A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce Imagery and Symbolism are vital in the effect the novel has on the reader. In the novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, the author uses the tools of imagery and symbolism to give the reader a better understanding of the author s emotions and ideas that are portrayed through rudimentary symbols that have significant meanings. Such symbols include the use of characters, colors, water, birds, and Stephen s last name, Dedalus. James Joyce s utilization of different characters in the novel introduces the various themes of the story. In the beginning chapters, the religious director, Father Arnell is being apparently depicted as a high figured man, but in reality, he looks deceptive and perceptive. Other characters are Stephen s father Simon Dedalus, Dante, and the rest of the Dedalus family and household, are understood to be symbolizing anarchy, confusion, and disorder. Later, we read that Stephen struggles with his family and parents who are the sole hindrance of his freedom and pursuance of his goals and talents. Joyce also uses the name of Dedalus whish he obtains from the mythical Greek Daedalus. Similar to Daedalus, Stephen is convinced that he must escape containment from his family, country, and faith in order to discover his true artistic talents. Feeling guilty from the retreat he attends, he finds himself leading a pious life of piety and limitations. He attends and observe all occasions of fasting and is cautious of every simple move he makes even when he goes to bed. He is determined to surround himself in such a restrictive atmosphere in which he is imprisoning himself. But later in the novel, he defies his Catholic religion by setting himself free of all subjugation. The mythical character of Daedalus correspondingly retreats from the labyrinth and soars upwards towards the sun, for Stephen, his artistic objectives. Stephen s maturity gradually emerges as he gets older and the defiant boy within him disappears, as Icarus in the myth drowns. One of the most important imagery Joyce uses is seen through the imagery of flights of birds. This so called flight represents his artistic freedom, which is first portrayed in Stephen s first days in his early school, Clongowes. At this time Stephens depression is symbolized as a heavy bird flying low. But as soon as Stephen discovers his purpose in life, he has an emotion described as an instant of wild flight. Water is also another image that Joyce portrays during when Stephen is being harassed by the school bully and is pushed into the dirty cesspool in his days at Clongowes. This submersion into the cesspool is Stephen s unrefined baptism into an offensive and cruel world of Clongowes. Color is also another imagery Joyce introduces to have an effect in the understanding of the readers. Early in the novel, the reader comes along two colors, green and maroon which is connected with the political turmoil that the dedalus household are fighting about. Green is used to represent the Nation of Ireland, and the reddish-maroon color represents the church. These combinations of imagery and symbolism are effectively used to illustrate certain themes that accentuate specific conditions of the novel. These images are vital in the effect it has on the reader because it gives the reader a more familiar sense of Joyce s thoughts, opinions, and emotions as he portrays his autobiographical story.