Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Portrait of the Artist (Chapter 1)

Discuss how the themes and motifs we discovered in the first page and a half of the text are significant elsewhere in chapter one. (We discovered other, related motifs and themes, repeated elsewhere in the first chapter; you might right about this too -- or instead.) Analyze the significance of the motifs and themes in specific passages.

Discuss how the way the book is written -- the narrative perspective, point of view, and voice; the impressionistic, episodic narrative style -- is significant. Analyze the style and voice in specific passages.

(If you'd like something a little more specific you could explain how the first page and half teach the reader how to read the book by introducing the narrative style, motifs, and themes that pervade the rest of the novel.)


Katina T said...

The main theme that grabs my attention is Stephen's state of feeling uncomfortable in his surroundings. On the first page of the book, Stephen mentions the uncomfortable sensation of wetting the bed and its strange smell. Lines of poetry/rhymes are instantly brought up after he talks about these feelings. It occurs again when Stephen has a crush on a Protestant girl and is told not to like her. In these instances, it’s as if Stephen uses these examples of poetry to comfort him in a world where he feels isolated. Later on in the chapter, Stephen tries to figure out where he fits in the world. He makes a list – “Stephen Dedalus, Class of Elements, Clongowes Wood College, Sallins, County Kildare, Ireland, Europe, The World, The Universe.” Already at such a young age, Stephen is pondering who he is and where he stands in the world. Before Stephen even realizes it, his use of poetry at a young age, is a possible foreshadowing of how he is destined to become an artist.

The way Portrait is written instantly puts you in Stephen’s mind. It’s written through Stephen’s perspective but is written in third person. Although you have a keen insight into Stephen’s thoughts…not all of his thoughts are clear to the reader, because like everyone else, some thoughts only make sense in Stephen’s head, not the readers. Although sometimes confusing, it is written this way for a reason. Joyce wants the reader to make their own impressions yet be slightly influenced by the symbolism slyly mentioned through out the novel.

Megan Keegan said...

The first page and a half does a very good job of introducing the reader to how the rest of the book should be read. By Stephen telling a story about a story, it exposes the reader to the unique style of writing that the rest of the book exhibits. Personally, when I read the first page and a half I was extremely confused. It is rare that a book is written in third person and even stranger that it would open up with a story about a moocow and baby tuckoo. Several images are hidden in the context of these introductory pages, the first of which being color. In the story about the moocow it says: “On the little green place, O the green wothe botheth.” The color green reminds me of new growth in this case, which corresponds with the line before it “O, the wild rose blossoms.” I think of a new life for the baby tuckoo and how it is being exposed to the world for the first time. Throughout the book, colors that surround Stephen tend to dictate his mood. He gets different feelings depending on what colors he sees. Also introduced at the beginning of the book is the idea that Stephen doesn’t get along with his father. It says, “His mother had a nicer smell than his father.” This leads the reader to believe that Stephen prefers his mother to his father. In the rest of the book, Stephen’s relationship with his father greatly influences many of his decisions.