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Stephen Dedalus, a young boy who grows up with the predisposition to become a writer.
Ireland as Stephen sees it, and more generally, the constraints of social conventions.
Stephen is walking on the beach and sees a girl wading in the water. He feels joyous at the sight of her, connecting her image with his idea of himself as an artist who will render the earthly reality of experience into something life-giving and timeless.
Stephen leaves Ireland to search for a way to live freely.