"The soul is born, he said vaguely, first in those moments I told you of. It has a slow and dark birth, more mysterious than the birth of the body. When the soul of a man is born in this country, there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets."
A mostly autobiographical novel by James Joyce
, written in stream-of-consciousness style. It deals with Stephen Dedalus' struggle to express himself. The story takes us from his early life as a boy to his struggles with the Church, and Irish society in general, as a young adult.
The crux of the plot is Dedalus' struggle with his autonomy against the wishes of the Roman Catholic Church.
The novel was published in serialized form from 1914 to 1915. Then collected in book form in 1916. The story started life as a novel to be called "Stephen Hero", which Joyce was working on from 1904 to 1906. Joyce was not satisfied with the earlier work, and re-wrote it from page one after Dubliners
was published. The "Stephen Hero" version of the novel was published in 1944, following the author's death.
Tropes Used In The Novel Include:
- Animal Motifs: birds, cows and goats.
- Author Avatar: Stephen Dedalus is James Joyce if he hadn't become famous.
- Break the Cutie: Stephen gets a taste of this during the Father Dolan episode.
- Coming-of-Age Story
- A Date with Rosie Palms: It was either this or visiting a prostitute (or both at different points in the novel). He's rather vague about the specifics.
- Everything's Better with Cows: In the first line, no less.
Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo....
- Evil Smells Bad: When Stephen goes to a sermon, the priest gives a sermon/rant about the horrors of hell, such as the eternal smell of decaying corpses.
- Subverted rather humorously with Stephen himself. When trying to mortify his senses in penance, he gets stumped because bad smells don't really bother him.
- Fear of Thunder: One of Stephen's fears.
- Fire and Brimstone Hell: Stephen regains his religion after hearing a firey sermon about this very topic.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Stephen's friend Cranley says "sugar" when he means something else (this is actually a very common tic among native Irish). Lynch says "yellow." Stephen tells him "It was a great day for European culture, when you made up your mind to swear in yellow."
- Have a Gay Old Time: Early on in the first chapter, the narrator describes a washbasin with "cocks with printing on it", which is "queer".
- Intelligence Equals Isolation: Stephen all the way.
- Irish Political System: The Irish Parliamentary Party and Charles Stuart Parnell (and his divorce crisis and death) figure prominently in the first chapter of the story, and is referenced continually later on.
- Meaningful Name: Stephen is named after both St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and Daedalus, the legendary Greek architect.
- Multiple Narrative Modes: The book is almost entirely told in the third person, but lapses into first-person diary entries at the very end. Some sections also flirt with a form of stream of consciousness.
- Once Upon a Time: See the entry for Everything's Better with Cows.
- Professional Sex Ed: Practically forced on him.
- Sadist Teacher: Most of them. Averted in Clongowes' rector, who is kind enough to help Stephen after he's unfairly punished.
- Separated by a Common Language
The language in which we are speaking is his before it is mine.
- Stream Of Consciousness: The entire book.
- What the Hell, Dad?: Stephen has a lot of issues with his profligate father.