James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

A look at how Joyce portrays the birth and growth of an artistic spirit.

`It has been said that A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is reminiscent of a coming of age story, like The Catcher in the Rye, in the sense that nothing really happens in terms of action. The novel revolves about the thoughts and feelings of Stephen Dedalus. Chester G. Anderson writes, `They [the pages of the novel] tell the story of the growth of a human soul from early childhood to young man hood`? (Anderson 1) All of this occurs inside his head as Dedalus grows and discovers himself. It includes several vividly memorable scenes: the family’s heated political argument over Christmas dinner, Stephen’s encounters with women, from prostitutes to a beauty he discovers on a beach, as well as the fire and brimstone sermons he receives at Church and at school. Almost any reader can identify with the experiences and feelings of the protagonist, a testament to the novel’s literary merit and realism. `