Comments on Portrait by Caitlin Wrobel In the novel, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, our first impression of Stephen Dedalus is that he is an outsider. It is known that he is in a school where many of his peers are of a higher class than himself. In fact one of the first conversations he has that we read of involves him being asked the following questions. "What is your name?….. What kind of name is that?…. What is your father?….. and Is he a magistrate?" The class distinctions in his school were quite obvious. The way in which he climbs the ladder of power ‘till he becomes one of the most popular and respected students in the college is a comment on the way most of the people of Ireland were judging each other at the time. The fact that in his early years he was put down on is Joyce’s way of pointing out how juvenile the people of Ireland were acting. The story is highly biographical so it is hard to know what Joyce is saying to make a point or what is simply a story. Knowing his politics and the way I perceive events makes me believe a point was indeed being made. Stephen’s class was also a source of alienation from himself. He was often upset with the events in his family such as when he recalled how he was tormented by the frequent moves they were forced into because of financial difficulties. "A boy named Fallon in Belvedere had often asked him with a silly laugh why they moved so often a frown of scorn darkened quickly his forehead as he heard again the silly laugh of the questioner." The truly upsetting thing about that is that he probably would have had no trouble with the moves if he was not judged by others on it’s basis. Being in a Jesuit school and being considered a candidate to one day become a priest, Stephen was considered to be a very pious person. The reason he acted that way was because he felt he had to. Even at an early age Stephen was having doubts about his religion . At one point he was accused of having heresy in one of his essays. He quickly recanted his statement to appease the priest but his classmates were not so easily convinced, so they beat him up after class. The strange thing is that the same people later became his friends once again showing the juvenile actions of the society. The most significant alienation his beliefs caused was between him and himself. Stephen was in no way a sinless person. In fact he had committed a huge one by visiting prostitutes (which also showed the image of him being false, representing unquestioned respect and adoration of the church.) His sin deeply tormented him and when he confessed he thought he felt better. He became very outwardly religious which inwardly caused him to think of himself as evil because of his thoughts. This, as a societal reflection, shows that we need no Orwellian thought police because we have religious fanaticism. Joyce may not have looked at it that exact way, considering 1984 wasn’t written for around 20 years but that is the message given to me. Religion also caused fallings-out in his family that eventually included himself and his mother. Stephen was not an Atheist but at heart he was not a strict follower of the church which caused him strife but his views were much more respectable than that of blind followers. Another way in which he alienated himself was in his poetry. When he could not write it he was upset. Eventually, in Ulysses he will find that before he can be a true artist he must put aside the conflicts and bigotry of his background in late nineteenth century Ireland. The alienation Stephen faced ultimately forced him to rebel against everything and move to France. In the long run the events in his life that caused him discord were good for him. They caused him to be his own person not because he wanted to be but because he had to be. Being his own person made him different and a much more interesting person.