Thursday, April 3, 2008

Portrait Readers notebook

Class notes: December 3, 2007

“Tell us, Dedalus, do you kiss your mother every night… What was the right answer to the question?”

- kissing his mother à Oedipus complex

- persecution of innocence à loss of innocence à

“Brother Michael was standing at the door … Was he not holy enough or why

could he not catch up to the others.” (pg. 34)

- Why does he use queer?

- Queer means weird

- Why can’t Brother Michael be a preist?

o Stephen is trying to make sense of the structure of the roles in society.

o Stephen’s relationship with the boys vs. Brother Michael and the priests.

o Brother Michael religious allusion

o Going down the hallway, dark tunnel light at the end. Brother Michael standing at the door. Dead traveling to gates of heaven Angel Michael guarding the gates.

“Dingdong! The castle bells…And two to carry my soul away.” Pg 35.

- bells signify death,

- Stephen feels sad for the purpose of the words and imagines that they are depressed.

“He blessed himself quickly… his face was pale and strained and he wore the white cloak of a marshal.” (pg. 31)

- warmth from fire…

- Fire à Hearth à Home.

- Home coming, comfort

Chpt 1

- memory of childhood

- Stephen at school – (buildings Roman )

becomes sick… awakening

- Dinner @ the Daedelus’, Church vs. State. Morality?

- Back to school. Guilt, trouble, etc. Stealing wine etc. Punishment for broken glasses + Stephen triumph

“He read the verses backward but then they were not poetry… God always remained always the same God and God’s real name is God.”

- this passage shows how different Stephen’s thought processes are from other kids. Very profound ideas about God and religion.

“There was a cold night smell in the chapel… It made him afraid to think of how it was.” (pg. 30)

- scent tied to memory.

“ The fellows talked together in little groups… And then when all were vested he had stood holding out the boat to the rector and the rector had put a spoonful of incense in and it had hissed on the red coals.” (49)

- Stephen is very appalled by what the boys had done.

- He separated himself from the boys to avoid any poor falling.


“Stephen looked with affection at Mr. Casey’s dark face… the light at the pierhead and the moanof sorrow from the people when they had heard.” (pg 44-45)

- Parnell clashed with Church repeatedly.

- Dante didn’t want Stephen to play with Eileen.

Chapter 2:

- Uncle Charles and his bathroom experience, Stephen’s summer, the magic moment with Mercedes.

- Fathers conversation, Mabel hunter, Stephen tries to write a poem. Dad retells Stephens triumph.

- Heron and Nash meet up w/ Stephen, Tennyson vs. Byron



Journal entries:

“It would be nice to lie on the hearthrug before the fire, leaning his head upon his hands, and think on those sentences. He shivers as if he had cold slimy water on his skin.” Pg. 23

This is the earliest mentioning of fire in the novel. In this instance Joyce has Stephen link fire with thoughts of warmth and comfort, an idea that was very influential in the early chapters.

“He saw the dark entrance hall of the castle. Old Servants in old dress were in the ironing room above the stair case. It was long ago. The old servants were quiet. There was a fire there but the hall was still dark. A figure came up the staircase from the hall. He wore the white cloak of a marshal; his face was pale and strange; he held his hand pressed to his side. He looked strange eyes at the old servants. They looked at him and saw their master’s face and cloak and knew that he received his deathwound … Their master had received his deathwound on the battlefield of Prague far away over seas. ”

Pg. 31

This excerpt is rather distinctive. It is found in the first chapter where fire is used as a representation of warmth and comfort. This passage differs from the other representations because the fire mentioned in it, casts no light or warmth. Joyce uses the fire in this case to represent the home. In classical literature a home was often referred to as a hearth, physically the hearth was a part of the fireplace. The Ancient Greeks and Romans even had a goddess devoted only to the well being of the hearth. This passage is about the ghost of a man returning to his home after dieing in battle thousands of miles away. Despite being the dead, the man must return home.

“ I was standing at the end of the South Terrace one day with some maneens like myself and sure we thought er were grand fellows because we had pipes in the corner of our mouths. Suddenly the governor passed. He didn’t say a word or stop even. But the next day, Sunday, we were out for a walk together andwhen we were coming home he took out his cigar case and said . Suddenly the governor passed. He didn’t say a word or stop even. But the next day, Sunday, we were out for a walk together andwhen we were coming home he took out his cigar case and said By the bye, simon, I didn’t know you smoked…” pg. 91

This passage deals with a conversation between Stephen and his father. The anecdote stems from a tale Mr. Dedalus has about being caught smoking as a young man. Just to be clear the smoke itself is a reference to fire, but the action of smoking directly entails a feeling of maturity. Whether or not that is the case can only be determined by the person reading the novel.

“He burned to appease the fierce longing of his heart before which everthing else was idle and alien. He cared little that he was in mortal sin, that his life had grown to be a tissue of subterfuge and falsehood. Beside the savage desire within him to realize the enormity which he brooded on nothing was sacred.” Pg. 97

Stephen’s burning desire directly entails his baser instincts. Under extreme duress Stephen wanders into the seedier parts of the city and is ready to “sate his thirst.” Up until now fire has been a symbol of warmth and comfort. In a sense it has been the representation of Stephens innocence, at this point fire has become something referring to a more adult nature. Joyce changes the view of fire from being something that means comfort in childhood to becoming a representation of mortal sin. Joyce is using fire to gauge Stephens maturity.

“The dull light fell more faintly upon the page whereon another equation began to unfold itself slowly and to spread abroad its widening tail. It was his own soul going forth to experience, unfolding itself sin by sin, spreading abroad the balefire of its burning stars and folding back upon itself, fading slowly, quenching its own lights and fires. They were quenched: and the cold darkness filled chaos.” Pg. 100

In this passage Joyce uses the theme of fire as a representation of Stephen’s soul. The context of this passage is that Stephen is reflecting on his own sins. As he begins to think on them, he is also beginning to open up to himself. Up till this point Stephen has been a very sheltered young man. As such he held on to his own innocence for loner then most. But in losing that innocence Stephen has collapsed inward. As he thinks on his own sins he feels badly about them and begins to open up. But he then closes up and shoves them from his mind, causing his soul to fold in on itself and literally extinguish itself.

“The blundering answer stirred the embers of his contempt of his fellows. Towards others he felt neither shame nor fear. On Sunday mornings as he passed the churchdoor he glanced coldly at the worshippers who stood bareheaded, four deep, outside the church, morally present at he mass which the could neither see nor hear.”

Pg. 101

After Stephen has committed his sin, he feels a smoldering anger at the church goers. Stephen knows that many of the attendees were sinners like himself. He is enraged at their hypocrisy. Stephen is not so much enraged at the people as he is himself for allowing himself to fall from grace. Joyce uses the idea of a smoldering fire to show Stephen’s short temper.

“The boys were all there, kneeling in their places. He knelt among them, hapy and shy.

1 comment:

Derek D5 said...

When we originally began working on Portrait I kept a digital readers notebook. These are some of the notes and entries from that notebook. I chose these particular notes because Portrait was a very complex book and I feel like these notes area good reminder of how I dealt with understanding James Joyce.