“And Elizabeth waited in Victoria Street for an omnibus. It was so nice to be out of doors. She thought perhaps she need not go home just yet. It was so nice to be out in the air. So she would get on to an omnibus. And already, even as she stood there, in her very well cut clothes, it was beginning. … People were beginning to compare her to poplar trees, early dawn, hyacinths, fawns, running water, and garden lilies, and it made her life a burden to her, for she so much preferred being left alone to do what she liked in the country, but they would compare her to lilies, and she had to go to parties, and London was so dreary compared with being alone in the country with her father and the dogs.” (131)

Here, we can see another instance of Elizabeth and her surroundings being written similarly to the randomness of a stream of conscious. She begins with thinking about the omnibus, the air, and the omnibus again, and then the passage zooms out, involving the surrounding people into the stream of thoughts, but instead of an internal consciousness, it’s a collection of external thoughts. Visual opinions start to pop up of what Elizabeth looks like to other people, and bringing it back in to her internal thought of it being a burden, back to the thoughts, then to how London is for her. This randomness feels similar to a stream of conscious in a way where a thought changes with what a person sees or interacts with just like how the peoples’ behaviors changed depending on what they saw or interacted with.

God’s Punishment versus God’s Forgiveness

“The muddy streets were gay. He strode homeward, conscious of an invisible grace pervading and making light his limbs. In spite of all he had done it. He had confessed and God has pardoned him. His soul was made fair and holy once more, holy and happy.” (122)

After pages and pages of hearing the punishment of hell and Stephen’s growing fear and agony towards the possibility of ending up in that situation, we read the forgiveness fill almost less than a single page of the book. While this contrast caught my eye, word choices further highlighted situations, one of them being “In spite of all he had done it.” The pages of fear towards hell over his adultery being summarized as “all” was an interesting choice, as if the sin were over-dramaticized. Right after, the passage says “He had confessed and God had pardoned him.” It seemed to be ironic to me, that God had the power to pardon him and, according to Stephen, only did when he confessed. When just two paragraphs before, God is said to have “mercifulness,” Stephen seems to leave out the agony he had gone through — agony God could have pardoned — and immediately credits his forgiveness to God. If God, in this story, were so merciful, then why did Stephen become physically ill upon the pages of the priest’s description of his possible punishment from his adultery?

Never getting better

“He should never again, as at one or two great moments of the past, be better than himself. The infinite of life had gone, and what was left of the dose was a small glass engraved like a thermometer by the apothecary.“

– Henry James, The Middle Years page 335

I think this portion was a strong way to introduce the theme of the next few pages. It’s later described as something “passing away,” this deep loss of ever having another chance, and how strong and helpless it makes an aging person feel.