Tuesday, May 20, 2008
James Joyce Explication
Conflicting emotions with religious valuesIn the passages on the pages 53 and 72-73 in A Portraits of the Artist as a Young Man, the author James Joyce suggests to his readers that natural emotions, such as lust and curiousness tend to override religious beliefs and morals. In the passage on page 53, Athy, a student with Stephen, goes to talk with his fellow peers about two boys, who also attended the Catholic school, that they were caught “smugging” (some type of homosexual act) (50). Joyce’s purpose for creating a passage like this one was to show his readers the powerful emotion of curiosity. The two boys, who were smugging, knew what they were doing was against the Catholic faith, but their curiousness and wondering emotions override their Catholic morals. Also, the fact that the boys were smugging inside a Catholic school bathroom is also significant. The boys believed that they could get away with the smugging because they were in a bathroom and believed nobody was able to see what they were doing, but they were wrong. The priest came and saw what they had done. I believe the interruption of the priest is significant because the boys were engrossed in their activity and then the priest comes. Just like that, the priest comes and ends everything the boys had been doing. And even if eyes weren't able to see did what they had done, god would be able see and condemn their actions, which I interrupted as one of Joyce's purpose. Furthermore, I believed that the boys knew that god's eye was on them, but the boys didn't care because they wanted to satisfy their curiosity before thinking their faith. Furthermore, the tone Joyce uses is so erupt and choppy. This tone is significant because I believe Joyce wanted to show his readers the power that the priest had. Just one glimpse of the priest sent the boys running. Joyce uses the word running (scut) because when one hears the word running, she or he interrupts it as running away from reality or from morals, life, or fear. Running also can be interrupt as running away from one's morals, which was what the two boys had done. Athy then talks to his peers about how the priest would punish the two guys who were smugging. He imagines the priest would order one of the boys to “drop his breeches” (53). He jokes around with his peers about this matter, even though it is a homosexual thought for Athy to imagine the two boys to drop their pants, which I believe is one of Joyce’s purpose. But Athy doesn’t take notice of what he is joking about; he finds the humor thinking about the boys’ punishment and doesn’t think about the punishment god might give him for thinking such thoughts. Furthermore, what is even more of a homosexual act is when Stephen imagines the preacher giving the punishments to the boys. He imagines the boys undressing themselves and wondered who would let down the trousers, the master or the boys themselves (53). Joyce’s imagery used in the text allows the reader to believe that even though Stephen is Catholic, he is capable of homosexual thoughts like these. And despite the fact that Stephen was born and raised with strict Catholic rules, Stephen is still capable of sinful thoughts, because it is only natural for a young boy to explore his sexual desires. Stephen sexual thoughts do not stop though, but continues onto the next paragraph. The word choice Joyce continues to use holds much significance. Stephen is so intrigued about how the punishment will be like that he looks at Athy’s “Knuckly inky hands” (53). Joyce goes into description of Athy’s hands to stress the innocence in Stephen. Also, the word “hands” (53) Joyce chooses to use I find interesting. “Hands” I believe usually symbolize curiosity. They are the only part of the body that has the capability to explore so much compare to other body parts. Hands are able to feel, touch, hold, and much more compare to something like the foot, just like Stephen’s mind. Concluding in why I believe Joyce choose the word he did. The other passage I choose conflicting religion and natural emotions takes place on page 73. Stephen is testing his innocence when he sees was woman that draws him in. Joyce’s use of imagery instills the reader to believe that Stephen is overcome with lust and nothing can stop him from lusting, despite his religious views. Stephen’s views on religion become rather “false and trivial” (72), after thinking about the lady he sees. Another example of how Joyce was able to captivate his readers’ mind was when Stephen had sexual temptations for the lady. Stephen mind does not automatically think of the temptation as sinful, but rather a longing he yearned for. Lust, the subject Joyce chooses to use on Stephen is interesting because lust happens to be one of the “deadly” 7 sins. And for someone young like Stephen to commit a deadly sin is lost innocence, proving that sin will sometimes override religious values or morals. Also, the word choice that Joyce chooses to use in the passage on page 73 is very meaningful. “Her fine dress and sash and long black stocking” (73), they way Joyce describes the woman Stephen is looking at is depth alone. Stephen does not just glance at the women, but he takes a longer look, noticing what she is wearing. He notices that the woman is wearing a “fine dress”, interesting word choice on Joyce’s part; because dress is usually seem as a scandalous item of clothing often wear to parties and other mature places. Joyce also uses the words “long black”, to describe the stockings the woman is wearing. Stocking is also another scandalous item of clothing. When one thinks of stockings, she or he usually think of the clear, thin, and high item of clothing extending all the way to the thighs. Stockings expose skin, and causing wandering eyes of young men like Stephen to look because it is natural to want to look. Also, the stockings were black. Black is usually sought as something evil and dark, Joyce’s hidden way of portraying the way Stephen’s mind thinks. Even though Step is not supposed to think about homosexual ideas or lustful thoughts, he can’t help himself because he is a young boy stumbling to find truth and understand life. Though Stephen was brought up with strict religious beliefs and even attended a Catholic school, learning religion does not cover his indulgence for wanting to explore sinful thoughts, despite all that he learned about his religion.