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Portrait of the Artist Chap 2

Portrait of the Artist Chap 2 - Portrait of the Artist as a...

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Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Chapter II Summary The chapter opens with Stephen at home; he is spending the summer with his family, who have moved from Bray to Blackrock, about five miles southeast of Dublin. Stephen enjoys being with his father and his great- uncle, Uncle Charles. He begins each day observing Uncle Charles as the old man in his tall hat, humming Irish tunes, leaves the house, smoking his foul-smelling "black twist" of tobacco and making ready to perform his morning defecation ritual in the "arbour" (the outhouse). After the ritual, Uncle Charles and Stephen take their usual daily walk through the town marketplace; their next stop is the park, where they meet, as usual, Mike Flynn, an old friend of Stephen’s father's; Mike is training Stephen to be a runner. Flynn, according to Stephen’s father, has put "some of the best runners of modern times through his hands." Stephen has noticed Mike's "flabby stubblecovered face . . . and long stained fingers through which he roll[ed] his cigarette"; he doubts his father's exaggerated endorsement of Mike’s qualifications. Returning from his workout, Stephen accompanies Uncle Charles to the chapel, where the old man prays. Stephen doesn’t understand his uncle's serious piety and wonders why his uncle is praying so fervently. On weekends, Stephen takes long walks with his father and Uncle Charles, listening patiently to family stories and their conversations about Irish politics. Although Stephen fails to understand the meanings of some of their grown-up words, he has begun to find pleasure in the adventurous and romantic language of The Count of Monte Cristo. Reading the novel, he is transformed into the dark and dashing lover of the beautiful and modest Mercedes; with his friend Aubrey Mills, Stephen reenacts numerous battles and deeds of daring which help satisfy his boyhood appetite for a life of romance and adventure. At the close of summer, Stephen learns that he will not be returning to Clongowes Wood College because of his father's mounting debts. Shortly thereafter, Stephen and his family move to a "cheerless house" in Dublin; there, Stephen realizes that his father is a financial failure. He becomes self-conscious and bitter, embarrassed by the squalid "change of fortune" which painfully affects his life. In order to escape his unhappiness, Stephen immerses himself in fantasies of love and romance. Thoughts of the beautiful Mercedes merge with his loving memories of a certain girl; he attempts to calm his young storm of emotions by writing a poem to his beloved, "To E— C—." In an artistic re-creation of a meeting with this girl, Stephen composes a poem to her in romantic, Byronesque language. Afterward, he yearns even more for the girl, puzzling over his undefined ache for satisfying physical love—which, of course, he has not yet experienced.
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