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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

by James Joyce

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Describe Father Dolan's pandying of Stephen from Stephen's perspective in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Quick answer:

To give an account of Stephen's pandying at the hands of Father Dolan from Stephen's point of view would involve emphasizing the sheer unfairness of it. Stephen, and another boy, Fleming, have been beaten by Dolan for laziness. Yet in the case of Stephen, he'd been excused from work until his new glasses arrived. But Dolan still beats him anyway, and this makes Stephen feel that he's the victim of a gross injustice.

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One day in class, while Stephen and his fellow pupils are being taught by Father Arnall, Father Dolan, the head teacher, comes bursting in, brandishing a pandybat, a stout leather strap used for beating misbehaving boys. Stephen and another boy are singled out and whacked good and hard for their alleged laziness.

From Stephen's perspective—and most people's perspectives, one would hope—this is a monstrous act of injustice. Stephen hasn't been lazy at all; far from it. He was explicitly excused from doing work because his glasses had been broken and he was waiting for a new pair. But Dolan makes no effort to establish the truth of the matter and simply lets fly at Stephen without bothering to get the boy's side of the story.

As well as feeling incredibly sore after his beating, Stephen feels upset at being subjected to such unjust treatment. He also reflects on the disparity between Father Dolan's cruel behavior and his status as a priest. Surely men of God aren't supposed to behave like that?

Full of righteous anger and resentment, Stephen is not going to let the matter lie. Instead of taking his punishment, which he probably would've done if he really had been genuinely lazy, he complains about his treatment to the other boys, who encourage him to make a formal complaint to the rector.

He duly does so, and the rector promises to speak to Father Dolan about it. After emerging from the rector's office, Stephen is hailed as a hero by the other boys.

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