Context: James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man utilizes a "stream of consciousness" method to portray a young man's preparation for life as an artist. The events of the novel are not so much dramatic as they are statically revelatory; various critical phases of the young man's development are shown through what Stephen Dedalus, the young Irish hero of the book, calls "epiphanies." By the end of the novel, Stephen has liberated himself from his friends, his family, his nation, and his Church–and from the ideas which would have restrained him as a writer. The novel ends with two entries from the young man's diary. (Stephen is the son of Daedalus, the great Greek artificer, only in a metaphorical sense, of course.)
April 26. . . . Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.
April 27 Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead.