Po Trait of an Artist as a Young Man

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Spring K | St. John | AP LIT

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Q&A

Part I
1. Simon Dedalus and John Casey argue with Dante Riordan, a devout supporter of the priests who disowned Charles Parnell over his adultery with Kitty O’Shea. Dedalus and Casey feel that the church and the state should be separated, that religion should not be an influence in the subject of politics. Dante, on the other hand, sees the priests as God’s representatives, saying that it was right for Parnell to be disowned from his position because he had sinned. Stephen was brought up as a devout Catholic, but when he is exposed to the argument during Christmas Dinner, Stephen experiences a new perspective on religion due to his father’s beliefs, and also Mr. Casey’s when he argues with Dante, saying, “We have too much God in Ireland. Away with God!” 2. Stephen is more of an outsider when it comes to him and the other boys at Clongowes Wood College. When other kids are playing ball, Stephen doesn’t participate. Some boys also do not treat him very nicely, making fun of his name and both his parents, asking about his social rank, and pushing him in ditches. The way Stephen interprets God and himself separates him from the other children; Stephen focuses on the cosmos and wonders above religion; his passion for art shines through at an early age. When he meditates on the red rose and white rose, ‘those were beautiful colours to think of.” It seems that Stephen is ignoring politics and history, and merely seeing the beauty of it. 3. Stephen meets Eileen Vance, the daughter of his wealthy neighbor. In young Stephen’s eyes his first female encounter is innocent and she acts as an icon for the Virgin Mary. Eileen has long white hands like the Tower of Ivory and fair gold hair like the House of Gold. Eileen is a protestant and “Protestants used to make fun of the litany of the Blessed Virgin”, therefore Dante doesn’t want Stephen to have any association with her. 4. In class, the prefect notices that Stephen is not working, and Father Arnall tells Father Dolan that it Stephen is excused from class work because his glasses are broken. Despite this being the truth, the prefect pandies (or lashes his hands) Stephen anyway. Later, the boys urge Stephen to denounce the prefect to the rector, and when he does it, the boys lift him over their heads like a hero. Here, Stephen questions whether or not priests are allowed to hurt sinners, even though priests are supposed to be kind and gentle, as the servers of God. None of the wrongdoings in Part I has any crimes of malice. When Stephen wishes to marry Eileen, the boys caught in homosexual activity, or Parnell and his relationship with another woman. Neither of these demonstrates any harm directly upon another, and when Stephen defends himself from the prefect, he acts as a representative of all the others who are unfairly punished.

Part II
5. Stephen spends the summer in Blackrock, a town near Dublin, and hangs out with his father and Uncle Charles, where the two adults engage in conversations about politics. Stephen doesn’t understand many of their references. At home, Stephen reads the novel ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ and uses this book as an escape from his family’s finance issues. He befriends Aubrey Mills, and together they reenact the adventures of ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’. Stephen feels different from the children his age, especially when he goes to a birthday party where he is singing along but enjoys feeling separate from them. Stephen feels that he is in touch with something else that other kids are not, and he imagines a future moment where he will reach a revelation. 6. Stephen becomes aware that the moralizing voices of his early years have “now come to be hollow-sounding in his ears.” His friends, Heron and Wallis, tease Stephen a lot. They engage in an argument over which English Poet is the best, and the novel’s technique of stream of consciousness is put into play,...
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