Part 2, Sections 1 - 3 (pg. 62-91) Notes from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Part 2, Sections 1 - 3 (pg. 62-91)

The Dedalus family is living in Blackrock now, a suburb south of Dublin, and old Uncle Charles is Stephen's summer companion. Uncle Charles takes Stephen along on his errands. He buys the boy sweets, brings him along on his stops into church, and takes him to the park where Mike Flynn, a running coach and old friend of Stephen's father, trains Stephen as a runner. Stephen accompanies Uncle Charles and his father on long Sunday walks and listens to their stories and political discussions. -He is still too young to understand everything, but he hangs on their words and tries hard to follow. At night, Stephen reads an old copy of The Count of Monte Cristo, a book that stimulates his imagination, especially the parts about the female character, Mercedes.

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Stephen is friends at this time with a boy named Aubrey Mills, and the two romp together through the countryside. September arrives and Aubrey goes off to school. Stephen isn't sent back to Clongowes because his family is having financial troubles. Stephen seems to be taking a weight upon his shoulders as his "boyish conception of the world" (pg. 67) is shaken; he's becoming more of a loner.

"The noise of children at play annoyed him and their silly voices made him feel, even more keenly than he had felt at Clongowes, that he was different from others. He did not want to play. He wanted to meet in the real world the unsubstantial image which his soul so constantly beheld." Part 2, pg. 67

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The language in these pages becomes increasingly sexually suggestive. Stephen's preoccupation with Mercedes and the mention of words like "tryst," "tenderness," and the "strange unrest [that] crept into his blood" (pg. 67) suggest that Stephen is beginning to feel the sexual longings of an older boy.

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One day, a band of moving trucks hauls all of the furniture out of the house in Blackrock and the Dedalus family moves again. It seems as though Mr. Dedalus' financial misfortunes are the cause of this move. Stephen begins to wander through the big city, and the bustle of city dwellers stirs his imagination. Stephen and his mother also make occasional visits to family relatives, relatives who are basically strangers to Stephen.

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After a children's party that Stephen attends, sitting on the outside rather than joining in the activities, he rides the tram home with one of the young girls. Her flirty behavior makes his young heart crazy, and though he senses she might want him to kiss her, he cannot summon the nerve to do so. After the ride, he sits and tries to write a poem to the girl, named only as E--C--. This is an early attempt by Stephen to turn his feelings into art, and though he struggles at first, he does write something and we get an explanation of young Stephen's sensibility as a writer.

"During this process all these elements which he deemed common and insignificant fell out of the scene. There remained no trace of the tram itself nor of the trammen nor of the horses: nor did he and she appear vividly. The verses told only of the night and the balmy breeze and the maiden lustre of the moon. Some undefined sorrow was hidden in the hearts of the protagonists as they stood in silence beneath the leafless trees and when the moment of farewell had come the kiss, which had been withheld by one, was given by both." Part 2, pg. 74

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Stephen's growing disgust with some of the world's ways is increased when Mr. Dedalus returns one day with a story about how he's talked with the rector at Clongowes and they had a good laugh over the story of Stephen telling on the prefect. Mr. Dedalus goes on to say that he ran into the prefect, and they too had a good laugh about it. It disgusts Stephen to think that something that was downright wrong can be smoothed out over time into something to laugh about.

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Stephen is now in a school called Belvedere, and has a role in the school play. He doesn't come on until the second act, and moody as ever, heads out of the auditorium to brood and get some air before he's on. Outside, he runs into Heron, a boy who rivals Stephen for the title of the smartest in the class. Heron is smoking with his friend Wallis, and the three have a witty conversation until Heron hits a nerve by mentioning the fine looking girl (Emma) he saw come in with Stephen's family. Heron keeps telling Stephen to "admit!"--to reveal his crush.

The word "admit" takes Stephen's memory back to the time when one of his teachers accused him of having heresy in his weekly essay. That incident had passed without much drama, but a few nights later Heron and two other boys had started a discussion about writers with Stephen, who'd gotten all worked up about Byron, his favorite poet. Byron was a heretic, the boys said, and Stephen said he could care less, and he'd nearly gotten beaten up for refusing to back down. Stephen doesn't hold any grudge about this incident now, though he's not particularly eager about being friends with Heron, either.

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Backstage, Stephen breaks out of his moodiness and is boyishly pleased by the experience of acting onstage. Afterwards, riding high with excitement, he finds his family and is immediately deflated when he sees that the girl from the tram is no longer with them. He takes off for a fast walk to calm his mind, and the sight of the lane and smells of "horse piss and rotted straw" (pg. 91) help bring his senses back under control.

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