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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)

Next, Cranly wants to know if Stephen loves his mother. Stephen doesn’t answer the question, saying he doesn’t know what this means. Cranly wants to know if Stephen has ever loved anyone. Stephen says he once tried to love God. Cranly interrupts him to ask what kind of life his mother has had. When Stephen keeps missing his point, Cranly asks what Stephen’s father did for a living. Stephen replies with a list "A medical student, an oarsman, a tenor, an amateur actor, a shouting politician, a small landlord, a small investor, a drinker, a good fellow, a storyteller, somebody’s secretary, something in a distillery, a taxgatherer, a bankrupt and at present a praiser of his own past." After laughing at Stephen’s wit, Cranly continues the line of questions about Stephen’s mother’s happiness. He concludes that Stephen’s mother went through a lot of suffering and suggests that Stephen spare her suffering more. While Stephen is pondering an answer, Cranly adds that whatever else is unsure in life, a mother’s love is not. He says that whatever Stephen’s mother feels, it is real as opposed to the dime a dozen ideas he and his schoolmates have. Stephen thinks of Pascal and Aloysius Gonzaga, two men who refused to let their mothers kiss them because they feared contact with women. Cranly responds angrily that both men were pigs. Stephen adds that even Jesus wasn’t polite to his mother.

Cranly asks if Stephen has ever wondered whether Jesus was a hypocrite himself. When Stephen responds negatively, Cranly asks him if he was shocked at this question of Jesus’s morality. Cranly then asks if Stephen might be refusing to take communion because of a fear that it might actually be the body and blood of the son of God and not a wafer. Stephen admits readily that he does fear that possibility. He tells Cranly that he fears what would happen to his soul if he paid false homage to a symbol which has been worshipped for twenty centuries.

They are walking towards the town of Pembroke. The neighborhood through which they are passing is wealthy and this wealth and repose soothes them. They hear a maid singing Rosie O’Grady. Cranly says "Woman singing" in Latin and Stephen finds the sound of the words beautiful. In the dark, Stephen thinks of the figure of the woman as she appears in the liturgy of the church. She is boyish and her voice sings words that "pierce the gloom and clamour of the first chanting of the passion." All hearts are touched and the singing stops. As Stephen and Cranly walk on, Cranly sings some lines from Rosie O’Grady and praises its poetry. He wants to know if Stephen considers this popular song poetry. Stephen says he would have to see Rosie first. Cranly answers that she is easy to find. Stephen thinks about his friend’s attitude toward women. He realizes Cranly feels women’s suffering and would protect them and "bow his mind to them."


At this thought, Stephen hears a voice urging him to go away. He feels as if this friendship is ending. He tells Cranly he will go somewhere. Cranly assures him that he needn’t go just because he refuses the Eucharist. He says the church is made up of all those born into it, not just the buildings and the priests. Cranly wonders if Stephen still plans to "discover the mode of life or of art whereby your spirit could express itself in unfettered freedom." Stephen adds that he will try to express himself in life or art as freely and as wholly as possible. He will do so with "silence, exile, and cunning." Stephen reminds Cranly of how he had made him confess his fears to him. He adds that what he is not afraid of is making a mistake, even if it is a mistake as long as eternity and that he is not afraid of being alone, even if it means alone with no friends. Cranly wonders if he really means that he will go without even one friend, "more even than the noblest and truest friend a man ever had." Stephen realizes Cranly is now talking about his own fears and asks him of whom is he speaking. Cranly doesn’t answer.

Note to the reader What follows is a series of journal entries dated between 20 March and 27 April. This section remains part of chapter five, but its formal difference--a switch from narrative to journal entries, sets it apart.

20 March. Stephen describes the talk with Cranly that was just related in the narrative. Calls the subject "my revolt." When he tried to imagine Cranly’s mother, he found that he could not. He remembers Cranly telling him his father was sixty one when Cranly was born. He describes the type that Cranly’s father probably fits. He can’t think that Cranly’s mother could be young, so he imagines she must be old and neglected. "Hence Cranly’s despair of soul the child of exhausted loins."

21 March, morning He thinks the exhausted loins are those of Elisabeth and Zachary. He compares Cranly’s habit of eating bacon and dried figs to this Old Testament son eating locusts and wild honey.

21 March, night Stephen reports that he is now free, "soulfree and fancyfree." He wants the dead to bury the dead and even marry the dead.

22 March With Lynch the night before, he followed a large nurse. He found it distasteful and compared himself and Lynch to greyhounds following a heifer.

23 March He wonders if "she" is unwell since he hasn’t seen her since "that night." He pictures her sitting at home with her mother’s shawl around her shoulders eating gruel.

24 March Stephen records a conversation with his mother in which his mother concluded that he has a queer mind from having read too much. Stephen disagrees, thinking he has read too little. She said he would come back to the faith in time. He says he cannot repent. After this discussion, Stephen reports going to the college and getting into an argument with Ghezzi about Bruno the Nolan in Italian and then in pidgin English. Ghezzi said Bruno was a heretic and Stephen reminded him that Bruno was burned for it. Ghezzi then gave Stephen a recipe and Stephen noticed his lips as he pronounced his "o." Stephen wonders if Ghezzi has had sex and if so, could he repent. He realizes Ghezzi could indeed repent and cry a rogue’s tears. As he left the school, he remembered that Ghezzi’s countrymen had invented Roman Catholicism. He went to the library and tried unsuccessfully to read some reviews. He is wondering why "she" is not yet out. He remembers a line in one of William Blake’s letters wondering if a friend of his will die. Stephen remembers seeing a picture of the friend of Blake’s concern in a diorama and hearing the orchestra play O, Willie, we have missed you. He ends this entry in disgust "A race of clodhoppers!"

25 March, morning Stephen writes of his dreams the night before. He saw a long gallery with pillars of dark vapor rising from the floor. The gallery is full of statues of fabulous kinds who have their hands folded on their knees as if they are weary. The dark vapors are human errors. In another dream, Stephen saw strange figures not as tall as people coming up out of a cave. They seemed to be melded together. They stared at Stephen and seemed to be asking him something, but they didn’t speak.

30 March Stephen relates an exchange between Cranly and Dixon that took place on the porch of the library that morning. In Cranly’s story, a woman let her child fall into the Nile river. A crocodile grabbed the child and the mother asked for it back. The crocodile said it would give her the child back if she told him the right answer would he eat or not eat the child. Stephen observes that Lepidus would say that this mentality is bred out of "your mud" with the sun. He wonders if his own mentality is the same and then decides, "Then into Nilemud with it!"

1 April He opens the journal entry in disapproval of the last phrase of the previous entry.

2 April He reports having seen "her" in a cafe. Lynch told Stephen that Cranly had been invited to her house by her brother. He wonders if Cranly brought his crocodile. He wonders if Cranly is "the shining light now" and then protests that if so, he, Stephen, discovered him.

3 April He saw Davin who asked him why he was leaving Ireland. Stephen says he joked that "the shortest way to Tara was via Holyhead." Stephen’s father came upon them and Stephen introduced him to Davin. When Davin left them, Stephen’s father commented on Davin’s honest eye and then wondered why Stephen didn’t join a rowing club. He added his desire that Stephen go into the law. Stephen ends the entry "More mud, more crocodiles."

5 April Stephen celebrates the life of spring, which combines the bogwater and the delicate flowers of apple trees.

6 April He thinks that surely "she" remembers the past.

6 April, later He thinks of Michael Robartes who remembers forgotten beauty and wraps his arms around loveliness that has long since passed away. Stephen claims that he will not do this. He will embrace the loveliness that hasn’t yet come into the world.

10 April He hears the hoof beats of horses that cross the bridge and wonders where they are going.

11 April Writes about what he wrote the night before and condemns it as "vague words for a vague emotion." He wonders if "she" would like it and decides she probably would and thinks he will then have to like it, too.

13 April He has been thinking of the tundish for so long that he looked it up and was astonished to find out that it is an English, not an Irish term. He wonders why the dean of studies came to Ireland to teach the Irish his language or if he came to learn it from the Irish.

14 April He reports that John Alphonsus Mulrennan has just returned from the west of Ireland where he met an old man who spoke Irish and English with him. After talking for a while, the old man said, "Ah, there must be terrible queer creatures at the latter end of the world." Stephen writes that it is this old man that he fears and with whom he must struggle all night long until one of them is dead. He stops himself, though, and says, "I mean him no harm . . ."

15 April He met "her" that day walking along the street. She asked him why he never came to visit and said she heard stories about him. She wondered if he was still writing poems and he answered with a question, "About whom?" When she looked confused, Stephen felt sorry and mean and so switched to a different manner "the spiritual-heroic refrigerating apparatus, invented and patented in all countries by Dante Alighieri." He talked about himself and his plans. He regrets that as he talked he suddenly made a revolutionary gesture with his hands which made people begin to stare and made her take her leave of him. As she left, she told him she hoped he would do as he said. Stephen is pleased with this. He reports that he liked her today, a new feeling for him. He almost decides to revise all his previous thoughts and feelings about her when he interrupts himself, with "O, give it up, old chap! Sleep it off!

16 April "Away! Away!" begins his journal entry. He feels the "spell of arms" and thinks of roads as arms to embrace him and the tall ships as arms as well. He thinks of these arms held out to him, calling him to join them and become their kinsman.

26 April His mother is putting his "new secondhand clothes in order." She tells him she hopes he learns on his journey "what the heart is and what it feels. Amen" He answers "So be it," and adds an ode to his future life "O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race."

27 April "Old father, old artificer, stand by me now and ever in good stead."

Note Joyce ends the novel with the places of composition Dublin 1904, Triest 1914.

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