“The world for all its solid substance and complexity no longer existed for his soul save as a theorem of divine power and love and universality. So entire and unquestionable was this sense of the divine meaning in all nature granted to his soul that he could scarcely understand why is anyway necessary that he should continue to live. Yet that was part of the divine purpose and he dared not to question its use, he above all others who had sinned so deeply and so foully against the divine purpose.”
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (150)
In the last chapter, Stephen is troubled with guilt and resentment, facing nightmares and fears not based on reality. In Chapter 4, Stephen turns to God and prayer to atone for his sins that he deeply resents. This quote represents the tone shift of existentialism into the passage as Stephen’s devotion emerges. The text references a “divine” power that harbors love and meaning, a concept related to God. Stephen is shown questioning the divine and his purpose in living. However, Stephen halts his existential thought after being reminded of his sin and returns to the importance of the divine purpose.