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Stephen Dedalus the main character in most of James Joyces writings is said to be a reflection of Joyce himself In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man the reader follows Stephen as he develops from a young child into a young artist overcoming many conflicts both internally and externally and narrowly escaping a life long commitment to the clergy Through Joyces use of free indirect style all of Stephens speech actions and thoughts are filtered through the narrator of the story However since Joyce so strongly identifies with Stephen his characters style and personality greatly influence the narrator This use of free indirect style and stylistic contagion makes Joyces use of descriptive language one of his most valuable tools in accurately depicting Stephen Dedaluss developing ideals of feminine beautyAs a very young child Stephen is taught to idealize the Virgin Mary for her purity and holiness She is described to Stephen as a tower of Ivory and a House of Gold p35 Stephen takes this literally and becomes confused as to how these beautiful elements of ivory and gold could make up a human being This confusion is important in that it shows Stephens inability to grasp abstraction He is a young child who does not yet understand how someone can say one thing and mean something else This also explains his trouble in the future with solving the riddles and puzzles presented to him by his classmates at Clongowes Stephen is very thoughtful and observant and looks for his own way to explain or rationalize the things that he does not understand In this manner he can find those traits that he associates with the Blessed Mary in his protestant playmate Eileen Her hands are long and white and thin and cold and soft That was ivory a cold white thing That was the meaning of Tower of Ivory p36 Her fair hair had streamed out behind her like gold in
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