This is a movie based on the novel. A pale, boring 90 minute distillation of 299 pages. Something a 10 minute summary does a better job of.


Author: James Joyce Stream of consciousness Modernist semi-autobiographical coming of age inner conflict

religion vs nationalism vs art

Bildungsroman (coming-of-age novel) Künstlerroman (artist’s novel;)

Clongowes Wood College Belvedere

Summary - Key Events

Stephen Dedalus - as a kid- goes to hostel - is asked by his father not to snitch on anyone - he gets pushed into a ditch - does NOT snitch - while asleep he overhears a conversation about Parnell (Irish politician, not ficitional) - how he fell due to his sins - adultery (lust) and pride

Christmas Dinner Dedalus goes back home - argument about politics erupts- Simon and Mr Casey (Simon’s friend) discuss how the Catholic church should not meddle in politics. Dante disagrees. Says its catholics’ duty to follow whatever the priests and bishops say without questioning; even if they are opposed to the Irish cause. Says she will defend her religion against “renegade catholics”

Mr Casey tells a story - how an old Catholic woman talked ill about Parnell and the woman he cheated with. Mr Casey upon hearing their names bemirched, on hearing the words she used, spits his tobacco juice on her face. The men laugh. Dante is infuriated, calls Mr Casey a blasphemer, and repeatedly says “may they devil be on you”

Secularists vs Orthodox

Back to school We see how the kids are flogged in Catholic school. Dedalus gets flogged because Father Dolan thinks he’s being an “idle loafer” who isn’t working though he can’t work due to his glasses being broken. He goes and tells the rector about what Father Dolan did. His classmates hoist him over their heads and celebrate him as a hero.

Though this happens, Dedalus still feels alone once the wave is gone. He realizes that being a hero will not reduce his “outsider”ness or end his loneliness. After meeting the rector, he goes home to get a new pair of glasses.

The Dedaluses become bankrupt, have to move, and their properties are auctioned off. Stephen and Simon attend it. Simon imparts advice, tells Stephen to associate w gentemen, how all of his friends were good at one thing or the other. He emphasises on how they were truthful

Dedalus wins the national essay and is rewarded w money. When his essay is being read, a “lewd” picture is being passed along. Uses the money at a brothel.

Father Parnall delivers a speech about hell. About how awful it is. “Fire in hell gives no light” , bodies stacked upon each other, no space, corpses rotting, putrid stench, millions of carcasses, torment of fire is the worst thing they’re subjected to. Fire of Hell was created by God to punish. It preserves what it burns. It burns at the highest intensity. “Time is time was. Time shall be no more”. Talks about temptation and giving into them. Stephen is scared. He gets nightmares and throws up.

Stephen confesses. He tells the father he has slept with prostitutes. And he has impure thoughts. He is asked to not “offend God again” and give up the wretched sin. Pray to Mother Mary when the temptations come.

Calling of God. Promised “awful” powers if he becomes a priest. More than any angel or archangel.

while waiting to hear back from the university, strolls on the beach and encounters wading girl When he was waiting for get accepted by University, he went for a walk at beach and struck by her beauty of a young girl and realizes the artist in him. Stephen resolves his life and not to be constrained by the boundaries of his religion. Stephen now goes to university, where he makes friends like Cranly.


  1. Wading Girl “as delicate as a crane” responsible for Stephen’s determination to dedicate his life for art. She sparks an epiphany in Stephen and plays a pivotal role in his transformation to an artist.
  2. Emma Emma is someone Stephen met at a party and is infatuated with. She does not appear often. She symbolizes “feminine purity”. Stephen imagines that as a reward for being religious, he’ll reunite with her in heaven.


  1. Religion, Nationalism, and Art
  2. Innocence and Experience
  3. Coming of age
  4. Literature and Life
  5. Identity

Greek Myth

Reference to the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus. Stephen’s name embodies the idea of flight Daedalus represents escape, Icarus represents danger of overestimating abilities Stephen must balance desire to flee Ireland with dangers of ambition