What is the narrative technique used in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man?  

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James Joyce uses mostly the third-person point of view in the narrative style of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man , but he keeps that viewpoint limited. Instead of being omniscient, as is often the case with the third person viewpoint, Joyce's outside narrator is limited in...

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James Joyce uses mostly the third-person point of view in the narrative style of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but he keeps that viewpoint limited. Instead of being omniscient, as is often the case with the third person viewpoint, Joyce's outside narrator is limited in his scope. We are inside only Stephen's head, seeing and hearing only what Stephen does.

Joyce keeps us close to his protagonist, so close that the the narrator's own voice ages with Stephen. For example, in the very first lines, the narrator describes the "moocow" coming down the street, using language appropriate to the child-aged Stephen. As Stephen grows, so does the vocabulary of the narrator, showing that he is limited not only to Stephen's point of view but also to Stephen's linguistic abilities.

In chapter 5, the narrative technique shifts to first person. The narrator and narrative style has been solely focused on Stephen and his experience; at the book's end, Joyce goes a step even closer and allows Stephen to narrate in his own voice. The last pages of the book are diary entries of Stephen's, and so they are written in first person, and the outside narrator disappears from the story. The departure of the narrator foreshadows Stephen's own departure from Ireland, and Joyce gives power to his protagonist by allowing him to narrate those final days as a "young man."

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In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Joyce breaks from traditional narrative forms and uses a third person stream of consciousness style that is less concerned with telling a story and more focused on conveying the experiences of Stephen Dedalus as he matures. For example, at the beginning of the book, as Joyce seeks to convey Stephen Dedalus' experience as a very young child, the text is disorienting and has very little in terms of a coherent narrative. Instead of relaying specific events happening to Dedalus', Joyce gives us the feeling of confusion that comes with young age. While this is a strange technique when compared to simply giving a third person account of what happened to Dedalus as a young child, in many ways, Joyce's approach is more clear to how most people relate to their earliest memories, often having only fragmented images or vague feelings rather than clear accounts of events.

As Dedalus matures, Joyce's narrative techniques and vocabulary become more coherent, but he never drifts from the approach of communicating the experience of being Stephen Dedalus rather than telling a story about Stephen Dedalus.

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In addition to other ideas posited by the excellent answers to this question, it's worth considering that the narrative of Portrait is representing several different "kinds" of Stephens. More specifically, each chapter gives us at least one (if not more) new narrative voice, and each of these narrative voices has changed to indicate Stephen's advancing development. Thus, rather than giving us one consistent version of Stephen, he gives us several, each of which is narrated by a different voice with different concerns and different ways of seeing and interpreting the world. Stephen's character is therefore plural in nature, constantly fluctuating, and apparently impossible to pin down and define. In that respect, Joyce's narrative voice has a distinctly "cubist" sensibility, giving us versions of the same character from multiple angles and viewpoints and deconstructing the notion that a stable, singular self exists.

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Joyce was a modernist writer, meaning he was consciously breaking with traditional ways of writing; he was experimenting with new forms. Modernist writers were becoming more interested in capturing the interiority of their characters, and this novel reflects that urge. Though told in the third person (with a bit of first-person near the end, in Stephen's diary entries), it is entirely from the point of view of the main character Stephen Dedalus and records what he witnesses using a stream-of-consciousness technique. It is as if a video camera is in Stephen's head, filming everything as he experiences it in a raw, unmediated way. It is the story of Stephen growing up and maturing into an artist, but unlike, say, Dickens in a novel such as Great Expectations, which is also about the maturation of a boy into a man, Joyce doesn't pull the camera back, so to speak, and doesn't give us a wider context. Dickens will show a scene as experienced by the young Pip, then include Pip ruminating on it with his adult consciousness. Joyce simply lets the reader see what Stephen sees at whatever age and does not try to interpret these experiences for us. This brings us closer to Stephen but also leaves it more up to us as readers to sort out and interpret what is happening. 

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James Joyce is well known for his unique storytelling abilities, and this novel reinforces this. 

Joyce uses a third-person point of view, but a very unique one.  Events are not told in chronological order, for example.  Also, the narrative focuses on its protagonist, Stephen Dedalus.  What is interesting is that Joyce's diction is directly related to Stephen's age.  For example, at the beginning of the novel, he is very young, perhaps a toddler, so Joyce's diction reflects that. 

Also,  another unique thing about Joyce's narrative is that "[h]is narrative is narrow and tightly focused; he does not tell what is happening but rather tries to show what is happening without explaining the events that he is showing" (Enotes).

Finally, Joyce also uses stream of consciousness (writing as one thinks, which can be very fragmented) and interior monologue (a procession of thoughts in one's mind when one thinks to themselves).

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