A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Part 5, Section 1 (pg. 188-235)
After the vision of the bird girl, we find Stephen right back in the greasy of life again, drinking watery tea and eating crusts of fried bread with his mother and siblings before his day starts at the university. A box of used clothing sits at the table. The Dedalus family is still poor, wearing donated goods now. Stephen's mother gives him a wash on the neck and behind the ears, and he has to sneak out the back door to avoid his father, who's ranting, wanting to know from Stephen's siblings if that "lazy bitch of a brother" (pg. 189) has left for school yet. Stephen seems much bigger and far less pious as we meet him here--the description of his look and his manner supports his mother's observation that the university has somehow changed him.
Out on the muddy streets of Dublin, Stephen shakes the screeching of some mad religious woman from his ears, and chases from mind his father's whistling and his mother's mutterings. Focusing on the light and the smell of the wet leaves, he is gradually able to calm himself. He thinks of lines from writers as he makes his way through the streets, and we get an explanation of where his artist's mind is at this point.
"His thinking was a dusk of doubt and self-mistrust lit up at moments by the lightnings of intuition, but lightnings of so clear a splendor that in those moments the world perished about his feet as if it had been fireconsumed...." Part 5, pg. 191
Stephen is glad, however, that he has the city and the world of "common lives" (pg. 191) around him, to lighten the load and please his senses when he's not being struck by lightning bolts of intuition. But Stephen's mood still lurches about, and as he looks at the signs of shops full of language used only to sell things--"heaps of dead language" (pg. 193)--he feels that old weariness again.
Passing the statue of the national poet of Ireland, Stephen thinks of his friend from the university, Davin, who is a nationalist--someone who thinks Ireland's culture needs to be separated from that of the English and exalted. He remembers the story Davin told him one night, about how he'd been walking home over the country roads late at night and when he'd stopped for a glass of milk the peasant woman who answered the door invited him to spend the night. Davin refused, but the thought of this woman calling a stranger to bed makes Stephen think about the passions of his people--the poor of Ireland. Stephen is interrupted by a girl trying to sell him flowers--he has to refuse, for he has no money.
Stephen is not the most diligent student--he's already missed his first lecture of the day and realizes he's too late for the second. He arrives early to the lecture hall for his next class, and finds the dean crouched before the fireplace, trying to light a fire. He and Stephen start talking about art and beauty, and it's revealed that much of Stephen's thinking is formed around the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Stephen banters with the dean, but it's obvious he condescends--at one point Stephen compares him to a walking stick, with so little passion for life and God that he'll never be more than a tool for other men's purposes. The dean is also an Englishman, and because he is not Irish he gets Stephen thinking about something that seems to trouble him a lot these days--how the English language is for the Irish people a borrowed language. The object that the dean calls a funnel is a tundish to Stephen.
"His language, so familiar and so foreign, will always be for me an acquired speech. I have not made or accepted its words. My voice holds them at bay. My soul frets in the shadow of his language." Part 5, pg. 205
The two part amicably enough and in class Stephen shows himself to be a pretty distracted student, though no more so than most of those in the classroom. Stephen's mind drifts, stopping to make fun of stumbling, foolish professors and to consider the dirty whisperings of the fellows around him.
In the hall after class, some of the students are working a table to get signatures for a petition for universal peace. MacCann is running the show, and Stephen's closer friend Cranly is also there. It's clear that Stephen is seen by his fellow students as the poet among them, and they engage him with various degrees of joking and criticism, trying to get him to sign the petition. At this table begins a spirited, though sometimes difficult-to-follow discussion between the schoolboys that takes up much of this section. The boys throw around Latin phrases and literary references and the conversation is in turns joking and argumentative, as different students drift in and out. There is a lot of discussion about Ireland and the nationalist issue. Among the boys who talk are Temple, Davin, Cranly and Lynch.
Stephen and Lynch go off for a walk, and Stephen starts to explain his aesthetic theories. Laid out in detail, the theories are heavily based on Thomas Aquinas. Some of the main points include the belief that true art does not excite a physical reaction from its audience (it is "static" rather than "kinetic"). He observes that for something to be beautiful it must have the qualities of "wholeness, harmony and radiance" (pg. 229); and that the artist must gradually be sucked up by the beauty of his creation, making his self disappear from that creation.
"The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails." Part 5, pg. 233
A slight rain begins to fall, and Lynch and Stephen head to the library steps, where more students are talking. Stephen drifts out of the conversation, however, when a girl walks by and pulls his attention with her. He knows this girl, and it's presumably Emma, though her name isn't mentioned. Her life and heart are compared to a bird's, also bringing to mind the bird girl from Part 4.