A proper way of living

“I wonder you stand it,” said Mr. Graves. “Now there’s none of that here. A quiet, orderly, domestic life, Mr. Bunter, has much to be said for it. Meals at regular hours; decent, respectable families to dinner–none of your painted women–and no valeting at night, there’s much to be said for it. I don’t hold with Hebrews as a rule, Mr. Bunter, and of course I understand that you may find it to your advantage to be in a titled family, but there’s less thought of that these days…”(32)

The length of Mr. Graves’ sentences grows exponentially from the start of his dialogue to the end. He starts by disparaging certain lifestyles and groups and ends praising Sir Reuben and Miss Ford, revealing a tension between the upper and lower classes, especially in regards to what he evidently sees as a ‘proper’ way to live/old money vs new money; also, obviously, he’s very antisemitic, which seems to so far reflect a certain attitude surrounding Jews in the broader society.

Failures of Communication

“But Rezia could not understand him. Dr. Holmes was such a kind man. He was so interested in Septimus. He only wanted to help them, he said. He had four little children and he had asked her to tea, she told Septimus.

So he was deserted. The whole world was clamouring: Kill yourself, kill yourself, for our sakes.” (90)

Rezia and Septimus share the narration in these lines, but they fundamentally overlook each other’s perspectives. To Rezia, Dr. Holmes is a kind man who wants to help Septimus; Septimus evidently doesn’t feel the same way. The reporting verbs in the excerpt also keep Dr. Holmes and in the next line, Rezia, at a distance, separate from Septimus’ own thoughts and beliefs which are conveyed through free indirect discourse. In the passage, many people are talking to Septimus – Rezia, Dr. Holmes, the world – but none truly reach him.

An Awful Power

“No king or emperor on this earth has the power of the priest of God. No angel or archangel in heaven, no saint, not even the Blessed Virgin herself has the power of a priest of God: the power of the keys, the power to bind and to loose from sin, the power of exorcism, the power to cast out from the creatures of God the evil spirits that have power over them, the power, the authority, to make the great God of Heaven come down upon the altar and take the form of bread and wine. What an awful power, Stephen!”(Joyce 133)

Joyce uses a lot of repetition in this passage, emphasizing the power that priests possess. There’s some irony in this emphasis, as the priest begins to claim power over angels and archangels, the Virgin Mary, and even the power to force God to Earth; all of which runs counter to the faith. Through this, Joyce suggests that the priest and the church conversely, have no real, tangible power that Stephen should believe in, or be forgiven by – instead, they are motivated by an emotional and spiritual power to control and lord over others,.

The World Is NOT His Oyster

“Oh, the pearl!” poor Decombe uneasily sighed. A smile as cold as a winter sunset flickered on his drawn lips as he added: “The pearl is the unwritten–the pearl is the unalloyed, the rest, the lost!”

James, “The Middle Years,” 353.

Decombe has a contentious relationship with his art; idea of missed opportunities, interpretations, last chances. Presence of art is less valuable than the absence? What value does art have on Decombe vs Doctor Hugh?