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Free Study Guide-A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 5

Summary (continued)

As he labors through the metaphor of the lamp, he uses the word "funnel." Stephen wonders if "funnel" is the same thing as "tundish." The dean has never heard of this word and promises to look it up. Stephen feels the dean is being condescending toward the Irish word. His negative thoughts on the dean lead him to wonder at what brought him from England to Ireland and why he had chosen to join the Jesuits after that order had gone out of fashion. The dean is quite taken with the word "tundish." Stephen tries to return him to the question of the artist and how the artist can create beauty out of "lumps of earth." Stephen realizes that he is very sensitive on the point of the English language as a borrowed language in Ireland, on the fact that it is somehow not his own native language. He thinks to himself that the language he is speaking with the dean is not his own language. All its simple words are different when spoken by an Irish person and an English person. He realizes he cannot speak or write in English without feeling restless. As he is having these thoughts, the dean has moved on to discussing the distinction between the beautiful and the sublime, moral beauty and material beauty. Stephen feels hopeless about the dialogue. They are silent. The dean finally advises Stephen not to neglect his studies in pursuing these questions. He tells him he should work bit by bit to get to the level of a writer like Simon Moonan. Stephen replies that he might not have Moonanís talent.

At this, the students begin to come into the room. Stephen watches as the dean greets each student impartially. The professor enters and begins to call out the roll. The students call out sarcastic replies. Stephen borrows paper from Moynihan. He writes the formula down and thinks of the professorís reputation among the students as being an atheist freemason. He thinks of a line of mathematicians wandering through limbo "from plane to plane of ever rarer and paler twilight." The professor distinguishes between the word "elliptical" and "ellipsoidal." He quotes from a poem which uses the phrase "elliptical billiard balls." Moynihan leans forward and whispers a joke about balls in Stephenís ear. Stephen feels as though the cloister of his mind has been shaken into life. He imagines all the officials of the school playing together on the grounds like young schoolboys.

The physics professor takes out a set of coils and demonstrates his lesson. At each point, Moynihan reaches down and whispers something to make fun. Stephen hears a question from the student below him and feels a surge of hatred for this manís oblong head. He is half surprised that the man doesnít hear his thought and turn to look at him. Stephen realizes that the thought isnít even his own, but is actually something Moynihan would say. He asks himself who it was who betrayed Ireland, the questioner or the mocker. He cautions himself to be calm and remember Epicetus, whom the dean had previously quoted. Epicetus had said it was the thiefís nature to steal. Stephen says it is in this manís nature to ask questions and to pronounce the word "science" as a monosyllable. Finally, the class is over.


Stephen files out of the room with the other classmates. MacCann walks among the students answering their questions about the petition for universal peace. Cranly carries on a conversation with Stephen in Latin when Stephen asks him if he has signed a paper. Moynihan walks past whispering something in Stephenís ear that makes Stephen smile. Cranly curses Moynihan and Stephen wonders if he, too, will some day lose Cranlyís friendship. He thinks of Cranlyís speech, comparing it unfavorably to Davinís. Cranlyís speech comes from the decaying seaport of Dublin, "its energy an echo of the sacred eloquence of Dublin given back flatly by a Wicklow pulpit."

MacCann joins Stephen and Cranly and gets into a discussion with Stephen over Stephenís refusal to sign the petition. Other students crowd around to hear their witty talk. MacCann voices the idealism of the day such as the push for disarmament, the new humanity, and the greatest happiness for the greatest number. Temple, another student, stands by approving of the idea of universal brotherhood and is shushed by another student. Cranly tries to quiet Temple also. One man claims that socialism was founded by an Irishman. Moynihan whispers to Stephen a joke about this Irishmanís sister and her underwear. Stephen laughs.

MacCann pushes Stephen for an answer. Stephen tells him the petition doesnít interest him. MacCann wants to know if Stephen is a reactionary. Stephen says he is not impressed by MacCannís wooden sword. MacCann dismisses this as a metaphor and tells Stephen to come to facts. Stephen blushes and turns away. MacCann calls him a minor poet uninterested in trivial questions of peace. Stephen points to the Csarís picture which MacCann has posted up and says if they are to have a Jesus, they should have a legitimate one. Temple is delighted by Stephenís turn of phrase but doesnít understand it. He asks Stephen naive questions.

As Stephen is being led away by Cranly, he tells MacCann politely that they should try to go their own ways without such unnecessary disputes. MacCann tells him he is a good man, but should learn the value of altruism and individual responsibility. Another student, MacAlister, rudely calls Stephen an intellectual crank. As they walk through the hall, Stephen sees the dean of studies trying to escape a student. He sees the prefect of the college sodality speaking earnestly about who will come to the meeting.

Outside, Cranly acts like he will choke Temple, scolding him for his loud mouth. They cross the garden and come to a game being played in the alley. Davin is sitting watching the game and the three men gather around him. Temple asks Stephen if he thinks Jean Jacques Rousseau was sincere. Stephen answers that Rousseau was like Temple, an emotional man. Temple likes this idea of himself and repeats it several times proudly. Cranly tells Temple to leave and he does. Lynch comes to join them. He and Cranly wrestle briefly. Stephen asks Davin if he signed the petition. Davin says he did and scolds Stephen for refusing to, calling him a terrible man, always alone. Stephen points out the contradiction of Davinís Irish nationalism, which calls for armed conflict, with this petition for universal peace. Davin is not impressed. He says he is an Irish nationalist first and calling Stephen a "born sneerer." Davin wants to know if Stephen is Irish at all. Stephen says he was born in Ireland and his family has been in Ireland for generations. Davin urges him to be one of them, then. Davin says that he still remembers Stephen telling him about his private life. He says he couldnít eat his dinner after hearing it and still wishes he hadnít heard it. Stephen feels less friendly now. He tells Davin that the country produced him and he will express himself as he is. He adds that his ancestors sold Ireland out to the few British who came to claim it. Davin names the great Irish nationalist heroes, urging Stephen to join them in the struggle for Irish freedom. Stephen tells Davin that the soul is born in a slow birth. When it is born in a country like Ireland, there are nets flung to catch it from flying. He adds that he wants to try to fly around those nets. When Davin doesnít understand this metaphor, Stephen tells him Ireland is an old sow that eats her young. Davin gets up and walks toward the players, shaking his head in sadness.

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