mr. Casey and Mr. Dedalus both break down and cry, remembering the dead Parnell.
    • Back at school, Stephen is in an intense discussion with some of his classmates, including Wells (the kid who pushed him into a ditch) and Athy, his Chatty Kathy infirmary roommate. They’re gossiping about some other boys who got in trouble for some unnamed offense. Wells suggests that they stole the Communion wine from the church.
    • Stephen remembers how he broke his glasses earlier, and how his poor vision makes everything look different today.
    • Back to the conversation: Athy claims that the transgressors were caught "smugging" (an ambiguous sexual act) with two other boys, Simon Moonan and Tusker "Lady" Boyle. Initially, Stephen’s mind drifts a little; he thinks of his neighbor, the lovely young Eileen, who has long white hands like Boyle’s, which he associates with the religious images of "Tower of Ivory" and "House of Gold."
    • The mention of homosexuality makes everyone nervous. They speculate and joke about the many punishments the guilty boys will get, but Stephen has a feeling that everyone is a little afraid.
    • Later, the boys are in a writing lesson. Stephen thinks about how Mr. Harford, their teacher, doesn’t get into "dreadful waxes" like the other teachers (as in, he doesn’t yell, scream, and hit them).
    • Stephen’s mind drifts again (doesn’t this kid ever pay attention in class?). Now he is concerned by the rumor about the theft of the Communion wine that Wells started. He wonders how anyone could do such a terrible thing; he tries to wrap his mind around such a colossal sin, but he can’t.
    • Next comes Latin class. Unfortunately, Father Arnall, the Latin teacher, does get into dreadful waxes. He gets into one right now: after checking the boys’ homework, he is horrified by its badness. A boy named Fleming has done an especially crappy job. Fleming then makes a blatant mistake in class and has to kneel in the middle of the classroom.
    • Stephen wonders if it’s a sin for priests to get so upset with their students. If so, then who the priests confess to – higher-up priests?
    • Father Dolan enters. He’s the prefect of studies, which is really a fancy title for a guy who beats bad kids. Armed with a pandybat (some kind of terrible wooden instrument of punishment) and some odd rhetorical habits, he proceeds to paddle Fleming’s hand. Just before he leaves, though, he notices that Stephen is not writing. Father Arnall tells the prefect that Stephen has been excused from work because his glasses broke, but Father Dolan will have none of it. He calls Stephen up and beats his hands, too.
    • Father Dolan leaves, warning the class that he’ll be back tomorrow. Ooooh, scary. Actually, Father Dolan is pretty scary, even if there’s definitely something goofy about a guy who always refers to himself in the third person (Father Dolan will do this! Father Dolan will do that!)
    • Father Arnall feels bad about the beatings, and he acts nice to the boys for the rest of the lesson.
    • Stephen is outraged by his wrongful beating, as he should be. Actually, he’s mostly hurt and insulted; his pride is just as damaged as his hands. He has always been one of the best students in class – how dare Father Dolan call him a "schemer" in front of everyone!
    • At dinner, the other boys agree that Stephen has been majorly wronged. Nasty Roche, who’s suddenly on Stephen’s side, tells Stephen that he should go tell the rector (head priest) about it.
    • All the other "fellows" think Stephen should go tell on Father Dolan. After all, the priest had been totally unfair and unjust. Someone compared the situation to taking an injustice to the Roman senate (something the boys have learned about in history), and Stephen decides to talk to the rector.
    • At first, Stephen is confident that he’s doing the right thing, but he quickly starts to worry. What if the rector sides with the prefect? What if Stephen gets beaten again? He eventually puts his fears aside and goes to see the head honcho.
    • Stephen explains the glasses situation to the rector. Thankfully (we can all breathe a sigh of relief here – no more embarrassment in this chapter!), the rector is a good guy, and perfectly sweet to Stephen. He says that he will talk to Father Dolan.
    • This is enough for Stephen. He’s so excited he can hardly contain himself. He runs out to the playground, where all the other boys are waiting to hear what happened.
    • When they find out that Stephen has triumphed, they all cheer and throw their hats up in the air. For once, Stephen Dedalus is the schoolyard hero! The chapter fades out in this glow of contentment. Sigh… life is grand – for now, at least.

  • Chapter 2

    • Things start to move even more quickly (and oddly) in this chapter, so buckle your seatbelts and get ready to skip around a lot.
    • Some time has passed. Now it’s summer, and Stephen is a little older and wiser. He’s home for summer vacation and lives with his family in a place called Blackrock.
    • Stephen spends much of his time this summer with his Granduncle Charles, a dapper old man most notable for his malodorous pipe tobacco and prodigious vocabulary. Stephen goes on errands around town with Uncle Charles.
    • Stephen is inexplicably in a one-on-one physical training program with a friend of his father’s, Mike Flynn. Mike makes Stephen run endlessly around the track in a comical style – arms straight down, legs lifted high. It’s a funny and cringe-worthy image. Mr. Dedalus claims that Mike trained many top athletes, but Stephen finds that hard to believe, considering his current state. The coach is a flabby, chain-smoking, lack-luster mess, which isn’t exactly encouraging.
    • Stephen and Uncle Charles often stop at the chapel so the old man can pray. We see that Stephen has lost the unquestioning faith he had as a smaller child – now, he can’t understand what Uncle Charles prays for.
    • On Sundays, the men of the Dedalus family take a walk together. Stephen, his father, and Uncle Charles go out into the country, and the adults talk about things Stephen still doesn’t fully understand, like politics and family history. He does have a feeling that he’s approaching adulthood. He feels, like a lot of us do when we’re growing up, like he has a great part to play in the world – he just doesn’t know what yet.
    • In the evenings, Stephen reads and re-reads The Count of Monte Cristo. This swashbuckling French novel by Alexandre Dumas becomes the foundation for most of Stephen’s daydreams at this point in the book; all you have to know is that the hero is a tall, dark, mysterious man, who’s in love with Mercedes, a beautiful, mysterious woman (mysteriousness is pretty central here). Stephen longs for a Mercedes of his own…no car jokes, please.
    • Stephen and his friend Aubrey Mills (a boy) are the leaders of a "gang of adventurers." The kids basically do what kids do in the summer – rampage around and fight imaginary battles until dark.
    • Stephen and Aubrey occasionally ride with the milkman to see the dairy cows out in the country. In the autumn, though, the cows live in a filthy yard closer to the city. This disgusting place upsets Stephen – he’s super-sensitive to beauty and ugliness.
    • In September, Stephen does not return to Clongowes for school. This is the first sign that tells us that all is not well with the Dedalus family (cue ominous music)…
    • Stephen is left with nothing to do. His running career ends because Mike Flynn, unsurprisingly, has to go to the hospital. Aubrey is busy at school. Stephen wonders what it would be like to be a milkman.
    • Stephen knows that something’s going on with his dad; he notices that something has changed at home, and it worries him. He is sure that this is why he can’t return to Clongowes.
    • Uncertain of how to deal with the troubles at home, Stephen takes refuge in his dreams of Mercedes. We see that Stephen is turning into a real romantic.
    • Two big caravans show up one day to move the Dedalus clan to a new house in Dublin. Stephen’s mother has been crying, and based on what we’ve already seen, we know this isn’t going to be good. The family moves into a "bare and cheerless" house, and everyone is pretty unhappy. Mr. Dedalus talks a lot about not giving up, and he gets kind of nutty. It’s clear that they’re in a state of financial decline.
    • Time passes (actually, time is constantly passing pretty quickly in this book, even if it’s not clearly marked, so get used to it). Uncle Charles is going senile and everything’s pretty disorderly in the new house, so Stephen is left on his own a lot. He wanders around Dublin, getting used to the city.
    • Stephen is now an "embittered" adolescent – that is, an angsty teenager. We all know what that means… there’s a big storm a-brewin’ in Stephenland.
    • The Dedaluses have relatives close by, and Stephen goes to visit them occasionally with his mother. We see a couple of scenes of everyday Dublin life. First, Stephen visits his aunt, and we see his cousins admiring a picture of an actress. Next, he’s sitting in a creepy old house with two creepy old women (who we assume are other relatives). It doesn’t seem like family ties have much to offer Stephen right now.
    • Stephen is at a children’s party. Typically, he’s feeling like an outsider, and slinks off to a corner to ponder his burgeoning emotions. Oh, woe is he.
    • The party is over. We learn why Stephen has been feeling so angsty – he likes a girl. Stephen and the girl flirt awkwardly while they wait for a tram to leave. Stephen remembers an earlier day when Eileen (the Protestant girl from Chapter One) wanted him to chase her and catch hold of her. He gets the feeling that this new girl wants the same thing, and he wonders if he should grab her and kiss her now – but of course he just thinks and doesn’t act. This moment makes us profoundly uncomfortable thinking about our own adolescent awkwardness… ugh.
    • The next day, Stephen attempts to write a romantic poem to the girl. This is the first time we see the young man actually try to be an artist, so take note. He gets distracted, though, and can’t complete it. He thinks about an earlier time when he tried to write a poem about Parnell.
    • Stephen keeps trying to compose his poem, but he can’t focus. Instead, he procrastinates by writing a list of his former classmates. This clears his brain a little, and he begins his poem.
    • In the process of writing, all of the "common and insignificant" parts of his memory of the girl are eliminated, leaving only a vague and romantic image. We don’t get to read Stephen’s poem, but we can tell that it’s oh-so-swoony. We do have to cut Stephen some slack, though – after all, this is one of his first literary works.
    • Stephen finishes his poem, dedicates it to "E – C – ," hides it, then goes to gaze soulfully into his reflection in his mother’s mirror.
    • Mr. Dedalus comes home. Stephen has been looking forward to this all day, since there’s mutton hash for dinner. However, Mr. Dedalus’ news spoils his appetite.
    • Mr. Dedalus tells the family about a run-in he had with the former rector of Clongowes (Stephen’s old school). Stephen’s parents hope that the priest will help Stephen get a position at a new school, Belvedere. They’re not too enthusiastic about the Jesuit teachers but are confident that going to one of these schools will help Stephen get ahead.
    • We find out that Stephen’s younger brother, Maurice, will join him at the new school.
    • The rector told Mr. Dedalus the story about Stephen, Father Dolan, and the glasses. Mr. Dedalus is resentful of the condescending attitude the priests take to their students.
    • We learn from Mr. Dedalus’s story that the rector didn’t scold Father Dolan after all – instead, the two priests "had a laugh" about Stephen’s complaint over dinner.
    • Stephen has been at school at Belvedere for a while now. It’s spring (we know this because the school is having a Whitsuntide play – Whitsuntide, or Pentecost, is a Catholic holiday following Easter).
    • The school is having one big shindig. There’s a gymnastics competition, as well as other festivities. Stephen’s involvement is limited to the play. He’s been cast as the main character, a stuffy teacher, because of his seriousness. He’d developed a reputation for being a good writer. We also get the feeling that Stephen is kind of a little prig.
    • We learn that Stephen is, in fact, already at the end of his second year at Belvedere. See, we told you time passes oddly in this book…
    • The other boys are practicing their gymnastics routines and getting ready for performances. Stephen gets impatient and goes outside.
    • Stephen gets caught up in the sound of the band practicing in the theatre. We’re reminded of his fascination with the physical senses. He’s still feeling an inexplicable discontentment.
    • The smell of smoke reaches Stephen, and he sees two boys smoking in a dark corner. One of them is Vincent Heron, a classmate, and the other is Heron’s friend Wallis.
    • Heron tries to get Stephen to imitate the rector of the school in his performance. He tries (and fails) to imitate the teacher himself.
    • Wallis asks Stephen if he smokes – Heron replies that Stephen is a "model youth."
    • Stephen takes a good look at Heron, which allows us to see him. He has a birdy face to go with his birdy name, with a beaked nose and a crest of messy hair. We learn that the two boys are rivals and school friends; they’re apparently the smartest kids in a class of "dullards."
    • Heron mentions that he saw Stephen’s father enter the school.
    • We already know that something’s going on with the Dedalus family, and Stephen’s reaction confirms this. He gets nervous any time someone mentions Mr. Dedalus.
    • Heron slyly and admiringly pokes fun at Stephen a little. He and Wallis saw a girl (the "E.C." of the poem) walk in with Mr. Dedalus. Heron can’t believe that Stephen, the "model youth," has a relationship with a pretty girl.
    • Stephen is angered by Heron’s jokes. To him, the girl of his dreams is not a laughing matter. He’s been thinking of her all day, since he knows she’s supposed to be at the play. He feels unsettled and restless again just thinking about her.
    • Heron keeps joking and playfully hits Stephen with his cane (what’s a high school kid doing with a cane, anyway?!). He forces Stephen to admit that he’s no saint.
    • Stephen’s anger passes, but he wants to get away, so he plays along with Heron.
    • Stephen deals with the situation by sarcastically reciting the Confiteor, a Catholic prayer that begs forgiveness for sins.
    • Heron and Wallis laugh, and Stephen remembers another, earlier incident. He takes us back to his first term at Belvedere… cue Wayne’s World-style fade-out to two years ago…
    • This earlier Stephen is unhappy in Dublin, and his "sensitive soul" can’t deal with an existence he sees as ugly and meaningless (a pretty common phenomenon at his time of life, if we recall correctly… EMO ALERT!).
    • At this point, Stephen is strongly affected by everything he comes into contact with. He tries to flex his intellectual muscles and challenges himself to write the best essays in the class. One day he goes a little too far for the strict Catholic teacher, who accuses him of heresy (it may sound ridiculous to us now, but back then this kind of thing was serious). Stephen is forced to admit that he made a mistake to the teacher, who lets the matter go.
    • After school, though, Heron confronts Stephen along with two of his minions, Nash and Boland. Heron is swinging his cane around again – apparently, it’s his shtick. The boys start talking about favorite writers. They agree that Cardinal Newman (a Catholic thinker) was a great prose writer, but they have an argument about poets. Heron claims that Tennyson (the prim and proper Victorian) was the greatest poet, and Stephen says that it was Byron (the rebellious Romantic). This provokes a huge argument, which returns to heresy. Heron and his thugs say that Byron was a heretic and a bad man, and that Stephen is, too. They try to force him to admit to these things, and when he won’t, they give him a thrashing. While it may seem absurd that these schoolboys get into a fight over dead poets, just think about how riled up people have gotten about more recent rivalries: you know, Democrat v. Republican…
    • Stephen returns to the present day. He wonders why he’s not still angry at his tormentors about the whole Byron thing.
    • Distracted, Stephen’s mind lingers on Eileen, and on their parting at the tram. He can’t stop thinking about her and wonders if she’s thinking of him.
    • A younger boy comes up, desperately seeking Stephen. One of the teachers is "in a bake" (don’t you just love these little slang gems?) and needs Stephen to get ready for his part in the play.
    • Heron gets upset that a teacher would send for a senior boy in such a way. He gets a little snotty and tells Stephen not to go. Stephen, however, is always obedient (on the outside, at least). On the inside, though, he’s beginning to question the pressures placed on him by his father, his teachers, the Church, the outside world, et cetera…
    • Stephen enters the chapel where the play will take place, and he observes some younger boys getting their faces painted. Also, watching a Jesuit priest, he thinks about corruption in the Church. He wonders if the play will desecrate the church.
    • It’s time for the play. Stephen is embarrassed momentarily, thinking of how silly his lines are. Suddenly, a change comes over him when he thinks of the girl watching; for once, we see him act like any other boy, wholeheartedly excited and enthusiastic. This temporary euphoria lasts through the play, but as soon as it’s over, grumpy Stephen and his existential crises are back.
    • Stephen can’t wait to get away from the crowd. He pushes through the people waiting outside the church and blows off his family, saying he has an errand to run. He doesn’t even look for the girl.
    • Stephen walks through the city until he feels calm again. He focuses on the earthy smells of horses and straw in the lane before returning to his family.
    • New scene: Stephen and his father are on the train to Cork, Mr. Dedalus’ hometown. Stephen remembers the wonder he felt during other train trips (to Clongowes); now he doesn’t feel any of that old excitement.
    • Things are even worse for Mr. Dedalus. He’s an alcoholic – we see him taking sips from a pocket flask, and Stephen is constantly anxious about his drinking in this section. Mr. Dedalus gets sadder as he gets drunker, and he goes on and on about his old friends and family, now dead. Stephen doesn’t know any of them, except Uncle Charles (of the famously stinky tobacco), who he has now almost forgotten.
    • Mr. Dedalus’s land in Cork is being sold by auction. The family is obviously in pretty dire financial straits.
    • The train arrives in Cork, and Stephen and his father go to their room in the Victoria Hotel. Mr. Dedalus sings a sad folk song, which Stephen likes.
    • Mr. Dedalus orders breakfast, then reminisces about his old friends with the waiter.
    • Father and son go and visit Queen’s College, Mr. D’s old school. He gets into an animated discussion with a porter about old teachers and students. Stephen is embarrassed by how sentimental his father is.
    • In the anatomy theatre (a biology lecture hall), Stephen is suddenly intensely upset by the word "Foetus" carved several times in a desk. This very odd piece of graffiti evokes an eerily precise vision of past students hanging out in the hall.
    • Stephen is called away by his father, but can’t get rid of his mental discomfort. The "foetus" incident brings to mind all of his secret dirty thoughts. We learn that poor Stephen has been laboring under the misconception that he’s the only one who has them.
    • Mr. Dedalus keeps yammering on about his old friends. Stephen is only half-listening – he still can’t stop thinking about how very, very bad he’s been. Stephen is convinced that he has indulged in "mad and filthy orgies." Before you get too alarmed, don’t worry; you haven’t missed anything major (there have been no actual orgies!). However, the sin Stephen’s thinking about is pretty easy to guess: it’s something teenage boys do… in secret… by themselves…wink wink, nudge nudge.
    • Mr. Dedalus keeps inanely going on about how Stephen should hang out with "gentlemen" – he gets more and more sentimental (and more and more drunk, in all likelihood) thinking about his lost youth and his dead father.
    • Stephen feels lost inside himself, horrified at the state of his soul. He tries to calm down by focusing on names: he is Stephen Dedalus, he is with his father, Simon Dedalus, they are in a hotel called the Victoria in a city called Cork in a country called Ireland. This reminds us of the scene in Chapter One where Stephen tries to locate himself in a similar fashion.
    • Stephen tries to recall some of his childhood memories, but they’re foggy. In fact, his readers probably remember them better than he does. He sees himself as a little boy at Clongowes and remembers the time he wondered about his own death (see Chapter One).
    • Stephen and his father tool around town the next day, and Stephen is embarrassed by his father’s shakiness (evidence of his drinking binge the night before). They end up, unsurprisingly, in a pub with Mr. Dedalus’s old friends, including an old family friend named Johnny Cashman.
    • The sentimental ramblings of the older men have no effect on Stephen. He feels cold and distant, and he can’t shake the feeling of "loveless lust" that plagues him. He resigns himself to his alienation, comparing himself to the moon in a famous poem (FYI, the poem is "Art Thou Pale for Weariness," by superstar Romantic poet Percy Shelley).
    • Next, we see the Dedaluses together in Dublin. Stephen has won some prize money for an essay, and he withdraws all of it from the bank.
    • As usual, Mr. Dedalus mourns for the good old days of Irish politics.
    • Mr. Dedalus, Mrs. Dedalus, and Stephen are on a walk later in the year (are you keeping up with this?). It’s October now, and Dublin is getting cold. We discover that Stephen has been spending his prize money generously on his family and himself, trying to create a world that he finds more tolerable. But now that the money’s gone, things are back to normal, and Stephen is discontented again. After his brush with a better life, he is disgusted with himself and his surroundings.
    • Stephen’s feeling of unease and alienation increases. He can’t shake off his physical desires, and his romantic "Count of Monte Cristo" dreams are overtaken by "the fires of lust" – ooooohhh. You know this is about to get steamy.
    • …AND IT DOES. Stephen goes out a-wanderin’, gets picked up by a particularly bold hooker, and as the curtain closes on Chapter Two, things are getting hot and heavy (and in Stephen’s case, frankly helpless) in her room.

  • Chapter 3

    • It’s December, and Stephen is still dominated by his physical desires – for food, sex, and wandering around. Since his first experience with the prostitute, he has returned to the red light district many times. He feels divorced from God and has stopped praying; a "cold lucid indifference" dominates his inner self.
    • Stephen is inwardly contemptuous towards basically everyone else. He scorns churchgoers for being hypocrites and is disgusted by pretty much everything… in LIFE.
    • Stephen has earned a prefecture (a position of honor) in the college. Every Saturday evening, he takes part in a sodality – really just a fancy name for a specific church service – in honor of the Virgin Mary. Though he feels separated from the church community and from God, he is still fascinated by the ritual of the Latin mass and by the image of Mary herself. He is confused by his opposed feelings of religious awe and sexual desire, and he cannot understand how the two can coexist in his soul.
    • Cut to the schoolroom – Stephen’s thoughts have been wandering (nothing has changed after all these years), and the sound of the bell brings him back to reality. Heron, his wisecracking, cane-swinging frenemy from Chapter Two, is still in his class. The other boys rely upon Stephen to ask mind-boggling questions to the rector in their religion class.
    • Stephen ponders his sins some more. He takes a kind of perverse pleasure in the thought of his condemnation; he’s fascinated by the idea that by breaking one commandment (of the Ten), he has broken them all. One can imagine that Stephen probably spends most of his non-brothel time thinking about complex religious matters such as these… if you haven’t figured it out yet, he is not your average teenage boy.
    • While the boys are waiting for the rector to arrive, Stephen mulls over the impossible questions of religious doctrine he has been waiting to ask.
    • The rector comes in but doesn’t ask for questions on the catechism. Instead, he announces that the school will have a three-day religious retreat. The retreat is in honor of St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of the college. A brief historical note: St. Francis Xavier is probably one of the biggest rock stars of the Catholic world. He was a 16th century missionary who helped found the Jesuit order, and also one of the first missionaries to go to East Asia.
    • The rector’s enthusiasm and passionate praise of the saint are striking to Stephen; he feels his soul wither under the scrutiny of the priest’s burning eyes. Oh, the drama.
    • The rest of the chapter gets more and more intense, so be prepared.
    • The next section is largely made up of the sermons Stephen hears at the religious retreat.
    • Oddly enough, the priest who delivers these texts is Father Arnall, making a significant guest appearance in this chapter. You may remember him as a teacher at Clongowes – specifically the one who excuses Stephen from lessons when his glasses are broken in Chapter One. This takes Stephen back to those early years, and he feels his soul become more childlike as he listens to his old teacher.
    • We "hear" the sermons along with Stephen, and we’re also given insight into his reactions to them. Father Arnall’s talk starts pleasantly enough; he praises the boys who have chosen to go on missions to distant lands, following in the footsteps of St. Francis himself. However, we soon learn that his real purpose is to give the boys a talking-to concerning four of the great (and alarming!) mysteries of Catholicism: death, judgment, hell, and heaven. To accomplish this, he asks the boys to put aside all of their worldly cares and desires, which, for Stephen, is something of a challenge.
    • Father Arnall’s sermon sticks with Stephen, and that evening he mulls over its meaning as he eats dinner. The dirty plates and the scummy feeling of his mouth gross him out. He feels everything get bogged down in a sludge of unease; he imagines his soul "congealing" inside him into a foul, greasy state, while his body stares out stupidly and helplessly. Gross.
    • (Note to the squeamish: the Ick Factor definitely rises exponentially from here on out.)
    • Day Two of the retreat focuses on death (some retreat!). Stephen feels terror seep into him as Father Arnall describes the whole grisly process of death and judgment. For the second time, Stephen imagines his own death (remember, the first time was in the infirmary at Clongowes). Stephen shares the oh-so-lovely image of a corpse crawling with "creeping worms" and "scuttling fatbellied rats" with us. Nice.
    • After death comes the inevitable judgment of the soul, followed by the big-deal capital-J Judgment. We get a juicy description of the apocalypse, courtesy of Father Arnall, in which Christ returns to judge all the souls who have ever lived and died. Christ will either send them to heaven or condemn them to hell.
    • Stephen is HORRIFIED, and so are we. Stephen is sure that every word of this sermon is meant for him, since he sees himself as such a terrible sinner. He’s dreadfully, dreadfully ashamed of his past sins, and vividly imagines the scene of his damnation.
    • We’re finally given insight to some of Stephen’s sins. First, he sees the image of the girl mentioned in Chapter Two (we learn that her name is Emma), and he can’t believe he would dare think dirty thoughts about her. Next, he admits to having a hidden store of porn hidden in the chimney that inspires his dreams of "harlots" (unrelated note: why don’t people use the word "harlot" anymore? C’mon, it’s so much better than the ones we do use!). Finally – and this one is actually kind of funny, even though we know that Stephen is dead serious – he has written dirty letters confessing his sins that he then left out in public, with the hopes that a girl might come along and read it. Oh, what a filthy (and, let’s admit it, weirdly creative) teenage mind he has!
    • Anyway, though these things may not seem so terribly awful to our jaded 21st century minds, Stephen is just mortified by them. He tries to appeal to God and the Virgin Mary but feels too distant from them. He imagines a somewhat optimistic scene in which Mary blesses him and Emma, despite their sins.
    • Day Three of the retreat. This is where things start to get seriously twisted. One has to wonder about whoever came up with the truly horrific images of hell that we’re about to encounter… if the author’s point is to show us how warped religion can be, he certainly does a pretty bang-up job here, so mad props to Joyce. It’s almost as though Stephen King steps in for a few pages here and just goes totally, totally nuts. Ready? Let’s visit Father Arnall’s Hell.
    • So, the priest starts off with a pretty tame description of Lucifer’s rebellion, then of Adam and Eve’s original sin (eating the forbidden fruit). We all know what happens next: they’re shunted out of the Garden of Eden into the world, where their ancestors hang out until Jesus shows up to redeem them. However, not everyone buys into the whole religion thing, and some people keep right on sinning. These wicked folk, Father Arnall tells us, are destined for an eternity in Hell.
    • … And Hell, as you might imagine, is sooo not cool. In fact, the way Father Arnall tells it, it is so horrific that we can barely read through this section without tossing our cookies. He goes into EXCRUTIATING, DISGUSTING, and TRULY GORE-TASTIC details that make us feel just as creeped out and terrified as Stephen. We’ll spare you most of the grim details, but here are a few highlights: everyone in Hell is crammed together and can’t move, and they have to breathe in the stench of innumerable rotting corpses, described as – are you ready for this? – "jellylike mass[es] of liquid corruption" that have been set on fire. Blech! Gaah! Gluughghgh! Just typing those words make us feel ill. Oh, and that’s not even the worst of it, apparently. There’s also the eternal fire of Hell, which is a kind of magical super-fiery fire, that doesn’t destroy bodies, but just keeps burning and burning and burning, until the damned souls are basically boiling outside and in – FOR…EH…VER…
    • Also, this description of Hell feels like it goes on forever. We’ll spare you the rest of the details; Father Arnall goes on to describe how awful it is to spend eternity with a bunch of other terrible sinners, and how even more awful it is to spend said eternity with foul-mouthed, scary devils.
    • And that was just the morning of Day Three. Phew. Stephen is, understandably, in a state of total shock and horror. He’s even more certain than ever that he’s going to Hell, and that the grotesque torments described above are awaiting him. He can practically feel the fires consuming him.
    • Interestingly enough, the other boys don’t seem as upset as our hero. Heron, smartass that he is, is pretty unaffected and goes on casually chatting with a teacher. This just reinforces what we should really know by now – Stephen is special and sensitive.
    • This chapter just keeps inflicting itself on us, and on poor Stephen. The school takes a break from all the sermonizing to have a couple of classes, but Stephen can’t concentrate. Come on, it was hard enough for him to focus in class without getting distracted on normal days – now that he’s worried about his eternal damnation, he doesn’t have a chance.
    • After an English class, some of the boys return to the chapel to give confession. For those of you non-Sunday Schoolers out there, confession is a hugely important sacrament in the Catholic Church. Basically, by confessing your sins to a priest, you’re admitting them to God and asking for forgiveness.
    • Stephen, however, can’t bring himself to confess to a priest in his school chapel, so close to his schoolmates and teachers. He tells himself he will confess somewhere else later.
    • Eventually it’s time for everyone to return for a second heaping dose of Father Arnall’s fire and brimstone. Since he focused on the physical torments of hell in the morning, he moves on to the spiritual torments in the evening, and they’re just as terrible.
    • Okay, so the spiritual tortures of Hell break down into four categories. We’ll just lay them out plainly here, minus Father Arnall’s elaborations, and you can make of them what you will. They are (drum roll, please…):
    • The pain of loss (separation from God).
    • The pain of conscience (pretty straightforward).
    • The pain of extension (this one’s a little confusing; it basically means that every little part of the soul will suffer in special, individual ways).
    • The pain of intensity (kind of related to #3, this means that pain and evil themselves are even more intense in Hell than on Earth).
    • Eternity is the last subject addressed in the sermon. Now, in case you don’t know, eternity is a REALLY LONG TIME. In fact, it’s infinitely long, which is to say, it’s, um… eternal. But Father Arnall is not willing to simply leave it at that. He constructs this elaborate metaphor for eternity just to rub it in: imagine an inconceivably ginormous mountain of sand. Then, imagine a little teeny tiny bird. So the bird has to carry away the mountain of sand one grain at a time, at the rate of one grain every million years. No, this is not a calculus problem. The time it takes this unfortunate (and fascinatingly long-lived) bird to move the whole mountain is not even an instant in the grand scheme of eternity. Anyway, as we said, eternity is a REALLY LONG TIME. Get the picture?
    • Finally, after this insane whirligig of terrors, Father Arnall offers a kernel of hope: ask for God’s forgiveness, stop sinning, and you’ll have a shot at actually reaching heaven (which must be pretty darn sweet, if it’s the opposite of the Hell he described).
    • Stephen is blown away by what just happened. He desperately prays for forgiveness.
    • At home, Stephen goes to his room to be "alone with his soul." He feels as though a jury is waiting inside the room to judge him; he’s scared to go inside. He manages to go in, tortured by his imagination. His conscience goes into major, major overdrive, making him rehash all of his sins.
    • Stephen either falls asleep or slips into a kind of waking nightmare. He finds himself in a barren, desolate landscape, surrounded by grotesque devils with goatish features and tails. They close in upon him, and when they’re about to get him, he wakes up and bolts out of bed.
    • Stephen is sure that God has allowed him to see a vision of the special personal hell that’s waiting for him if he doesn’t change his ways. The dream is so powerful that he’s physically sick; he pukes in the washbasin.
    • Overcome by this vision (and probably by the taste of vomit), Stephen goes to the window and prays like he’s never prayed before, then weeps for his lost innocence.
    • When night falls, Stephen leaves the house, still thinking obsessively about his sins and those of the whole world. He walks through the dark Dublin streets and feels a desperate need to confess his sins.
    • Stephen goes into a chapel and tries to pray, but he can’t. He waits in line for a confessional to talk to a priest.
    • When it’s Stephen’s turn, everything comes pouring out. All of his sins and guilty desires "ooze" out of him, and he tells the priest about everything, ending with his "impure" sexual thoughts and acts. The priest tells him to promise God that he won’t sin again and gives him prayers for penance.
    • Stephen leaves the chapel thinking he’s a changed man. He feels like the whole burden of his sins has been lifted now that he has confessed and been forgiven. He’s unbelievably happy that he has a fresh start. He goes home and sees groceries (sausages, eggs, and white pudding) waiting to be cooked for breakfast the next morning. This image contrasts with the earlier treatment of food in this chapter – instead of being disgusted by the filthiness of his body’s needs, Stephen is struck by how simple and beautiful they are.
    • The end of this chapter passes as though in a dream. Stephen goes to bed, then wakes up and goes to chapel at school. The altar is covered in white flowers, and everything is pure and beautiful to him. The priest passes from student to student offering Holy Communion, and as Stephen prepares himself for the sacrament, he sees a new life starting for him.

  • Chapter 4

    • The aforementioned "new life" is pretty intense. We learn that he has gone from being a sinner to practically being a monk. His life is based around a religious schedule; he honors a different saint or religious mystery every day of the week.
    • Every part of Stephen’s day is devoted to religious practice. He prays constantly and feels like his prayers are adding up on the tally of some great cash register in the sky.
    • Stephen has always showed an interest in religion (usually from a questioning point of view), but now, he’s completely, 110% invested in it. Rather than asking questions, Stephen acts like a wholehearted believer, and he follows the rules of the Catholic doctrine compulsively.
    • Stephen’s entire life is scheduled around different prayers at different times. Some of the central elements of his religious timetable include praying three times daily to the Holy Trinity, praying every day of the week to the Holy Spirit to help him overcome the Seven Deadly Sins, and even carrying his rosary around in his pocket so he can run his fingers over it as he walks around the city.
    • Stephen’s rigorous discipline and attention to detail are actually pretty darn amazing. Picture that friend (or cousin, or sibling, etc) you have that’s totally, unhealthily, unbelievably obsessed with something – say, "World of Warcraft." Back in the day, we at Shmoop had siblings we didn’t see for months because of their inconceivable "Dungeons and Dragons" fixations. (Hey, we’re not judging.) Anyway, picture that amount of dedication, then multiply it by ten.
    • Stephen can’t believe how empty his life seemed before this embrace of Catholicism. He finds a deep and abiding belief in God – and in love – that was missing before. The whole world seems like it only exists to demonstrate the total mind-blowing amazingness of the Powers that Be. The Stephen of the first three chapters is gone here; this chapter is missing a lot of the descriptive detail we saw earlier because Stephen isn’t looking for it.
    • Actually, Stephen is trying his best to ignore his senses completely. He forces himself to undergo an intense and thoroughly revolting process of "mortification" to both undo his shameful, shameful past and to prevent any future sins that might come along. In short, what this means is that Stephen is consciously denying his body of any sensory pleasures.
    • This process is incredibly precise and obviously took a lot of thought on his part. Sure, he may be a total religious fanatic at this point, but we’re awfully impressed by how scientifically he is going about this whole thing. We get a lot of details from Joyce on what Stephen does to eliminate all sensory input.
    • He "mortifies" his sense of sight by only looking down when he walks through the crowded Dublin streets. He especially avoids the gaze of women. This is an ambitious idea and all, but we can’t help but wonder if Stephen also sustains a lot of minor injuries at this time in his life. Seriously, he must have run into a lot of people… and horses… and lampposts…
    • The next image is also simultaneously serious and hilarious to imagine. Although his adolescent voice is changing, Stephen makes no effort to control it, reasoning that he would only be trying to avoid embarrassment and sonic displeasure. We wonder if he takes into consideration the fact that other people aren’t necessarily mortifying their senses, since the sound of his adolescent yodeling is probably more irritating to them. He also makes himself put up with the sounds that he hates, like the screech of knives being sharpened.
    • Stephen invents a characteristically innovative and bizarre way of mortifying his sense of smell. He has an especially high tolerance for smells most people find disgusting, and he discovers that the only odor he can’t stand is that of urine that’s been sitting out for a while – so he forces himself to endure it whenever the opportunity arises.
    • To take all the joy out of eating, Stephen observes all of the holy fasts on the Church calendar, and he tries to distract himself during meals in order to avoid the pleasures of food.
    • Finally, Stephen brings his artistic creativity and ingenuity to the mortification of his sense of touch. He takes a bunch of little steps – never moving into a comfortable position in bed, kneeling constantly in church, even doing things as odd as leaving his face wet after he washes it and walking with his hands at his sides all the time, as Mike Flynn, the sketchy track coach, once told him to do.
    • Even though he doesn’t feel the temptation to sin big-time anymore, Stephen gets all in a tizzy because of the things he still can’t control – normal things like getting annoyed at his mother for sneezing or getting irritated when someone disturbs his prayers.
    • The idea that, despite all his hard work, he could still be like everyone else drives Stephen crazy. He can’t understand why he isn’t perfect yet.
    • This sense of discontent leads Stephen to think again about sin. He thinks of the power and responsibility he has: he could ruin everything he’s accomplished just by giving in to dirty thoughts. All it would take is one act and . . . Poof! . . . he’s back in Sin City.
    • We see Stephen go through ups and downs with his faith, as he wonders if he’s really saved from hell or not.
    • Stephen is in the office of the college’s director. He’s approaching the end of his time at Belvedere, which must make him about seventeen-ish. The director talks on and on, relating little priest in-jokes and anecdotes. We get a lot of description of the priest’s face; there’s something kind of creepy about the image of his skull and shadowed face.
    • The priest mentions a discussion among different orders of monks about dress code. The traditional outfit for priests of all kinds was a long, dress-like robe. The director mentions that in Belgium, they are called "les jupes" (in French, this means "skirts"). This word brings back images of Stephen’s former sins – the feeling of a woman’s stocking, the idea of a female body moving within soft clothes.
    • Stephen feels the priest observing his reaction to this lighthearted conversation. He thinks of all of the priests that taught him, both at Clongowes and Belvedere, and of the respect he had for them. Now, however, he’s starting to feel intellectually superior to some of them; this makes him feel a little regretful and sad, since it means that he’s moving out of childhood and into the adult world. He remembers a recent incident in which one of the priests made some exaggerated comments about how Victor Hugo’s prose style suffered after he broke with the Catholic Church. Stephen thinks it’s silly to judge a writer by his relation to the Church.
    • Stephen gets distracted by his fractured memories of childhood – his reflections are even more vague than they have been in previous chapters.
    • The priest finally gets to the point of the conversation. He wants to know if Stephen has considered joining the Jesuits, since he’s a model student and all-around star. The director tries to convince Stephen that the priesthood is his calling – the best anyone could hope for.
    • Stephen admits that he has occasionally thought about becoming a priest. He is flattered that the director thinks he’s worthy of such an honor.
    • Stephen’s romantic dreams of Mercedes have been replaced by a new, equally romantic image of himself as a young, dignified priest. He imagines himself taking on secondary roles at mass; he’s intimidated by the idea of being the center of the ritual. He prefers to think of himself occupying some smaller but necessary role.
    • The priest’s spiel is pretty seductive. Stephen is titillated by the idea of all the "secret knowledge and secret power" that he could gain through the priesthood. In our opinion, there’s something super sketchy about this power; he gets off on the idea of hearing the sins of women and girls while keeping himself immune from sin and depravity.
    • (This is probably a good sign that Stephen is not cut out for the priesthood.)
    • The director tells Stephen that he will dedicate tomorrow’s mass to him, hoping that God show him whether or not to join the priesthood. He also instructs Stephen to pray to his patron saint (St. Stephen) to ask about his true calling.
    • As Stephen leaves the director’s office, he’s thrilled by a sudden burst of music from the street. He’s unsettled when he sees the priest’s joyless face, which doesn’t react at all to the music.
    • Stephen realizes that the life he could have in the priesthood is a dull and passionless existence. He imagines his first night in the dormitory where new priests live, and it brings back unpleasant images of his boarding school days at Clongowes.
    • The more he thinks about this possible new life, the less Stephen likes it. The mere thought of a cold, ordered, dreary life in the priesthood repels him. He recoils at the image of the Reverend S.J. Dedalus; all his feelings of difference and individuality reject this common identity.
    • Suddenly, Stephen’s respect for his former teachers is replaced by laughable memories of the goofy nicknames given to them by students, and of the sour, unhealthy expressions upon their faces.
    • Stephen realizes that he will never be a priest. Furthermore, he’s certain that he would fail to uphold his vows if he joined the order, since his destiny is to learn the sinful ways of the world on his own.
    • Upon returning to the unruly and ramshackle Dedalus home, Stephen shows his first glimmer of humor in a long time – thankfully! After these two deadly serious chapters, a little relief is very welcome. He’s amused by the idea that the disorder of his family’s home, which smells of rotten cabbages, seems better than the secure, orderly life of the priesthood. He chuckles fondly at the thought of the quirky farmhand employed by his family, who was known as "the man with the hat."
    • In the kitchen, we see scraps of food and children strewn about everywhere. Stephen actually shows some tenderness towards his siblings for the first time (actually, this is only the second time we’ve seen any mention of siblings at all!). He’s amazed that they aren’t bitter towards him, despite the fact that as the older child he has privileges they don’t have.
    • Stephen asks where Mom and Pop Dedalus are. One of the children answers in a Pig Latin-esque kid language that translates as: man and dad are looking for a new house.
    • The idea of another move bothers Stephen. Even though we haven’t heard about it much, the Dedalus family has evidently been on the move a lot; their financial situation continues to worsen. He remembers his embarrassment when a boy at Belvedere asked him why his family moves so much.
    • Stephen asks the same question: why do they have to move again? The younger child answers, again in the silly child’s language, that their landlord will boot them out if they don’t leave.
    • Stephen’s youngest brother starts singing a hymn, and the other children join in. Stephen is troubled by the weariness he hears in their innocent voices. He wonders if this weariness exists in every person before they even start really living. Cardinal Newman, the Catholic writer mentioned at the beginning of Chapter Two, wrote that he noticed this same weariness in some of the Roman poet Virgil’s lines.
    • In the next section, Stephen is uneasily pacing back and forth, waiting for his father to emerge from a meeting about the possibility of sending Stephen to university. Stephen is so excited he can barely contain himself. He gets anxious and leaves.
    • His parents have mixed feelings about university; Mrs. Dedalus isn’t too jazzed about the idea, but Mr. Dedalus is characteristically proud. Stephen feels himself drifting apart from his mother because of this, and also because of his emerging disillusionment with religion.
    • The prospect of university life is thrilling to Stephen – after all, the opportunity to start over at college is priceless. His excitement makes him imagine wild, captivating music, which calls him toward his mysterious destiny. Again, we see that Stephen feels like there are great and unseen things waiting for him (again: don’t we all feel that way?).
    • After the freakishly and somewhat comically strict Stephen we saw at the beginning of the chapter, it’s really a relief to see the old Stephen reappear here. He’s interested in enjoying his senses (and life in general) again.
    • He thinks briefly about his close encounter with the priesthood – too close for comfort, actually – and wonders what made him turn away in the end.
    • Speaking of paths, Stephen is walking through the city, towards the river. On a narrow wooden bridge, a posse of priests passes him. Stephen tries to look them in the eye, but he is too embarrassed; ashamed, he watches their reflections pass by and greets them one by one.
    • He obviously has some mixed feelings toward the Holy Brotherhood, now that he’s decided not to join it.
    • Stephen turns to language to make himself feel better, just like he did as a little kid. He repeats a poetic phrase out loud: "A day of dappled seaborne clouds."
    • The next paragraph is an interesting series of multi-sensory images; Stephen ponders the "colours" of words and their "rhythmic rise and fall." Maybe he loves language because he doesn’t have great eyesight and has to express the world through words rather than images?
    • Stephen walks on towards the beach, lost in thought (nothing new here). While looking at some clouds, he has this weird primal experience in which he feels the spirit of the past around him.
    • As always, voices from the real world interrupt Stephen’s musings. He meets some of his school friends, who are swimming. He’s embarrassed by the awkwardness of their naked adolescent bodies (even though we’re pretty sure that Stephen’s just as awkward and gawky underneath his clothes and his superior attitude!).
    • The boys exchange lighthearted banter, and we sense that Stephen is more popular than he was before. That’s pretty understandable, seeing as the whole religious zealot act probably didn’t win him too many points in the social arena.
    • His schoolmates jibe him a little about his weird name, which sets Stephen on another tangential flight of fancy. This time, he thinks about his last name, Dedalus, which is certainly not your average Irish moniker.
    • So, remember when we told you not to forget about Daedalus, the Greek inventor dude from the epigraph? This is a good time to look back and brush up on his story. As you may recall, Daedalus was, like, the most amazing craftsman ever. He appears in a number of Greek myths, and was constantly in demand for his awesomeness. Here, Stephen conjures up the image of Daedalus’s most famous invention, the feather-and-wax wings he made for himself and his young son, Icarus. The two of them escaped from the island of Crete by flying away; however, Icarus got a little over-excited and flew too high. It doesn’t take a master craftsman to figure out what happened next: Wax Wings + Hot Sun = Bye Bye, Young Birdboy.
    • Anyway, let’s return to our young Mr. Dedalus. Stephen imagines a "hawklike" man flying out over the sea to be a symbol for the great artist who creates something incredible out of everyday experience. This great artist, obviously, is what Stephen hopes to be. Let’s just hope he doesn’t fly too close to the sun.
    • Stephen feels his soul taking flight – finally, he knows what his destiny is! In this moment of epiphany, he suddenly realizes that he has left behind his uncertain boyhood. He feels a fierce and wild urge to create something vibrant and living.
    • A sudden wanderlust explodes in Stephen, and he feels a desperate need to get away and see the world. He takes off his shoes and heads down to the water.
    • Stephen feels a new wildness moving through his veins, and he wonders at the beauty of the landscape around him. He feels alone and happy in a new kind of life.
    • Suddenly, Stephen notices a girl standing and looking out to sea. She is shockingly beautiful, and he envisions her as a magical seabird.
    • The girl notices him and meets his gaze for a while, before looking down and blushing.
    • Stephen’s soul cries out for joy – he tears himself away from her and goes down the beach.
    • He imagines the girl has called to him, as though she were a wild angel, inspiring him to create art.
    • Stephen feels the world around him, and he finally feels able to locate his place within it. He falls asleep and dreams rapturous dreams.
    • When Stephen awakes, he is still filled with joy.

  • Chapter 5

    • Stephen eats a foul-sounding breakfast of watery tea, fried bread, and bacon fat in the Dedalus kitchen. He leafs through a box of pawnshop tickets, further evidence that the family is getting poorer and poorer.
    • The clock is an hour and twenty-five minutes too fast (presumably they can’t afford to get it fixed), and Stephen is running late for his lectures. We gather that he’s a university student now.
    • Mrs. Dedalus nags Stephen a little about getting to class on time.
    • Stephen allows his mother to scrub his face and tut-tut over him before he leaves.
    • Mr. Dedalus yells down to ask rudely if Stephen is gone yet, and his little sisters cover for him as he sneaks out the back door.
    • Stephen’s mother comments sadly that the University has changed him, and in response, he sarcastically kisses his hand at his family as he leaves.
    • As he walks to school through piles of garbage, he hears a crazy nun screaming in the religious insane asylum near his house.
    • Stephen is full of disgust (nothing new here) for his surroundings. To take his mind off the dirty city around him, he thinks of his favorite writers.
    • Stephen has been thinking a lot more about literature; he spends much of his time puzzling over certain texts. He goes back and forth between his intellectual world and the real one.
    • The clock strikes eleven, and he thinks of an acquaintance named MacCann, who told Stephen that he’s an anti-social being.
    • There’s an incredible confusion with time here, even outside of the disorderly Dedalus household. Stephen isn’t even sure what day it is, and many of the clocks around seem to be off somehow. However, he knows that it is eleven o’clock, which means that he’s late for a French lecture. He imagines the English class he just missed – in his mental image, everyone else is hunched over their notes except for Stephen and his friend Cranly whose monk-like face he sees in great detail.
    • Stephen walks down a lane, looking from side to side at the shop signs, but they seem to lose their meaning, leaving him surrounded by metaphorical piles of "dead language."
    • Language again captures Stephen’s imagination. He recalls bits and pieces of texts he’s learned, which seem inane to him now.
    • Stephen muses on his study of the Classics; he feels like his book of Horace is still somehow vibrant and "human," but he’s worried that he’ll never get much further in his study of the world’s cultures.
    • A statue reminds Stephen of his friend and fellow student Davin, who is like a young "peasant." Davin has an earnest attitude and openness that Stephen admires. Davin is a believer in the "sorrowful legend" of Ireland, and he identifies with the nationalist movement.
    • Davin refers to Stephen as "Stevie," which we find quite cute.
    • Stephen remembers a story Davin told him about his home village: after a hurling match (FYI- hurling is a traditional Irish sport that’s kind of like full-contact field hockey), Davin stops at a house for a glass of water. The young woman who answers the door tries to get him to stay the night with her, saying that her husband is away. There’s something desperate in the way she asks him. Davin leaves her but sees she is still standing in the doorway as he walks off down the road.
    • This story brings to mind images of other women Stephen has seen standing in doorways, looking out; he attributes some quality of these images to the Irish "race."
    • A girl selling flowers interrupts Stephen. She begs him to buy a bunch of blue flowers. Stephen is briefly touched, then irritated by her.
    • Stephen walks down Grafton Street, Dublin’s main thoroughfare. He notices a slab in the sidewalk in memory of Wolfe Tone (awesome name, right?), an Irish revolutionary of the 18th century. Stephen bitterly remembers attending the dedication of the slab with his father.
    • Stephen finally arrives at University College, located near Stephen’s Green Park. Once there, he feels oddly disconnected from the Dublin of the outside world.
    • It’s too late to make it to French class, so Stephen decides to hang out and wait for his next lecture, Physics.
    • A priest (the dean of studies) is trying to light a fire in the Physics classroom. Stephen, outwardly polite as ever, asks if he can help.
    • The dean pompously tells Stephen that there’s an art to lighting a fire; he diligently goes about demonstrating said art.
    • Stephen watches, thinking about how much the priest resembles some ancient servant of the Lord, preparing the temple for a sacrifice. His body and soul have grown old in this servitude, but, as Stephen reflects, have come no closer to divinity.
    • Stephen and the dean watch the fire catch. Stephen comments that he’s sure he couldn’t light a fire.
    • The dean asks Stephen if he can define beauty, since he’s an artist. Artist or no artist, what a question!
    • Stephen responds cleverly with some quotations from St. Thomas Aquinas. The priest commends him and then goes to open the door.
    • Looking into the dean’s eyes, Stephen sees what he thinks of as the soul of a Jesuit, unenthusiastic and joyless.
    • Stephen and the dean continue their high falutin’ aesthetic discussion. The dean asks Stephen what he’s been working on; Stephen responds that he has been thinking about Aquinas and Aristotle – their knowledge is the "light" he works by. He makes a passing comment about having to find a new (intellectual) lamp once he’s done reading these authors.
    • This goes over the dean’s head. He misunderstands and thinks Stephen is talking about an actual lamp. He tries to impress Stephen by bringing in some story about an actual lamp owned by Epictetus (a Greek philosopher).
    • Stephen is profoundly unimpressed by this overly literal turn in the conversation. He inwardly comments that the priest’s face is itself like an unlit lamp, darkened by a dull and torpid soul.
    • Stephen tells the dean up front that the lamp he’s talking about isn’t actually a lamp. Oh snap.
    • The dean tries to cover up his mistake; Stephen rubs it in a little, masking his sardonic attitude with a kind of false politeness.
    • The priest makes a futile attempt to engage in deep conversation with Stephen – this is kind of an embarrassing moment for everyone involved. He starts talking about the proper care of a lamp, including pouring fresh oil into it through a funnel.
    • Stephen gets caught up on the word "funnel" – he thinks of this object as a "tundish," a word that the priest is not familiar with. It’s actually a word we’re not familiar with, either, so we can’t really blame the dean, here.
    • The appearance of "tundish" sparks a whole other mini-crisis in Stephen. He looks closely at the dean, an English import living in Ireland, and wonders what brought him to the priesthood.
    • Stephen is sick of the conversation. He makes a stinging comment that attempts to return to the question of aesthetic; on the inside, he’s still hung up on the whole tundish thing. He is disheartened by the fact that the language they’re speaking belongs to the priest, an Englishman, and not to him. He has a heightened awareness of his other-ness. (Interesting fact: before the Irish people were colonized by the jolly chaps, they spoke another language, Gaelic.)
    • The dean returns to the topic of aesthetics, but both parties have lost their enthusiasm for this particular conversation. The rest of Stephen’s classmates start to filter in. The dean ends by encouraging Stephen to continue his artistic pursuits.
    • Stephen feels pity for the priest and for the whole brotherhood of monks… how could he ever have entertained the notion of such a futile existence?
    • The professor enters, and Physics class begins. Roll call is first; Cranly is absent.
    • We meet Stephen’s neighbor in the lecture hall, Moynihan. He’s a rambunctious guy, and seems to be one of Stephen’s buddies. As much as a loner like Stephen has buddies at all, that is.
    • The professor lectures dryly and attempts unsuccessfully to lighten things up a little with a quote from the comic opera The Mikado. The quote is about playing pool with elliptical billiard balls, and Moynihan makes an obvious joke about having ellipsoidal balls. Oh, the subtlety of his wit just astounds us. It is kind of nice to see that Stephen has some peers that aren’t deadly serious, though.
    • The professor drones on. Stephen and Moynihan exchange snarky remarks. We can recall some scenes like this from our own university careers…
    • A somewhat brownnosing student from Northern Ireland named McAlister asks a question about an upcoming exam. Moynihan makes a characteristically rude remark; Stephen has similarly resentful thoughts but tries to restrain them.
    • The lecture ends, and the students emerge into the hall, where MacCann (the guy who called Stephen anti-social) is encouraging them to sign a petition of some sort.
    • Stephen meets up with Cranly and asks him if he’s signed the petition. Cranly responds in Latin, saying that he has. The petition, apparently, is for universal peace (pretty optimistic, if you ask us).
    • Cranly has signed, but he doesn’t seem too enthused. The two bicker like an old married couple in a blend of Latin and English (Latglish? Engtin?).
    • Moynihan approaches to share his enthusiasm for MacCann’s petition with Stephen. Cranly expresses his dislike for Moynihan. Apparently, they used to be friends, but now Cranly calls the other guy "a flaming bloody sugar." Wow, Cranly, that’s quite an… interesting insult.
    • Stephen wonders if Cranly will ever talk about him the same way. To him, Cranly’s language has none of the quaintness of Davin’s countrified speech; Cranly speaks the language of Dublin.
    • MacCann comes up and asks Stephen to sign the petition. Stephen’s so not into it. He and MacCann get all up in each other’s faces, and the other students gather round to see what will happen.
    • A dark, "gipsylike" student, Temple, tries to get involved but is generally ignored.
    • Stephen and MacCann’s argument escalates, and Cranly plays the peacemaker. Stephen disengages from the conversation.
    • Temple clearly is a great admirer of Stephen – we’re not guessing this, since he actually comes right out and says it ("I admire you, sir").
    • As the three of them leave the crowd, Stephen tries to be polite to MacCann, saying that his signature is unimportant. MacCann responds by basically saying that Stephen’s a good guy, but that he needs to think more about other people (which, actually, is probably true).
    • MacAlister, the Northern Ireland student Stephen and Moynihan talked about in lecture, pipes up as they walk away, basically just saying good riddance.
    • Temple, trying to get in with Stephen, comments that MacAlister is just jealous. He’s sure Cranly didn’t notice this, but he (Temple) did. We’re starting to get the feeling that Stephen is kind of a rock star among some of the students.
    • Temple makes another snide little comment, this time about one of the prefects of the college, who apparently was married and had kids before he joined the priesthood. He cackles sketchily.
    • This is the last straw for Cranly. He’s already sick of Temple, and now he grabs and shakes the annoying little bugger. His favorite curse word, "flaming," makes many appearances here.
    • Temple just keeps giggling away as Cranly attacks him; Stephen doesn’t do anything.
    • The three come upon some students playing a ball game; Davin is among them. Temple keeps harassing Stephen, this time asking him what he thinks about Rousseau.
    • Temple is too ridiculous. Seriously. Stephen just laughs at him, and Cranly, who has had it up to here with this hanger-on, half-jokingly threatens him with a stick. Then, he whips out one of our all-time favorite phrases in this book: "You might as well be talking, do you know, to a flaming chamberpot as talking to Temple." AWESOME.
    • Before he slinks away, Temple asserts that he is only interested in Stephen, not Cranly, because only Stephen has an independent mind.
    • Another student, Lynch, makes himself known at this point. Lynch and Cranly wrestle halfheartedly, then break apart.
    • Stephen ignores them and talks to Davin. Davin admits that he signed the petition.
    • Stephen makes fun of Davin and asks if his support of universal peace means that he’ll get rid of the Irish revolutionary training manual he has.
    • Davin tells "Stevie" that he’s "a born sneerer." Which he is.
    • Stephen sneers at Davin’s nationalist ideas some more. Davin demands to know if Stephen is even Irish at heart, with his lack of dedication to the country’s cause and his crazy name.
    • Davin asks why Stephen dropped out of their Irish language course (reviving spoken Gaelic was a big part of the Irish nationalist movement of the early 20th century, and it continues today). He suggests that it might be because a girl Stephen likes was talking to a priest a little too intimately.
    • That last remark hits home. Stephen asks Davin if he’s really as innocent as he seems.
    • Davin refers to an earlier conversation in which Stephen presumably told him about all of his earlier sins. The conversation upset Davin, but Stephen asserts that he is just what his country and his life have made him.
    • Davin asks a futile question: why can’t Stephen just be like the rest of them?
    • Stephen’s real issues with Irish nationalism emerge here. He accuses Davin and his party of destroying good men who believed in their ideals. Dare we say some of his issues with Daddy Dedalus are reemerging here...?
    • Davin tries to convince Stephen that Ireland should come first and poetry second. Stephen still doesn’t buy it. He vehemently derides Ireland as a pig that eats its own piglets.
    • Davin gives up and argues with Cranly about the ball game. Stephen is left with Lynch; the two go off together, and Lynch pokes fun at Cranly.
    • Like Cranly, Lynch has a trademark diss word: yellow. Stephen gets a real kick out of it.
    • Stephen launches into an explanation of his theory of aesthetics. Lynch complains halfheartedly; he was out getting trashed the night before and is too hungover for theories.
    • Stephen continues anyway. He’s discussing Aristotle’s definition of tragedy, which must evoke both pity and terror. Stephen is interested in the separate components of pity and terror.
    • The ideas Stephen puts forth are theoretically interesting but very dry. He argues that "proper" art should not excite physical desire.
    • Lynch challenges this point, citing a comical incident in which he wrote his name on the backside of a famous statue of Venus to somehow express physical desire.
    • Stephen attempts to explain this as a simple "reaction of the nerves." It sounds to us a little like he’s flying by the seat of his pants.
    • Lynch asks Stephen about the definition of beauty, upon which Stephen obligingly pontificates (sounds like his wordiness may be starting to rub off on us…).
    • Stephen focuses on the "static" nature of beauty. According to him, true beauty has an arresting affect, and it somehow halts and suspends the mind of the observer.
    • Lynch is unconvinced. Stephen tries to explain himself further by bringing in a discussion of female beauty. His ultimate explanation is that the experience of beauty is a personal one; we can’t generalize about a thing being definitely beautiful or definitely un-beautiful, since people react to it differently. However, it is their reactions to what they perceive to be beautiful that share certain qualities.
    • Lynch pokes fun at Stephen for his fondness for St. Thomas Aquinas.
    • The two friends run into a profoundly dull fellow student, Donovan, who insists on talking to them. Stephen and Lynch tolerate him (barely), but both obviously look down upon him and his inferior intellect.
    • Donovan has heard through the grapevine that Stephen is attempting to write about aesthetics. Stephen denies it, even though we (and Lynch, and probably poor Donovan himself) know perfectly well that he is.
    • Donovan leaves, and Stephen continues by relating Aquinas’ theory that wholeness, harmony, and radiance (integritas, consonantia, claritas) are the necessary ingredients for beauty. Stephen has his own spin one each of these elements, which he explains at great length.
    • Next, Stephen, who apparently just never tires, moves to the topic of art. He claims that there are three types of art: lyrical, epical (is that even a word?), and dramatic. He’s been thinking a lot about these different categories. Obviously, to Stephen, this is Very Serious Business.
    • Lynch laughs. It’s uncertain whether anything is serious to him.
    • The two companions arrive at the university library. Cranly is there, as well as the girl Stephen is in love with.
    • Stephen watches the girl, remembering the last time he saw her, when he was sure she was flirting with a priest.
    • The sight of the girl knocks out all of his ambitious theories, and all of his courage, as well. He kind of spaces out and distracts himself by listening to a dull conversation going on next to him.
    • The girl gets ready to leave with her friends. Stephen’s feelings are all in a jumble. He’s not sure what he feels and wonders if he judged her "simple and wilful" heart too harshly before.
    • Before dawn that morning, Stephen awakens, filled with poetic inspiration. His state of ecstasy is described in hyperbolic terms.
    • Stephen’s dream/vision/whatever combined elements of religious imagery of the Virgin Mary with real memories of his object of affection. Stephen is seized by a poetic paroxysm; we see him in the act of creation. He hurries to write down the verses that come to him before he forgets them.
    • We actually get to see Stephen’s work for the first time. Eh, it’s okay. It’s a villanelle (a convoluted, medieval verse form with lots of rhyming), and it seems a little stiff because of its adherence to formal rules. But after all, Stephen is still young. We’re meant to see the poem’s flaws but also the genuine feeling that lies behind it.
    • Stephen relives some of his moments with his beloved. He remembers a few isolated moments: he played and sang songs for her, danced with her at a ball, saw her talking with Father Moran at Irish class. This last image confuses and angers Stephen. Negative encounters with women flood his mind, and he focuses his attention on the figure of the priest, his so-called rival. Stephen pictures himself as a priest in the cult of art.
    • This thought brings him back to the poem. He finishes writing it down and is exhausted as the morning light fills the room.
    • Stephen reveals that these are the first verses he’s written for this girl in ten years, ever since they stood together waiting for a tram. That finally allows us to identify her as Emma, the E.C. of his first love poem back in Chapter Two.
    • He wonders if he should send the poem to her. He’s embarrassed at the thought that her family might see it, so he decides against it.
    • Stephen feels as though he may have wronged Emma by thinking of her so badly, and he ponders her innocence.
    • Stephen has the titillating thought that Emma might mystically have known he was thinking of her. This arouses him – the first time we’ve seen him show any sexual desire for a while! Surely this means that he has made some personal progress. Stephen has a steamy mental image of the woman in his poem (part Emma, part seductress).
    • We see the entire villanelle, in which Stephen rhymes "ardent ways" with "enchanted days." Oh, brother.
    • Next, Stephen is in the city, observing some birds. He thinks of his mother as he watches them wheel around above, and their cries drown out the memory of her crying. He sees her face in the patterns the flying birds weave in the sky.
    • Stephen wonders if there’s any truth or use to the ancient art of augury (basically, trying to guess what things will happen by looking at pattern of flying birds).
    • We find out that Stephen is actually going to leave Ireland (which is probably why his mother was crying and reproaching him). He wonders if the birds are a symbol of departure or of loneliness.
    • Stephen finds Cranly in the library, talking chess with a mild-mannered medical student, Dixon. A priest complains that they are being too loud, and the three of them leave.
    • On their way out, they encounter a dwarf, whom they refer to only as "the captain." He has a fondness for the novels of Sir Walter Scott, and Cranly chats with him about his reading.
    • Stephen wonders if a rumor that the captain is the son of an incestuous aristocratic couple (brother and sister) is true. He imagines the scene of seduction and is disturbed when the hand of the brother in his mental image belongs to Davin.
    • Dixon and Stephen continue across the hall, leaving Cranly behind. Another student urges them to come over; Temple is making a scene again.
    • This time he’s harping on about genealogy – why, we don’t know. Cranly, a couple of other students, and Temple all spar verbally. Temple admits that he’s a "ballocks" and doesn’t know anything – and says that Cranly is the same but just won’t admit it.
    • Stephen wonders if Cranly is blushing because of Temple’s insult. He wonders if the insult is true, and, if so, whether it explains the way his friend shuts him down sometimes.
    • While he waits for Cranly to talk, Stephen is distracted by his desires, particularly his highly physical desire for Emma.
    • A louse bites Stephen on the neck, bringing him back to reality. Irritated, he squishes it and imagines other lice falling from him.
    • He angrily thinks that Emma could love someone else instead of him – perhaps some hairy-chested jock.
    • Cranly is eating dried figs and hanging out with the other students we saw earlier (such as Temple).
    • Another student, Glynn, comes up and gets into a religious argument with Temple. The others are all annoyed by Temple once again. Cranly actually gets up and chases Temple.
    • Temple gets away, as usual, and Cranly returns in a foul temper. Stephen reminds him that they’ve got to talk; they walk away.
    • Stephen reveals that he has been in a fight with his mom. She wants him to go to church for Easter, but he refuses to serve a God he now doubts. He neither believes nor "disbelieves" in the symbols and services of the Catholic Church.
    • Stephen admits that he used to believe in the Church, but he was a different person then.
    • Cranly demands to know whether or not Stephen loves his mother, and more generally, if he has ever loved another person before.
    • Stephen says he tried to love God; he doesn’t give a straight answer to Cranly’s earnest question.
    • Cranly says that he should just do whatever will please his mother, who has had a hard life, since it wouldn’t require much effort from Stephen.
    • Cranly calls Stephen out on the inconsistency of his views; Stephen is shocked when Cranly says something heretical about Jesus, even though he claims to not believe in the Catholic Church anymore anyway. He’s not free enough from the Church’s rules to hear heresy spoken without flinching.
    • Stephen admits that he is still afraid that Catholic doctrine may be true, even if he doesn’t necessarily believe that it is.
    • As they walk, the two boys hear a woman singing a love song. It soothes them for a moment, and Stephen imagines a woman singing in church.
    • The singing ends, and Cranly repeats the refrain of the song. He asks Stephen if he knows what the song means – what to love and be loved means.
    • Stephen knows it is time for him to leave. He feels his friendship with Cranly coming to an end.
    • He tells Cranly that he must go away. Cranly wants to know what Stephen will do to achieve his goal of becoming an artist and a free individual.
    • Cranly asks Stephen if he’s worried about being alone. Stephen isn’t, but Cranly presses the issue, asking if he’s sure he will be all right without even one friend, and without the companionship of someone who is more than a friend (Mother? Father? Lover? God?). We’re not sure whom Cranly is talking about, and neither is Stephen. He asks, but Cranly doesn’t answer.
    • The section that follows, the last in the book, is where the narrative voice changes from third person to first person. Suddenly we are given direct access to Stephen’s thoughts, as written in his journal.
    • The first entry relates the conversation we just witnessed with Cranly. Stephen wonders what Cranly’s family is like, and he concludes that Cranly’s mother must be an old woman.
    • The next morning, he has an odd revelation; Cranly is like John the Baptist. Stephen also refers to Cranly in the past tense, as though their relationship has already ended. He thinks of Cranly’s face as a death mask.
    • Later that day (the date is given: March 21), Stephen writes that he is "soul free and fancy free." We’re not entirely sure we believe him, but the general sentiment is that he is disentangled from everyone who was holding him back. His makes curious statement, "Let the dead bury the dead. Ay. And let the dead marry the dead," which implies that the rest of the people around him are the dead (historical context alert: Joyce’s first book, a collection of short stories called Dubliners, featured a story called "The Dead").
    • With Lynch, Stephen follows a plump hospital nurse home. Sooooo sketchy (don’t worry, it was Lynch’s idea). It makes Stephen feel like a predator.
    • Stephen notes that he hasn’t seen Emma since the night outside the library.
    • Stephen and his mother get into an argument about the B.V.M (a rather comical acronym for the Blessed Virgin Mary). Stephen’s mother seems to think that he must – and will – come back to religion once his mind is not so "restless."
    • Stephen goes to University College, talks with an Italian acquaintance, and, oddly, gets a risotto recipe.
    • He walks through St. Stephen’s Green, his park, and reflects on the fact that the religion to which Ireland is devoted was not even invented by the Irish.
    • Stephen goes to the library and tries to do some reading, but he’s distracted by the thought of Emma, who he still hasn’t seen.
    • Stephen has "a troubled night of dreams," which he relates here. First, he describes a curved room filled with stone statues of kings (probably reflecting a diorama mentioned briefly just before, which depicted famous men). They look on, weary and watching. Next, there’s a weirder image of short, indistinct figures with creepy phosphorescent faces.
    • Outside the library, Stephen sees Cranly lecturing Dixon and Emma’s brother, talking again about mothers and children. Stephen’s tone towards Cranly is resentful.
    • A couple of days pass. Stephen finally sees Emma out and about. To add insult to injury, Cranly has been invited to join her and her brother. Stephen bitterly wonders if Cranly is the new rock star philosopher at the University. He angrily comments that he "discovered" Cranly.
    • Stephen runs into Davin, who asks if he’s really going away. Stephen comments that "the fastest way to Tara is viâ Holyhead, which basically means that the best way to achieve Irishness is to leave Ireland (Holyhead is a Welsh port town that harbors ferries from Ireland).
    • Mr. Dedalus comes up and makes small talk to Davin, who has to leave for a meeting. Stephen’s father likes Davin immediately. We see that he has some very ordinary, optimistic goals for Stephen, like joining a rowing club and studying law. He must not really know his son very well if he thinks these things could possibly happen.
    • It’s springtime in Dublin, and Stephen is in unusually high spirits, which in this case means thinking about blushing girls.
    • Emma must remember the past – Stephen believes this because Lynch says all women do (the way Stephen talks about women like they were a different species never ceases to infuriate and amuse). Stephen makes a rather pompous comment about how she must remember her childhood, and his – if he ever was a child. Sigh. Same old melodramatic Stephen.
    • Stephen mentions Michael Robartes, a character in several Yeats poems (see "Shout Outs"), who longs to hold in his arms a beauty that has passed. Stephen comments rather presumptuously that he wants to press in his arms the beauty that has yet to come into the world.
    • Stephen writes a kind of prose poem (April 10 entry); he wonders if Emma would like it. He concludes that she would, and thus that he should, too.
    • The tundish from the first section of Chapter Five is still on Stephen’s mind. He looks it up in the dictionary and discovers that it’s plain old English. He’s upset that the dean of studies didn’t know to acknowledge this, and he wonders what the point is of the English coming to educate the Irish if they don’t even know their own language.
    • A guy named Mulrennan returns from travels in western Ireland. He met an old man there in a remote mountain cabin, whose isolation frightens and angers Stephen.
    • Stephen and Emma run into each other in town. They have an awkward discussion; she asks him a bunch of questions. He responds somewhat rudely, realizes it, and attempts to do better. He tries to make up for it by telling her about his plans and future travels, and in his excitement, he makes an embarrassing gesture. They part politely.
    • For the first time, we see the Emma-Stephen relationship as an actual interaction between two people. Hurrah!
    • He admits that he liked her today – Emma for herself, not what he "thought [he] thought" or "felt [he] felt" before. This is too much to cope with though, and he decides to go to bed.
    • Stephen is getting ready to go. He feels the call of the road and the sea.
    • Stephen’s mother seems resigned to his departure; she is packing his "new secondhand clothes" for him. She hopes that he will learn what the heart really is when he’s away.
    • Stephen is ecstatic in these last few lines. He welcomes life and all it has to offer, saying that he will go and "forge" the conscience of his people through his writing.
    • Finally, the novel ends as Stephen invokes Daedalus one last time. He refers to the craftsman as "old father, old artificer," and asks him to keep watch over his namesake.