A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

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Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. How likeable is Stephen Dedalus? What are the positive and negative aspects of his character?

2. How does Stephen develop over his years at Clongowes school? What traits do we see in Stephen that will develop as he grows older? What traits do we see that will diminish over time?

3. How would you describe Stephen's relationship with his family? His father? His mother? His brothers and sisters.

4. In the beginning of the book, Stephen, wrongly punished by Father Dolan, overcomes his fear to speak with the rector of Clongowes, Father Conmee. What does he learn as a result of this episode? How does his encounter with these two men influence him later in life?

5. By the end of the novel, Stephen has resolved to leave Ireland. Why?

6. In his second-to-last journal entry, Stephen writes that his mother prays that he will "learn what the heart is and what it feels." What does she mean? Do you think Stephen understands what she means?

7. Joyce could have had Stephen tell his own story, but instead we see him described by another narrator who knows his most intimate thoughts. Why might Joyce have chosen to tell the story in this way?...

(The entire section is 389 words.)