Guilt and Amendment

“A restless feeling of guilt would always be present with him: he would confess and repent and be absolved, confess and repent and be absolved again, fruitlessly……But the surest sign that his confession had been good and that he had sincere sorrow for his sin was, he known the amendment of his life.

—I have amended my life, have I not? He asked himself” (Joyce, 166).

Throughout Chapter 4 Stephen is constantly trying to justify himself through devoting his life to being a good Catholic, down to the weekday. His tone changes however, when he becomes angry and ashamed that his past temptations come back for him and he has to repent again. Though he says “The very frequency and violence of temptations showed him at last the truth of what he had heard about the trials of the saints” (165) he finds the cycle of penance and “sin” to be constant humiliation and pointless. He changes his tone again when he comes to the realization that his life has changed for the better and he’s saved himself from an eternity of misery. Stephen lets his guilt consume him and keep him secured to his Catholic faith.