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By M. a. Valerie Pursel Zimbaro, Henry James

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Extra info for A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Notes

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However, it does seem strange that Stephen would choose to talk so earnestly and intimately with Lynch. Lynch's irreverence for Stephen’s ideas, his crude remarks, and his childish pranks make him an unlikely confidant for Stephen’s emerging philosophy of aesthetics. Thus we turn to Ellman, Joyce's acclaimed biographer. According to Ellman, Joyce had a reason for portraying Lynch as a lout: the reason was revenge. Joyce had a friend (Vincent Cosgrave) who continually mocked Joyce's serious dedication to literature; Cosgrave also interfered with some of Joyce's friendships, and once, he even tried to steal away Joyce's only love, Nora Barnacle.

Note his description of the "grave and ordered . . passionless" life from which Stephen turns as he crosses the bridge over the Tolka and "descend[s]" into the disorder of the natural world. When Stephen turns on the bridge and looks back, symbolically he is choosing between his mother's religiously restricted world (his mother's name is Mary, the same as the name of the Blessed Virgin) and his father's irresponsible and reckless world. For the present, Stephen turns from religion and enters his father's world, but eventually Stephen will reject the restrictions of both worlds, preferring to create a new and better life, one which offers more hope for his future.

Until now, Cranly has been Stephen’s priest-like confidant, but now, just before leaving Ireland, Stephen can, if he chooses, use this moment to justify breaking off his friendship with Cranly. At this point, Stephen overlooks Cranly’s so-called betrayal. Later, when he asks Cranly's advice, he is pained to discover that Cranly seems to have no integrity. Cranly is firm: Stephen should honor his mother's request and perform his "Easter duty"--even though Stephen no longer believes in Catholic rituals.

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