By Joyce James
By Joyce James
Portrait of the Artist as a Young man is a fictional autobiography of James Joyce’s first twenty years of life. Many scholars argue about exactly which parts are fictional and true, but it is universally agreed that Stephen Dedalus is James’ fictional alter-ego and that most of the story comes from James’ life.
Like Stephen Dedalus, James was born and raised in Ireland by a middle-lower class family along with nine other brothers and sisters. His father was constantly in money troubles, and his mother was a devout Catholic. He went to school at the Jesuit boarding college Clongowes, and then was taken out because his father couldn’t pay the tuition. He was then accepted into the prestigious Belvedere and graduated from University College of Dublin. After graduating, James Joyce moved to Europe, traveling abroad and spending most of his life away from his home country. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man ends at the point where Stephen leaves Dublin to travel the world.
James Joyce was born in Ireland in 1882. During the time in which he was growing up, the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s, Ireland was in the process of breaking free from the rule of Great Britain. The country was divided: the Catholics wanted independence, and the Protestants wanted to stay with Great Britain. Even though James didn’t understand everything that was going on at the time, he caught on to the political and religious tension. This tension shows up throughout Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
In the beginning of the novel, especially, references are made to Parnell. A Catholic who wanted independence for Ireland, Parnell was found having an affair with a married woman and the Catholic Church was blamed. The Christmas dinner scene is one argument about the role of the Catholic Church, the need for independence, and Parnell. These feelings of freedom versus bondage end up in Portrait of the Artist in Stephen’s need to be free of religious and social conventions.
James Joyce threaded many philosophies throughout his novel, especially making use of Thomas Aquinas’ views on beauty and art, and modernism. The novel itself follows Aquinas’ progression of lyrical, epical, and dramatic art.
Many different styles of writing and lyricism are used in Portrait of the Artist, and the book is almost divided up into three sections, each with its own individual style. In the first section, Stephen is a child. Most of the writing is in stream of consciousness and relies heavily on sensory details. The second section consists of Stephen’s time at the University. By this point, many of Stephen’s philosophical ideas have formed, and much of the writing takes place through extensive dialogue. Finally, the last chapter switches from first person limited to third person through Stephen’s journal. This is designed to show Stephen’s progression from an innocent child to an intellectual and an artist.
Portrait of the Artist as a Young man follow young Stephen Dedalus on his journey from childhood to adulthood. The story begins with a stream of consciousness narrative of Stephen’s toddler life, mere bits and pieces of memory.
As Stephen gets older, he is sent to boarding school at Clongowes, a Jesuit college based in the Catholic faith. Stephen is homesick and feels alienated from the other boys at school. He has one friend, Fleming, and even they aren’t that close.
During the summer, Stephen spends time with his Uncle Charles. He is still young, but is getting to the age where he can pick up on the tensions around him. He realizes when he isn’t sent back to Clongowes in the spring that his family is having money trouble, and soon they are forced to move to Dublin.
After a period of free time, Stephen begins attending a prestigious school, also based in Catholicism, called Belvedere. He begins to become interested in theatre and art and having tumultuous feelings brought about by puberty. He has his first sexual experience with a Dublin prostitute during a visit to the brothels, and, although at first he finds it liberating, he soon begins spiraling in guilt over his thoughts and actions.
During a week-long retreat, the teachers at Belvedere give sermon after sermon on the topics of judgment, sin and hell. The sermons teach that the world is divided in holiness and sin; if you sin, you go to hell to suffer for all eternity, and if you are pious then your soul can be saved. Deeply disturbed by the sermons, Stephen throws himself into a life of devotion, constantly praying, confessing, and suppressing his physical senses in an effort to avoid temptation.
His newfound adherence to the rules of religion does not go unnoticed, and soon a priest asks Stephen if he has a vocation to join the brotherhood. Briefly, Stephen imagines himself as a priest, but then, after leaving the meeting, repels the idea. He realizes that he is doomed to sin, to fall, because of his love of all things beautiful. He cannot live a passionless life cooped up in a church, even if it means risking his eternal soul to break free.
Stephen’s family is forced to move again, for financial reasons, and Stephen decides to attend University. He walks down by the beach, ignoring his old friends from Belvedere, and musing over his destiny. At this point, he knows he cannot join the priesthood, but doesn’t know exactly not she is a figment of his imagination; however, her beauty stirs his soul and causes him to have an epiphany. He must not be constrained by his family, religion, or society. He must be free to pursue a life of beauty, intellectualism, and passion. In other words, he must become a true artist.
At the University, Stephen becomes friends with a group of fellow intellectuals. They engage in many arguments about politics, philosophy, and religion. Stephen becomes obsessed with another girl his age and thinks about her constantly.
He realizes, however, that his ideas are independent of his friends. He is also worried about his mother, who is upset that he is openly questioning the faith. He decides that the only way he is going to fulfill his destiny is to leave Ireland behind. The novel ends with Stephen packing his bags, looking forward to the future and his life as a true artist.
True to the title of the novel, art is a principal driving force behind Stephen’s character. As he grows up, he realizes he is different from everyone else, and that the pursuit of beauty is his calling. This pursuit turns into art when he goes to University. Stephen’s view of art is heavily influenced by the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. He believes that art is the intangible nature of the soul made tangible, and shared with others. Something only becomes true art when it has been transferred into the minds of the audience, and the artist is merely the tool for that to happen.
Even as a child, Stephen was drawn to beauty in all forms. After attempting to live a life devoid of beauty as a priest, he realizes that it is a part of his nature and that he can’t be separated from it. After he turns down the opportunity join the brotherhood, Stephen has an epiphany when he sees a beautiful, bird-like girl standing in the sea. Her beauty affects his soul, and her image is burned into his mind forever. At that instant, he realizes that he must live his life in pursuit of beauty.
Much of Stephen’s struggles focus on freeing himself from his society, his religion, his family, and even his nationality. During his childhood days, the struggle between freedom and bondage is etched into Stephen’s mind as he picks up on Ireland’s struggle to free itself from Great Britain. These same sorts of struggles follow Stephen as he grows up, and when he gets to University he is mocked for not siding with the nationalists. He doesn’t side with them because he is focused on finding his own freedom and forging his own path.
Growing up in a highly religious household, Stephen is indoctrinated into Catholicism from a young age. Even when he gets older and frees himself from the confines of the religion, he still holds his taught prejudice against Protestants. Stephen’s relationship with Catholicism is emotional and tumultuous. After he hits puberty, he attempts to control his sexual urges by throwing himself into religious discipline. He wracks himself with guilt over his “sinful” thoughts and feelings and becomes addicted to confessionals. After he breaks free of Catholicism, he attempts to go as far away from it as possible, entering instead the realm of the intellectual.
At its core, Portrait of the Artist is a story about growing up and becoming self-aware. Over the course of the novel, Stephen goes from an innocent toddler to a fully-fledged intellectual, with a solid philosophy and knowledge of what he wants out of life. At first, it is hard for Stephen to come to grips with the fact that his childhood innocence is gone, and he often makes references to the innocence and guile of others, especially younger women. When he decides to become an intellectual, however, he consciously abandons his childhood and his innocence.
When Stephen hits puberty, he begins feeling extremely guilty about sins he commits, sins he can’t control. He starts thinking of his body as a constant temptation, and even attempts to numb himself to all sensation to prevent sinning. He spends a lot of time wondering about the nature of specific sins, or whether or not something counts as a sin. Catholicism doesn’t provide him with all the answers, and so he must decipher the actions of others for himself. During his paranoid phase, he is worried that he is constantly sinning and that even going to confessional all the time doesn’t purify his soul.
Stephen as a young boy is curious about politics. He feels inadequate when he realizes he doesn’t have enough knowledge to follow the conversations of the adults around him. He eagerly tries to make sense of the political conversation, which climaxes at the Christmas dinner scene. Stephen does not have any dialogue, but the adults spend the entire chapter yelling at each other. He doesn’t understand why everyone is so angry. By the time he goes to University, he is knowledgeable enough about the world to participate in political conversation of his own.
When Stephen first goes to school, he feels alienated from the other boys his age. He admires the boys that are strong and fast, and that can joke around with each other. By comparison, he feels small and weak. The summer before he attends Belvedere, he openly acknowledges to himself that he doesn’t think the same way that other children his age do. The sound of children playing annoys him and he is moody and sensitive. Because he views the world in such a totally different way from others, he doesn’t develop close friends until he goes to University, where he can engage in intellectual conversation with others who can follow him.
As a budding poet, the nature and meaning of words and speech fascinates Stephen. Words trigger in his mind extremely vivid images, fantasies, and even sensations. Thinking of one word often leads to another, and he becomes distracted by engaging words people say. Sometimes it is his way of coping with the boredom around him. As he gets older, he begins noticing speech patterns and lyricism. He notices the accents of almost everyone he meets at University, from the genteel to the simple. He even openly berates himself by judging others based solely on the way they talk.
Before Stephen has an outlet for all his “artistic energy”, the only way he can cope is by sensing the world around him. He is obsessed with the way things sound, feel, smell, and look. During the childhood portion of the novel, the descriptions in Stephen’s stream of consciousness often take up entire pages. When he tries to cut off his pursuit of beauty, he attempts to cut off his senses as a way of keeping him away from that world. He numbs his sense of smell, sits uncomfortably in chairs, and won’t even sit by the fire when it’s cold. This isn’t something he can keep up for good, and soon realizes that he is going to fall. Often, certain smells or sounds bring Stephen back to reality or send him into his own mind.
The protagonist of the novel. As a young child, Stephen feels alienated from his classmates and confused by the world around him. He is sent to Catholic boarding school where religion becomes a substantial part of his life. He eventually breaks free of Catholicism, realizing that his true calling in life is the pursuit of beauty and the creation of art. He attends University, where he is known as a poet; however, he still feels trapped by his society. He leaves his hometown of Dublin to forge his own life overseas, and become a true artist.
Stephen’s father; he begins having money troubles when Stephen is in boarding school and is forced to move his family to Dublin. He recognizes that Stephen is a talented boy, but doesn’t seem to take him seriously, at one point calling him a “lazy bitch”. Mr. Dedalus has a normal mind; at least, that is how Stephen feels. He enjoys reminiscing about his past and has a strong sense of patriotism.
Stephen is closer to his mother than his father. Mrs. Dedalus is a gentle woman who avoids conflict whenever possible. She stays out of political arguments, preferring to try and keep the peace. She is a devout Catholic, and her religious influence affects Stephen greatly. When the family’s money situation was favourable, she was used to a life of luxury. Stephen thinks that living a life of poverty makes her stressed, although she still takes care of him when he comes home.
Stephen’s uncle; Stephen spends an entire summer with Uncle Charles as his companion, right before their family’s money troubles begin. He helps Uncle Charles run errands, and in return Uncle Charles gives him sweets. Like Mrs. Dedalus, Uncle Charles prefers to stay out of political arguments. After the move to Dublin, Uncle Charles becomes more senile, until finally he is incapable of even running errands as he used to.
A friend of the family; a well-read and opinionated woman. Before he went to school, Dante used to teach Stephen random facts. Stephen remembers vividly her brushes, and even as a child realized she was highly involved in politics. She is easily angered when her religious view or political view is threatened and ends up yelling at the family during the Christmas dinner scene. She accuses them of being “false Catholics” for taking the side of Parnell. She storms out of the house and isn’t seen again.
Although Parnell never actually appears in the novel, he is nevertheless the source of much conflict. Parnell was an Irish political leader who was a strong advocate of separating from Great Britain. Stephen’s father was a supporter of his. Parnell was found to be having an affair with a married woman, and the Catholic Church was blamed. The Christmas dinner argument is about Parnell’s condemnation.
A minor character, but of significance to Stephen. When Stephen accidentally broke his glasses, he was punished by Father Dolan. Stephen was utterly humiliated for the first time in his life, and was so distraught he told the rector of the college he was wrongly punished. He was always proud of standing up to the authorities, but he finds out when he’s older that his father laughed at the story with both men involved. It is one of the first times Stephen realizes the unfairness and unpleasantness in the world.
Stephen first meets Father Arnall at Clongowes, where Father Arnall teaches Latin. He is known for being strict, but not hateful. When Stephen goes to school at Belvedere, Father Arnall is the one giving the sermons during the retreat. These sermons affect Stephen so seriously he fears for the purity of his soul and begins living so as to not commit any sins. Stephen becomes known for being dedicated, and, as a result, is asked to join the order.
Stephen’s rival at Belvedere. The two are constantly competing for first in the class. Heron taunts Stephen and makes fun of him on several occasions, and Stephen is surprised to find out that he holds Heron no grudge for his actions.
A long-time crush of Stephen’s. Emma appears throughout the novel. The first time they meet they ride a tram home together and Stephen realizes she is flirting with him. He can’t work up the courage to kiss her, however, and after their encounter ends up putting his emotions into verse for the first time. He sees her again at his play, and is frustrated when he can’t find her outside. Eventually they both end up at University, and Stephen spends an exorbitant amount of time figuring out where she is. Although he doesn’t know her well, to Stephen she is the ideal of womanly beauty.
It is not even clear if the girl in the river is real, or a figment of Stephen’s imagination. After being accepted to University Stephen is walking by the sea, and sees a beautiful, bird-like girl standing in the water. She is almost a woman, and when she looks at him her beauty is burned into his soul. At this moment, he realizes that his true calling in life to be an artist and that nothing else will satisfy his nature.
Stephen’s best friend at University. Stephen tells Cranly all of his secrets, about his soul and his life, and holds nothing back. Cranly is always there to listen without saying anything in return. Toward the very end of the novel, they have a disagreement about morals. Stephen wants to break away from religion and society, and Cranly urges him to make everyone happy by not doing so. Stephen realizes that the only way he will ever be free of the things that bind him is by leaving Dublin.
A peasant student at the University, and also one of Stephen’s friends. He has a simple country accent and is a strong Irish patriot, much like Stephen’s father. Davin accuses Stephen of not being a true Irishman because he has too much pride to stand up for his country. While Stephen admires Davin’s straightforward nature, he doesn’t agree with his way of thinking.
Another friend of Stephen’s at the University. Lynch is not particularly well off, much like Stephen. Stephen seems to use Lynch as a springboard for ideas and philosophies, and Lynch is willing to hang on to Stephen’s every word. Stephen’s lecture on the nature of art and beauty happens during a conversation with Lynch while they are walking around the gardens of campus.
A student at the University who profoundly annoys Stephen. Highly political and idealistic, he challenges Stephen to sign a petition for Universal peace. Stephen refuses to sign, starting an argument. Everything about MacCann annoys Stephen: the way he looks, dresses, and especially his accent. MacCann thinks he is superior to Stephen because of his ideals, and Stephen detests MacCann for the high value he puts on politics.
The chapter begins with snippets from Stephen’s earliest memories. His father is strong and has a hairy face. He accidentally wet the bed, and his mother cleaned it up. His mom smells pleasant, and she plays the piano so he can dance for Uncle Charles and Dante. Stephen thinks he will marry Eileen when he grows up.
Stephen is older now, playing football on the playground. He feels small and weak, unlike the other boys. He admires Rody Kickham, the captain of the football team and dislikes Nasty Roche. Roche says Stephen’s name is weird, and Stephen suddenly remembers his parents dropping him off at boarding school. His mother was crying, and his Dad told him to call if he needed anything. He remembers them waving as they were driving away.
Stephen’s mind comes back to the scrimmage. It is wintertime, and he wishes he were inside the study hall relaxing by a fire instead of out in the cold.
Yesterday, a boy named Wells pushed Stephen into the square ditch. It was wet and slimy. Stephen hears the prefect yell “all-in”, but some of the boys still want to play ball. Simon Moonan tells them to stop because the prefect is watching, and he is called a suck by the other boys. The word suck sounds weird to Stephen, and it makes him feel hot and cold.
In the study hall, it is the hour for sums. Father Arnall turns it into a competition. There are two teams, the red and white roses. Stephen truly wants to win for the white team, but sums are too hard. He gets fixated on all the colors, and the red team wins.
At lunch, Stephen has trouble eating. Fleming asks him if he feels okay, and Stephen says he’s fine. The sound of the cafeteria is roaring in his ears, reminding him of a train. Wells comes up to him, and asks if he kisses him mother goodnight. When Stephen says yes, he is mocked. He changes his answer to no and is laughed at again. He remembers his mother’s soft lips and wonders if there is a right answer.
In study hall, they are studying geography. Stephen is counting down the days until Christmas break. He gets lost in thoughts about God and the nature of the universe, but thinking so much hurts his head.
The front of his geography book is red and green and makes him remember Dante’s brushes. One has a maroon velvet back for Michael Davitt, and the other green for Parnell. Dante ripped the green back off Parnell’s, and told Stephen Parnell was a bad man. Stephen doesn’t know much about politics and wishes he understood it better.
In his dorm, Stephen says his prayers before getting into bed so he won’t be sent to Hell. He drifts off to sleep and dreams about a ghostly black dog and a marshal wounded in Prague. He prays for the nightmares to stop, and instead dreams about red and green for Christmas.
In the morning, Stephen feels hot and weak. Fleming tells him that he’s sick and to stay in bed. The boys agree it was mean of Wells to shove Stephen into the ditch. Stephen is worried he will get some deadly disease. After the other boys are gone, Wells asks Stephen if he’s going to tell on him. Stephen says he won’t, and Wells apologizes for pushing him.
The prefect comes in, helps him get dressed, and takes him to the infirmary. Brother Michael is waiting, and he smells like medicine. Stephen is put into bed and told to rest. He dreams about his own funeral. If Stephen died, maybe Wells would be sorry for pushing him into the water.
Stephen’s bed-mate, Athy tells him stories and riddles. Stephen is starting to feel better. He dreams that he is on a pier in front of the ocean, and Brother Michael is on the head of a ship. Brother Michael announces that Parnell is dead, and Dante walks forward in a maroon velvet dress with a green mantle.
Stephen is sitting at the Christmas table with Uncle Charles, Dante, Mr. Casey, and his father. They are all waiting for Christmas dinner to be ready. Stephen’s father, Mr. Dedalus pours the men some whiskey.
When the meal is ready, Stephen says grace. He remembers buying the turkey at the market, and is looking forward to pudding being served at the end of the meal. It is Stephen’s first dinner at the table and not in the nursery.
Mr. Dadelus serves the food, and the adults begin arguing politics. Mr. Dedalus believes that catholic priests should not teach politics, and Dante believes that preachers must guard their flocks. Dante ends up yelling, and Uncle Charles reminds everyone that Stephen is present.
Dante becomes embarrassed, and there is a long awkward silence. Mr. Dedalus tries to lighten the mood, but no one is talking. Suddenly Dante begins arguing again, she accuses them of being renegade Catholics.
Stephen wonders who is right. He doesn’t know much about politics, other than Catholics are good, and Protestants are bad. Dante wouldn’t let Stephen play with Eileen as a child because her family was protestant. Now, Dante is arguing on behalf of the priests, and Stephen’s father on behalf of the politicians. Mr. Casey begins yelling: “Away with God!” and Dante walks out of the house.
Parnell is revealed to be the former king of Ireland and is now dead. Stephen notices a tear in his father’s eye.
Back at school, the boys are gossiping in the schoolyard. Some of the upperclassman have gotten in trouble for something, and there are rumors about what.
This morning, a boy on a bike broke Stephen’s glasses, so he can’t see everyone’s faces well. What he lacks in sight, he makes up for in hearing. There is a cricket game going on, and the noise is distracting.
Wells heard the boys got caught drinking the alter wine in the chapel. Stephen is shocked that they would do such a thing in a holy place. He remembers his first communion, the most momentous day of his life.
Athy tells the boys they are all wrong, and if they want to know the truth to ask Simon Moonan. The boys want to know what happened, and Athy finally tells them the boys were caught smugging. Stephen doesn’t know what smugging is (a sexual act) and so his mind travels to Boyle, one of the boys in trouble. His nickname is Lady Boyle, because he’s always examining his nails.
Thinking of hands reminds Stephen of Eileen’s hands. They were ivory and soft, and her hair was blond in the sunlight. He is reminded of the phrases “tower of ivory” and “house of gold”.
The group of young boys is quiet now, and afraid. They wonder if they will be punished too. The older boys had to choose between getting flogged by Mr. Gleeson or being expelled, and only one chose the flogging. The sounds of cricket are still in the background and fill the scared silence. Stephen thinks Mr. Gleeson’s fingernails are pointy and cruel.
One of the prefects calls “all-in” and the boys head to study hall.
It is time for writing lessons. Mr. Hartford walks around the room, gently correcting student’s mistakes. Stephen is glad that Mr. Hartford is nice and not cruel. He is preoccupied with sin and punishment and wonders what kind of sin the boys committed.
Next hour is Latin with Father Arnell. He is upset because no one knows the material. He singles Fleming out for not answering the question correctly, and has him kneel in the center of the room. Stephen wonders if it is a sin for Father Arnell to be so angry.
The prefect of studies, Father Dolan, comes in, ready to dole out some punishment. He notices Fleming in the center of the room and asks what he is in trouble for. As a lesson to the other students, Father Dolan beats Fleming’s hands for being idle.
Father Dolan asks Stephen why he isn’t writing. Father Arnell answers that he broke his glasses and is exempt from lesson. Father Dolan asks Stephen to come to the center of the room and interrogates him. Believing Stephen’s story to be a lie, he beats Stephen’s hands, and Stephen cries out in pain. The prefect leaves, and Stephen feels humiliated.
Father Arnell walks around the room, correcting the student’s mistakes in a gentler manner. He tells Fleming and Stephen they can go back to their seats. Stephen thinks the punishment was not fair, he was telling the truth. Even though Father Dolan is a priest, he was still wrong.
After class, the boys are mad about the punishment. They all agree it wasn’t fair, and urge Stephen to tell the rector. A student once told the rector he was wrongly punished, and Stephen puts him on par with ancient heroes and great men.
Later in the refectory, Stephen wrestles with himself over whether or not to tell the rector. He thinks he can’t, but his feet keep on walking down the hallway. He asks a maid where the rector’s room is, and knocks.
The rector tells him to come in; he is at his desk writing, and greets Stephen kindly. Stephen tells the rector that he broke his glasses and was wrongly punished for it. The rector agrees to talk to Father Dolan, and see he is not punished again.
When Stephen leaves the office, he is so excited he runs back to where the boys are waiting for him. They excitedly ask what happened, and he told them. The boys pronounce Stephen a hero and hoist him onto their shoulders, taking him back outside to the courtyard.
Stephen decides not to be proud toward Father Dolan, but humble and obedient. He wonders if there is something kind he can do for the Father to show his sincerity. Cricket practice is still going, and Stephen can hear the sound of the balls being hit.
Stephen’s family is living in Blackrock outside of Dublin. He is home for the summer, and Uncle Charles is his constant companion. He helps him run errands, and Uncle Charles gives him sweets. After errands, they go to the park, where Mike Flynn, an old friend of Stephen’s father, trains him in track. Uncle Charles prays at the chapel every day and Stephen wonders what he is praying for.
On Sundays Mr. Dedalus and Uncle Charles take their constitutional. Stephen listens intently to them talking politics, realizing he is getting to the age where he needs to know more about the world.
Stephen has the evenings to himself and reads The Count of Monte Cristo. He is fascinated by the dark avenger and imagines Mercedes. He spends some of his free time playing with a neighbor boy named Audrey Mills.
Come September, however, Audrey is back at school and Stephen is not at Clongowes. Stephen realizes his father is in some sort of trouble, or he would be in school. He feels a keen sense of unrest, especially when imagining Mercedes. He realizes he is different from others his age, as the sound of children playing now annoys him.
One day, two yellow caravans take all the furniture in the house away. The family is moving again, and it is due to Mr. Dedalus’ hardships.
They move to Dublin, and Stephen has large amounts of free time. He wanders the city, his moodiness and restlessness growing. He wishes he were in Marseilles, and has the distinct feeling he is looking for someone.
He and his mother visit family members in Dublin, although they feel like strangers to him.
At a children’s party, Stephen sits apart, observing the festivities. He realizes there is a certain joy to his loneliness. He and another young girl are the last to leave. They take the tram together, and Stephen realizes she is flirting with him. He knows he should kiss her, but doesn’t.
The next day Stephen tries to put his feelings down in poetry. This is his first real attempt at expression through art. He becomes distracted, and instead of writing poetry writes the names of some of his old classmates.
Father is sending Stephen back to school. He had a run-in with the rector of Clongowes that day, who told him about the incident with the glasses. Stephen’s father, the rector, and Father Dolan all laughed at the situation, and Stephen feels disgust.
Stephen is now a second-year student at Belvedere, second in his class. He is participating in a play and is in his dressing room watching the visitors, prefects and students out the window. He is feeling moody again and decides to go outside for some fresh air.
Outside, he spots two boys smoking. One is a fellow student named Heron, and the other is Heron’s friend, Willis. They make fun of Stephen for not smoking, and Stephen thinks Heron’s name is fitting because he looks so bird-like.
Heron and Willis saw Stephen’s father entering the playhouse with a young girl who was asking all about Stephen. They think the girl is hot, and Stephen is angry at the direction their thoughts take. The restless feeling returns more strongly than before. Heron tells Stephen to “admit” that he likes the girl, and Stephen is reminded of a memory two years earlier.
His first term at the college, Stephen was accused to having heresy in his paper. After class, Heron and his friends picked on him, mockingly asking him about poetry. Stephen declares Bryon to be the best poet, and Heron accuses Bryon of being a heretic. Stephen says he doesn’t care if Bryon is a heretic and calls the boys ignorant and stupid. He is beaten up, all the while being to “admit” that Bryon is no good. Stephen holds his ground and takes the beating.
He is surprised to realize that he holds no grudge against his classmate for the incident. His thoughts turn instead to the memory of the strange girl from that tram ride. He remembers her touch.
Suddenly a boy runs up, telling Stephen to get dressed for the play. Heron tells the boy Stephen doesn’t take orders, but Stephen doesn’t trust Heron’s camaraderie. The idea of personal honor seems trivial to him. So many people tell Stephen to be different things, and he listens to them for a time, but, in the end, all he wants is to get away from them.
Inside the vestry, a smartly dressed priest is waiting. Stephen begins getting into costume and analyzes that, although he doesn’t have stage fright, he is humiliated by his role. From the corner of the stage, he sees the girl’s eyes and experiences a rare moment of excitement and youth.
Once on stage, the play seems to take on a life of its own in front of the audience. Stephen is surprised to discover he enjoys it. After the play, he runs out to the college garden, blood boiling, ready for more adventure. He sees his family, but the girl is not with them. He runs down the hill, venting his crushed pride and desire. Eventually he calms down, and decides to go back.
Stephen is traveling with his father on a train to Cork. He muses that there is no more childish wonder at the workings of the train, or the scenery. His father’s property is to be sold at auction. When everyone is asleep, Stephen prays for the daylight to come.
In the morning, Stephen and Mr. Dedalus are getting ready at the hotel. Mr. Dedalus is singing a sad song from his youth, and Stephen is drawn by the words. Stephen’s father grew up in Cork, and they are going to visit Queen’s College, where he went to school.
At the college, Mr. Dedalus looks for his initials on the old desks. Stephen sees words carved on the top of the desks, and vividly imagines the boy carving them and being made fun of. Stephen wonders where such fantasies come from, and what they mean.
Afterwards, Mr. Dedalus is telling old school stories Stephen has heard before. His mind is still unfocused, and he feels sick remembering the words on the desk.
He feels utterly out of touch with reality, and even his old thoughts. He reminds himself who he is, saying his name, his father’s name, and where they are. He tries to recall his childhood, but finds that the memories have become dim. He can no longer recall complete stories, only bits and pieces, and specific names. He is trying to come to terms with the fact that he is no longer a child.
The day the property is sold, Mr. Dedalus spends the night going from bar to bar. He meets some old friends who knew him as a child, and an old man, Johnny Cashman, who knew his father. Mr. Cashman asks Stephen which are prettier, Dublin girls or Cork girls. Stephen is confused by the question and alienated from the conversation. As a teen, Mr. Dedalus had been a notorious flirt, and he hopes Stephen will become as decent a man as he is.
Listening to them talk about their childhoods, Stephen feels older than them. His childhood was dead or lost, and he never experienced that sort of excitement for life. Instead, he feels as if he is merely drifting.
Stephen won money for an academic prize. He gets his money in the bank, and the teller is friendly, which annoys Stephen. Over the next couple of months, he spends his money frivolously, buying gifts and giving out loans. Eventually, all his money is gone, and he is desolate again.
Stephen goes back to school feeling foolish. All his plans fell through, and he thinks nothing will work out for him. He begins wandering around Dublin again, plagued by thoughts of unrest and lust. He wants to sin, to experience something new.
He wanders into a bad part of town, and sees many women in colorful gowns; they are prostitutes. A woman in a bright pink gown grabs Stephen by the arm and leads him inside. She undresses and tells Stephen to kiss her. Stephen is nervous, and his body won’t bend down to kiss her. She kisses him, and he surrenders himself to her.
It is December. Stephen is staring out the window of the schoolroom, imagining his trip to the brothels that evening. He imagines looking at the whores, and the interactions between them and the men they are trying to entice. He is doodling instead of working on his equations, and his doodles turn into giant eyes.
He feared that in committing such a sin, his soul would be harmed. Instead, it brought a dark sense of peace between him and his soul. It turned the chaos of his emotions into cold knowledge. He knows he’s sinned many times, and that every sin makes him more likely to be found guilty when Judgment Day comes. However, his soul seems to lust for his own destruction.
He is a prefect in college, and the worshippers are grating on him more every day. He teaches devotionals about Virgin Mary and feels no guilt over the falseness of his position.
The bell rings, and Stephen listens to Heron and Ennis talk about trivial matters. Stephen listens but doesn’t actually pay attention. He finds a strange sense of pride in his abandonment of the church, and in his head analyzes all the seven deadly sins he has committed.
The boys are in chapel now, and the rector is seated at the Dais. He tells the prefects about the upcoming retreat. It will last from Wednesday to Friday, when there will be a confessional. Saturday and Sunday will be free days, but Monday everyone must go back to classes. The rector tells the story of Saint Francis Xavier, the patron of the college. It was said he baptized 10,000 souls in a single day. The rector upholds him as a true warrior of the faith, and Stephen feels a pang of guilt.
The first day of retreat, Father Arnell is giving the sermon. Seeing the Father brings back memories of Clongowes for Stephen.
Father Arnell begins by saying that the retreat is a time-honored tradition in reverence of Saint Francis Xavier, and is meant to be a withdrawal from the worries of life. The topics of the retreat will focus on death, judgment, hell and heaven.
He urges the boys to put away all earthly thoughts. He tells them that they are only on earth to do God’s will and save their holy souls. If they pay attention and show true discipline in their study, they will be rewarded.
After dinner, Stephen experiences a taste of fear. He fears he has become nothing more than his bestial nature, and that his soul is fat and corrupted. The next day, Stephen’s fear becomes true terror.
The first sermon is over the subject of death. Stephen feels as if he is truly dying. He experiences his life flashing before his eyes, the fading of his limbs, and even his own funeral. He realizes there is no point in being a great man or accomplishing great things on earth, because everyone is equal in judgment.
Father Arnell preaches that there are only two options after death: to be sent to the prison of purgatory, or the depths of hell. Doomsday is coming, and the only thing anyone can ever be certain of is their own death. He says a just man has no cause for terror, and that those who experience fear are certainly guilty.
Stephen acknowledges to himself that the sermon got to him. On his way home, he hears a girl laughing and is reminded of Emma, the mysterious girl who he almost kissed, and who came to his play. He feels shame for his “monstrous dreams” of her, and instead imagines himself apologizing to her chastely for his wicked thoughts and asking the forgiveness of God.
The second sermon Father Arnell tells the story of the beginning. He tells how Lucifer fell from heaven because of the sin of pride, and how he tempted Adam and Eve, tricking them into eating of the fruit from the tree of knowledge.
Father Arnell then goes into an extremely vivid account of the horrors of hell. The scariest part about hell is that there is no chance for repentance.
After the sermon, Stephen is shaky and afraid he will die any second. He can’t think about anything but hell, and convinces himself that he is actually dying.
Back in the classroom, he hears the normal sounds of students talking, which soothes him and makes him realize he is still alive. During the lesson, he sends up a prayer. He feels he must confess his sins, but not at the school.
At dusk, the third sermon begins. The second sermon used the imagination to give the students a view of the physical torments of hell. In this second half, Father Arnell is going to reveal the spiritual torments of hell.
He says that sin is divided into two parts: on one hand, the bestial urges, and on the other, the turning away of man’s higher nature. Just as there are two parts to sinning, so there are two types of punishment in hell: physical and spiritual.
The spiritual punishment is divided into three distinct parts. The greatest is the pain of loss, the second greatest the pain of consciousness, and the third greatest the pain of extension. He explains that, in hell, the soul is capable of handling more suffering and that every type of punishment can be inflicted simultaneously.
Even though the punishment for hell is so harsh, however, God is still a just God. While mortals may wonder why one sin would warrant such a severe punishment, they only do so because they cannot understand how hideous mortal sin truly is. Only one sin is needed to condemn a man for eternity. Lucifer fell in a moment, Adam and Eve’s betrayal happened in a second – because of this, Jesus had to die. Father Arnell goes on to say that every sin committed by man might as well be a thorn in Jesus’ head, or the soldier lancing his side.
He falls for the students to repent, and they will be forgiven. Stephen bows his head and prays with all his heart.
After dinner, Stephen heads upstairs to be alone in his room. He is wary of what he will find, and when he opens the door he imagines faces talking to him. He walks inside, convincing himself that it is safe, and kneels by the bed to pray like he did when he was a child.
Stephen wanted to be alone so that he could communicate with his soul. He tries to remember all his sins, but finds many of them vague. He believes it is the devil scattering his thoughts, and that he is not worthy of forgiveness. Stephen climbs into bed, huddling under the covers, and wonders why God has not struck him down already before falling asleep.
He dreams he is in a field. There are six goat-ish creatures walking around in circles. They have the faces of men and are walking in smaller and smaller circles, and there is a horrible smell of refuse and rot in the air.
Stephen wakes up, flinging his blankets off, and believes the nightmare is a vision of his own personal hell given to him by God. He can still smell the stench of the field and vomits into his sink.
When he is cleaned up, he prays, weeping for his lost innocence. He realizes he must confess, but doesn’t know how he is going to do so without being shamed to death. He gets dressed and leaves the house.
On the street, Stephen notices girls sitting on the curbstone. They aren’t pretty to look at, but Stephen knows their souls are beautiful to God. He also believes that their souls are cleaner than his, and is disgusted by how far he has fallen.
Eventually, Stephen arrives at the chapel in the city. His soul is so foul he finds it hard to pray. The priest enters the box and begins accepting penitents. Stephen thinks there is still time for him to leave, to back out, and to avoid the shame. Stephen wishes that he had remained a child, free from the clutches of sin. But he believes God to be merciful to those he loves, and so enters the box when it is his turn.
He admits his lesser sins to the priest, and then grudgingly admits his sins of sexual nature. The priest crosses his chest and asks how old Stephen is. When Stephen tells him sixteen, the priest tells him that he is too young for sins that grievous and he must stop them immediately. If Stephen prays to the Virgin Mary, maybe she will help him. The priest gives Stephen his words of absolution, and Stephen exits the chapel.
Outside, Stephen feels ultimate relief, and there is a lightness in his step. Life looks uncluttered and beautiful to his eyes.
He goes to class in a waking dream. He realizes that God has given him a second chance. The chapter ends with Stephen praying at the altar.
After the retreat, Stephen revolves his life around his newfound piety. His weekly schedule consists of sections of devotionals. Every morning he prays fervently, setting his resolve for the day. He is in a state of paranoia about his soul, and worries that he is not doing enough. Since the soul isn’t visible, he doesn’t know if his efforts are cleaning his soul a lot of just a tiny bit. Stephen carries his rosaries with him wherever he goes and is constantly saying them.
He divides the seven days of the week into seven different saints to worship, as well as the seven deadly sins to ruminate on or avoid.
He believes only in love and hate, as all other passions have left him. Even as a boy, he found it difficult to hold on to emotions and reverted instead to a state of indifference about things. However, he has to believe in love because God is love, and only God has loved his soul for all eternity. Because of his faith in God’s love, Stephen experiences a deep sense of divine meaning and spiritual exaltation.
Stephen, in a safeguard against temptation, numbs himself to sensations. He shuns all glimpses of women, lest he be tempted to go to the brothels. He purposefully cuts off his sense of hearing and smell, as well as punishing his body for the sins it committed. He sits uncomfortably in chairs, and away from the warmth of the fire. He feels that, if he can control every aspect of his body, that he will never be tempted by earthly sensations again.
Eventually, though, temptations begin to creep back despite his precautions. His flesh begins to exert more power over him. He takes a certain pride in knowing that all his hard work could be undone in an instant, and entertains the possibility of temptation while resisting the pull. In his mind, these temptations are further proof that he is on the right path, and the teachings at the retreat were true.
After a time, confession doesn’t bring the same sense of relief for Stephen that it did the first time. Instead of feeling clean, he feels a restless guilt. Since he is always sinning, he always needs to go to confessional, and it becomes dependence rather than a freedom.
Stephen’s newfound devotion is noticed by the brothers, and one day the director summons Stephen to his office. He engages in small talk, and Stephen waits impassively, wishing the director would get to the point of the visit. He compares his vision of the brother now to his memories as a child. He used to admire the brothers’ piety and devotion, but now the director’s small talk sounds childish to his ears. Instead of focusing on intellect, all they focus on is devotion.
The director asks Stephen if he has a vocation, an urge to join the order. He goes on to say that only one or two boys in the college can be deemed worthy of accepting, and he believes Stephen is one.
Stephen imagines himself as a priest, living a life of devotion and prayer. As a priest, he would have power over his soul, and the souls of others; he would also have access to hidden knowledge. No sin would be able to linger on him.
The director urges Stephen to look for a sign tomorrow, and to give his answer after mass. He must be sure, because once someone becomes a priest they are in for life.
Outside, Stephen walks around campus, enjoying the evening air. The initial vision of his priesthood fades and in its place is a view of an ordered, passionless life. A feeling of immense unrest overcomes him, as if some instinct is compelling him to run. He imagines himself among the other priests, and the image now repulses him.
He suddenly realizes that the priesthood is not his destiny. Instead, he will fall. He will be driven by experience, creating his own path.
Stephen arrives at his house, where his younger brothers and sisters are just finishing up having tea. They tell him that Father is out looking for a new house, and Stephen deduces that his family’s money troubles are getting worse.
Stephen decides to go to University instead of joining the priesthood, and a sense of peace surrounds him.
Some days later, Stephen goes out walking. He is waiting for his father to be done meeting with a tutor at the University. He goes across the bridge to the seawall and passes a group of brothers. Although he knows it is not his destiny, the sight of the priests still shames him. He recalls how he escaped their wish to use him for their own purposes, and his resolve to follow his own path.
At the sea, some of his classmates are swimming. Their nakedness disturbs him, and they call out to him to join in. He doesn’t join, but their calls bring to mind the mythological meaning of his name, and he realizes that his destiny is to be an artist, to create using his own soul as fodder.
Stephen feels as if his soul has risen with this knowledge and has the urge to run to the end of the earth, free from everything he knows.
After a while, there is no one else around. Stephen is barefoot, walking in the water, musing over the distinct knowledge that his boyhood is gone forever.
Suddenly he sees a girl standing in the water, staring out to sea. She is slight and beautiful, in between a woman and a child. He stares at her, and when she turns to look at him the sight of her beauty strikes his soul. He realizes that all he wants in life is to see beauty and that this image will stay with him forever.
Stephen keeps walking, amazed at his soul’s discovery. He falls asleep in the sands in a state of bliss, and when he awakens it is dark. He watches the sky, moon and stars, feeling the movement of the entire universe.
Stephen is getting ready to go to University. He is living with his family, and their money situation hasn’t gotten any better. Stephen’s new clothes are all donated and hand-me-downs. While Stephen is getting ready, his mother helps him. She washes his face and ears and tells him that he will regret ever stepping foot in “that place”. It is inferred that Stephen changed after attending the University.
Stephen’s father calls upstairs, asking if his lazy bitch son is gone. Stephen is forced to sneak out the back of the house, and in the alley way hears a crazy nun screaming. In an effort to calm himself, he focuses on the sights, sounds and smells of the poverty-stricken area his family lives in.
On his walk to school, Stephen considers the works of Aristotle and Aquinas. He feels a strong connection to Aristotle’s philosophy, which he describes as mostly full of self-doubt and mistrust, but occasionally lit up by vivid intuition. Stephen is mirroring the state of his art, seeing it in the work of Aristotle.
It is already eleven o’clock, and he is late for his first lecture. He has to remind himself what day of the week it is, and figure out what class he is missing.
Stephen imagines all the students in class now, heads bent, diligently taking notes. When he is in class, his head is always up and his mind wandering. There is only one other student who does the same, and his name is Cranly.
Cranly is one of Stephen’s close friends, although the exact nature of their relationship isn’t quite clear. Stephen told Cranly all his secrets, about the journey of his soul and his epiphany. Cranly listened without saying a word.
Still walking, Stephen passes the statue of the national poet of Ireland. The statue reminds him of another one of his friends named Davin, a peasant student with a simple speech. One day, Davin told Stephen a story he had never told anyone else. Davin, when he was walking to a nearby village, stopped by a house and knocked on the door. When a woman greeted him, he asked her politely for a glass of water. She tries to get him to stay with her, and he refuses.
Lost in thought, Stephen comes back to the present when he feels a tug on his arm. A young urchin girl is trying to sell him blue flowers for his lady. He tells the girl he doesn’t have a lady, or money to buy flowers. He feels ashamed by his and her poverty.
At University, Stephen has already missed his first class and won’t make it in time for the second. He goes to his third classroom early, and finds it empty except for the dean, who is trying to start a fire. The dean is a priest, and everything about him tells Stephen that he is God’s servant. Stephen seems to look down on him, however, by constantly noting his lack of joy and expressionless eyes.
Stephen and the dean engage in a philosophical conversation about the nature of art. Stephen doubts himself, and the dean offers some encouraging words.
In class, Stephen has trouble paying attention. His mind focuses, not on the lecture but on the other students and their remarks. After class in the hallway, one of the students named MacCann is trying to get everyone to sign a petition for universal peace. MacCann approaches Stephen, attempting to get him to sign, and Stephen refuses. A battle of wits begins, consisting of Irish politics, Latin phrases, and classical literary references. Stephen is seen by the other students as a sort of poet, and there are a lot of mild insults being passed around.
Cranly, Stephen and a boy named Temple, who admires Stephen’s guts, walk out to the garden. When they are alone, Cranly calls Stephen a bloody idiot. Outside, they meet Davin and Lynch and begin another philosophical conversation. Davin accuses Stephen of not being a true Irishman because of his pride. He believes that Ireland should come first, and poetry second. Stephen has a much more pessimistic view of Ireland, probably due to his extreme dislike of poverty.
After their heated argument, Stephen and Lynch go out to the gardens. Stephen offers Lynch a cigarette because he knows Lynch is poor. The two friends begin talking instead of arguing, with Stephen mostly lecturing Lynch. Lynch asks questions such as “what is art?” and “what is beauty?” which Stephen answers.
Stephen admires substantially the philosophies of Thomas Aquinas. He believes that art is a way of expressing the intangible contents of the soul in such a way as to make them tangible to others. They also discuss the nature of beauty and of women. Stephen brings up the point that different types of women are considered beautiful in different cultures. There is the explanation that men find certain women beautiful because evolution convinces them of fertility. Stephen, however, finds this view dreary and decidedly un-artistic.
Stephen goes on to say that beauty needs three things to be considered universal: wholeness, harmony, and radiance. To comprehend wholeness, the artist must look at an object (or person) from every angle, and in every condition, seeing everything about them. When their wholeness is defined, then the artist understands the relationship between the object or person and the rest of the world. This is harmony. Radiance happens when the beauty is taken into the mind. Stephen calls this “the enchantment of the heart”. This definition of beauty is a general one, applied mostly to the literary arts.
After the issue of beauty is discussed, the boys turn back to art. Stephen’s view of art he admits is mostly based on Aquinas. He is occupied with the theory of esthetic and uses these definitions of art and beauty to puzzle out his beliefs on estheticism.
Lynch asks about the relation of beauty to art, and art to the soul. Stephen answers with his theory of esthetic, which consists of three stages: lyrical, epical, and dramatic.
In the lyrical stage, the art is created by the artist. It is wholly personal and shows the artist’s image in immediate relation to himself. Most likely it arises from an instant of pure emotion and is relatively straightforward in form.
In the epical stage, the art moves away from being downright tied to the artist when the artist begins self-analyzing. This causes the art to step outside itself, and it is no longer purely personal. This is the in-between stage.
The final stage is the dramatic stage, in which the art has taken on a life of its own and is quite separate from the artist who created it. The audience, whoever they may be, have taken the art into their own minds, and given it a new radiance.
It begins raining, and the boys run to the library. At the entrance, a girl is waiting with some of her friends under the awning. It is implied that she is Emma, the girl from the party long ago, and the one who came to Stephen’s play. He listens to her and her friends engaging in trivial small talk, and reminds himself not to be judgmental because her life and heart are simple. She is preparing to leave, and Stephen watches her walk away.
Stephen wakes slowly in the early dawn. His soul is entirely at peace, and the night enchanted. He seems to be in a half-sleep, half-awake state. There is a lot of religious vocabulary used, and Stephen is inspired, creating in his mind lines for a villanelle.
After a few lines, he awakens completely and loses the rest of the poem he was creating in his head. He looks frantically for a pencil and a piece of paper, afraid to lose the inspiration. He writes the lines down on scrap paper.
He imagines Emma at the carnival ball, but when he sees her flirting with a priest anger overtakes him. Instead of remembering Emma, pictures of various poor peasant girls he’s met run through his mind. He is angry with Emma for tormenting him with her beauty.
It is now full morning, and Stephen’s poem is complete. He realizes the last poem he wrote to Emma was ten years ago, after their tram ride together. Stephen feels as if he’s somehow robbed her of her innocence by imagining her, but he can’t help it because he desires Emma with his soul.
The scene opens with Stephen watching the birds flying in the air. He muses that for thousands of years people have been watching the birds, and he wishes he could fly.
He comes back out of his thoughts and heads to the library. He wants to talk to Cranly, but Cranly is playing a game of chess with Dixon. Stephen asks Cranly to come with him; Cranly doesn’t answer but follows anyway.
Outside the library, the two run into their gang including Temple and Lynch and engage in another intellectual argument. While the boys are talking, Stephen sees Cranly take his hat off in greeting to someone. Stephen turns around, and Emma is walking out of the library. Stephen wonders if Cranly is in love with Emma too, and thinks that it would explain some of his odd behavior.
After the girl is gone, Stephen wanders away from the group. His thoughts have been overtaken with Emma, and he feels saturated with her presence. He can smell her and imagine her touch. Suddenly he feels something moving on the back of his neck – it is a louse. He picks it off him and is ashamed of his poverty and dirtiness. In anger, he walks back to his group of friends, thinking that Emma will love someone who is rich and doesn’t have lice.
Back with the group, Cranly gets mad at Temple over a remark, and overreacts. Stephen senses that there is more to Cranly’s anger than a silly remark, and asks him if they can talk.
Stephen talks to Cranly about his religious problems and his family life, especially his mother. Stephen openly doubts Catholicism, and it hurts his mother’s soul. Cranly asks Stephen if his mother is happy. Stephen thinks she isn’t happy and that the transition from her previous luxurious lifestyle to living in squalor affects her immensely. Stephen can swallow his pride and try not to hurt her with his beliefs, or stay true to his intellectual self.
Cranly calls Stephen out on being a previously pious person at his old school, and it is obvious that Stephen is not that person at all anymore. During this talk, Stephen feels close to Cranly and is thankful to have him.
The subject of the conversation transitions to love. Cranly asks Stephen if he has ever loved anyone before, and Stephen answers that he tried to love God, but it didn’t actually work out. Cranly asks if Stephen would consider being a Protestant instead of a Catholic, but Stephen replies that he has lost his religion, not his self-respect. Some of the prejudices Stephen was raised with are still intact even though he is now an intellectual and an artist rather than religious.
Cranly and Stephen pass a house where a servant woman is singing. They know the song and think it’s beautiful. Stephen looks over to Cranly and notes that he is handsome and has a strong body.
As the conversation progresses, it becomes clear that Cranly and Stephen have different ideas on morals. Cranly interrogates Stephen about what “sins” he would and would not commit. Cranly asks if he would rob anyone, and Stephen wouldn’t. He then asks if Stephen would deflower a virgin. Stephen imagines Emma, who he views as innocent, and accuses Cranly of trying to pervert him.
Stephen tells Cranly that he is through serving morals that he doesn’t believe in. He is tired of listening to his parents, listening to the church, and listening to his classmates. In Dublin, in this life, he doesn’t feel as if he is free to express himself and form his own opinions. Cranly muses about how to solve this problem, and comes to the conclusion that all Stephen can do if he wants to become a true artist is leave Dublin, and his old life, behind him.
Stephen seems OK with this, and says he will rely on silence, exile, and cunning to get him through his travels. Cranly becomes quiet and asks Stephen seriously if he could handle being utterly alone, if he even knows what it’s like not to have even a single friend. Stephen realizes that Cranly is talking about himself, and the question stumps him.
The narrative shifts in the last section from being written in third person to first. There are many short diary entries written by Stephen, beginning with a description of his long talk with Cranly about his revolt against religion and society. Stephen has an observant, analytical mind and picks apart details of Cranly’s nature in his first entry.
Most of the entries are relatively short, and detail mostly trivial interactions between Stephen and his family and schoolmates. Throughout the diary, however, Emma is threaded constantly. Stephen is always aware of her presence or lack of presence and spends a lot of his time lingering around areas where he knows she will be.
He also has many troubled dreams, and his feeling of restlessness that has followed him since he decided not to enter the priesthood continues to grow. He feels as if his instinct is leading him somewhere else now, and he realizes that he can learn no more from the University or his friends.
Ultimately, Stephen decides that he must leave Dublin. His mother helps pack his hand-me-down clothes, and even though Stephen is leaving with no money and almost no belongings, he is excited about the future. Even if it is difficult, and even if he has no friends, he will be able to forge his own experiences away from the influences of his childhood and away from Dublin. He hopes that, in the course of his journey, he will become a true artist.
“Heartsick”: Billie Jo has a crush on Mad Dog, but she does not want to tell him because she thinks he would never want her when he could have any girl. Billie Jo wishes she could talk to Ma because she does not feel comfortable talking to Daddy about her feelings.
“Skin”: There are some spots on Daddy’s face that are similar to spots his father used to have, though it is not specified what they are.
“Regrets”: Billie Jo does not go to Arley’s house anymore; actually she does not actually associate with Arley, Vera, or Mad Dog at all outside of school. One day Mad Dog starts walking Billie Jo home from school, and she wonders if he likes her because he acts different around her than other girls. She thinks that maybe she should stay away from him.
“Fire on the Rails”: Fire is something that can occur easily in Billie Jo’s environment because everything is so dry and she is scared of the possibility. When things like the school or railroad cars catch on fire no one talks to Billie Jo about it because they know about her experience with fire, but she hears about the fires when they happen anyway.
“The Mail Train”: The mail train gets stuck in the dust, but Billie Jo still gets her letter from Aunt Ellis anyway. Aunt Ellis wants Billie Jo to come and live with her in Texas, but Billie Jo does not want to, no matter how awful she wants to get away from the dust. Daddy thinks that she should wait it out and see what happens.
“Migrants”: The migrant workers are heading out because there is no work, but they say they will be back. Billie Jo does not think they will be back because everyone says that California is the place to be.
“Blankets of Black”: There are blue skies for a couple of days, so Billie Jo and Daddy decide to go to a woman’s funeral in a neighboring town. On the way, the sky suddenly turns black, and Daddy, and Billie Jo make it into a nearby house just before the dust storm begins. It is the worst storm some of them have ever seen, and when it is over Billie Jo and Daddy decide to head home rather than to the funeral. At home their barns are covered with dunes, the animals are dying, and the front door of the house was pushed open by the storm, so there is dust covering everything inside.
“The Visit”: Mad Dog comes to see Billie Jo to tell her that he is moving to Texas where he has been offered a job singing on the radio. He says that he loves the land, but he must follow his heart and his opportunities. When Mad Dog walks away from Billie Jo’s house, the dust swirls up around him.
“Freak Show”: James Kingsbury is the photographer who took photos of the Dionne quintuplets when they were born. The photographer is taking photos of the oddest damage from the dust storms that he can find, including that which is on Billie Jo’s land. She worries that she, Daddy, and the other townspeople will be seen as a freak show, just like the quintuplets became.
“Help from Uncle Sam”: The government is giving money to the farmers to help them purchase seed for their crops and feed for their animals. Daddy signs on for the aid but only after the government lady tells him he does not have to worry about paying the money back because he does not know when he would be able to do that. Billie Jo continues to consider Aunt Ellis’ offer.
“Let Down”: Arley asks Billie Jo to play at the graduation but when she tries to she is unable. Arley has nothing to say to her, and Miss Freeland is brought to tears. Billie Jo feels like she failed everyone and she hopes that soon Daddy will get a doctor to look at the spots on his face so she can have her hands looked at too. Daddy tells Billie Jo he is not going to the doctor, and she worries that both of them are going to become dust.
“Hope”: Snow begins to fall and it turns to a drizzling rain that soaks the ground. Soon the harder rain begins to fall, and it does not stop. Daddy is so excited he dances in the rain and starts cleaning off his tractor because he thinks he may need it still.
“The Rain’s Gift”: The rain brings new grass, which the cows happily graze in. The neighboring farmers are all ecstatic with the change in the weather.
“Hope Smothered”: The nice weather leaves just as quickly as it came and soon a dust storm covers everything once again. The lady who works for the government, Mrs. Love, is offering jobs to the men around town and Billie Jo wishes that she was a man so she could get one of the jobs.
“Sunday Afternoon at the Amarillo Hotel”: Everyone gathers at the hardware store on the day that Mad Dog is going to sing on the radio. Mad Dog sounds beautiful, and everyone claps when he is done except for Billie Jo. She is deep in thought and jealous that Mad Dog honestly seems to be in charge of his own life.
“Baby”: When an abandoned baby is found on the steps of the church Billie Jo asks Daddy if they can adopt it; he tells her that it would not be fair because they have nothing to offer the baby. Daddy suggests that Billie Jo give the box of Franklin’s clothes to the new baby. When Billie Jo gets home from dropping the box of clothing off she sits down at the piano and tries to write a song for all of the babies.
“Old Bones”: There are dinosaur bones found in the state of Oklahoma and Billie Jo cannot help imagining what her life would be like if dinosaurs were still around; she gets a chuckle thinking about them roaming like cattle. While Daddy is standing by Ma’s and Franklin’s graves, he thinks about Billie Jo’s desire to leave and tells her that it is time for them to let the dead be.
“The Dream”: Billie Jo has a dream one night that her piano takes on the characteristics of her mother, in the sense that she can talk to it, and it comforts her.
“Midnight Truth”: At night Billie Jo thinks about how much her mother’s death affects her while Daddy seems like he does not care anymore. She thinks that Daddy is read to die and that maybe the pond he is digging is a grave for himself. Billie Jo feels remarkably alone and vows to leave Daddy before he leaves her.
“Out of the Dust”: Billie Jo gathers the little bit of food and money that she can find and leaves her father’s house in the middle of the night. She hops on a train that is heading west and leaves the dust behind her.
“Gone West”: It has been two whole days that Billie Jo has been riding the train she is freezing cold though she has a fever. Sometimes she sees migrant workers watching the train and once she sees a girl looking at her.
“Something Lost, Something Gained”: A filthy man gets on the train in the same car as Billie Jo and asks her for some food. He tells her about his family, which he left behind because he was unable to care for them, and she tells him about her life, as well. Billie Jo falls asleep, and when she wakes the man is gone and so is her food, though he left her the photo of his family. Billie Jo gets off the train at the next stop and calls Mr. Hardly to deliver a message to her father that she will be coming home.
“Homeward Bound”: Leaving Daddy’s house was not what Billie Jo thought it would be; it was lonely and it only made her and Daddy further apart than ever before.
“Met”: When Billie Jo sees Daddy she tells him about everything that has been going through her head. She tells him that she is capable of growing but only if he will nurture and help her. She also tells Daddy that she wants him to see a doctor about the spots that are on his face and he agrees. Billie Jo finds that she is finally forgiving both her father and herself.
“Cut it Deep”: When Daddy finally goes to the doctor he finds out that he has cancer and the doctor wishes that he had visited sooner; the doctor cuts away all of the cancer that he can. Billie Jo wonders what she can do to make her hands better, and the doctor only advises her to use them. Later, Billie Jo and Daddy go through some boxes of things that Ma had kept and cannot bring themselves to get rid of much because it reminds them so much of her. Daddy tells Billie Jo that he thought of running away a few times as well, but he is not as outgoing as Billie Jo; she thinks that they are a lot alike.
“The Other Woman”: Louise is Daddy’s new friend and she is good for him; she stuck by him when Billie Jo was gone, and she gets him to do household chores. Billie Jo likes Louise, but she is scared that Louise may take Daddy’s attention away from her just when they are getting close again. Daddy admits that he never wanted Billie Jo to move to Texas, and they laugh about Aunt Ellis for a little while.
“Not Everywhere”: While Billie Jo likes Louise and is getting used to having her around, she will not allow Louise to visit the place where Ma and Franklin are buried because that is private.
“My Life, or What I Told Louise After the Tenth Time She Came to Dinner”: Billie Jo talks to Louise about her hands and how Ma used to play beautiful music. She also tells her that when she ran away it was to find something but all she truly needed was to be home. She also mentions that though her hands are not so pleasant to look at someday they will be fine again. Billie Jo likes that Louise listens but does not offer her opinions.
“November Dust”: The dust is not entirely gone, it still blows around from time to time, but the wheat has been growing and the apple trees have survived. Mad Dog has gotten a job working for a radio station in Amarillo, but he comes back to visit Billie Jo each week when he is in town. Billie Jo feels like life is a vast improvement from what it was a year ago.
“Thanksgiving List”: With Thanksgiving coming up, Billie Jo thinks about the things that she is thankful for in her life. This list includes Daddy, his smile, her home, dampness in the ground, having food that is not covered in dust, and having hope for the future.
“Music”: Billie Jo is finally starting to genuinely appreciate and love music again and she realizes that it is a part of her, and it keeps her feeling alive. She thinks about how she wanted to get away from the dust so badly at one point, but unquestionably the dust made Billie Jo the person that she is, and that person is someone who she likes.
“Teamwork”: After dinner one night, Billie Jo and Louise take a walk together and Billie Jo learns more about her Daddy’s friend. Louise teaches at the night school Daddy attended, and she has never been married before. Louise says that she must have been lonely though she never realized it until Daddy came into her life. Later on Daddy takes Louise to see Ma’s grave so he can talk to Ma about Louise and their intentions.
“Finding a Way”: Daddy is excited to start planting new and different crops now that the dust storms have let up. Meanwhile, Billie Jo has begun playing more to stretch her skin out, so her hands do not hurt so badly. Billie Jo realizes that when people talk about hard times they are usually talking about being poor or having to live with the dust but those are not real hard times; real hard times are the times when one loses hope. Louise becomes an official part of the family when she and Daddy get married and she tends to Ma’s apples just as Ma would. Billie Jo continues to play the piano because it is what she loves.
The night that Burn Sanderson tells Travis about the plague of hydrophobia Travis has trouble sleeping, but when he wakes in the morning he has forgotten about the plague and is ready to take care of the hogs. The hogs are all out on the range, and Travis needs to catch them, mark them, and castrate them one by one. The hogs are wild and must fend for themselves. Therefore, they will eat other animals if they need to, or they will attack and eat people if they can. Mama is nervous that Travis is going to be around the hogs, but Travis tells her that he will have Old Yeller with him so he will be fine, though she still worries. Travis is not worried about the job because he and Papa had developed a method that worked pretty well and he hopes to stick with it as well as he can with Old Yeller; he needs Old Yeller to distract the hogs and chase them to the place where Travis needs them to be. Travis picks an old oak tree as the place where he will mark the hogs, and he climbs up it. Old Yeller’s job is to chase the hogs over to the tree, so Travis can rope them one at a time and hoist them up to him. Travis marks the hogs on their ear with the marking that was assigned to his family; the markings help all of the settlers to know which hogs belong to which families. The squealing of the pigs and the blood that drips from them after the castration angers the other pigs so when Travis is done he has to remain in the tree for another hour waiting for them to disperse.
When Travis marks the hogs, he keeps a piece each one’s ear, so he can be sure that he has marked all of them. He thinks that he has marked them all but then Bud Searcy comes by and says there are hogs wandering around in bat cave country that Travis missed. Travis knows where the caves are though he has never been there and decides to head out with Old Yeller in the morning. The next morning, Travis and Old Yeller follow the hogs from the watering hole to the prickly-pear flats, where they are feeding, and Travis sees that there are five little pigs to mark. Travis wants Old Yeller to get the pigs over to the mesquite tree, but the pigs hide under a dirt bank instead. Travis must improvise so he uses the dirt bank above the cave as he would use a tree and lies on it to rope the pigs below him. He gets one pig, but when he goes for a second one the bank breaks under his weight, and he falls onto a group of angry hogs. Travis gets up and tries to run, but the hogs are too quick for him, and he is slashed in the back of the calf by a tusk. Travis is overcome with pain and knows he cannot move fast enough to get away. Suddenly Old Yeller jumps in between Travis and the angry hogs and he is tossed around and injured while ensuring that Travis has time to get to safety. Travis gets far enough away that he can wrap his leg and then he comes back to find Old Yeller. The hogs have left, and Old Yeller is hiding under a slab of rock, badly injured. When Travis finally coaxes the dog out of hiding, he becomes teary-eyed at Old Yeller’s condition; he has dozens of open wounds, and his belly is torn so badly that his intestines are showing. Travis puts Old Yeller back beneath the rock and blocks off the opening with a piece of wood to keep Old Yeller from trying to follow him home and to keep the dog safe until he can bring Mama back to try to help the dog. Travis limps away, and Old Yeller howls after him.
Travis is incredibly weak by the time that he gets home, and he is trembling with fever. Mama tends to Travis’ wound with turpentine and wraps it in new bandages. When Travis tells Mama they need to go get Old Yeller, Mama tells Travis that he cannot move anywhere on his leg for a week, but Travis will not stay home; he gets Jumper the mule ready to go and by the time he is ready to set out Mama has come outside ready to go and wearing her bonnet. Mama does not want Travis to have to hold onto Old Yeller on the way home so she rigs a sort of sled out of cowhide for Jumper to drag the dog on. When they reach bat country, there are buzzards swarming and Travis fears that Old Yeller may be dead. Suddenly the buzzards seem to be spooked by something and Travis hears Old Yeller’s weak barking sounds. Travis gets to the dog and sees his eye shining crazily but then when the dog recognizes his owner he calms down. Travis and Mama examine Old Yeller’s wounds without allowing a very scared Little Arliss to see that he is hurt; Mama sends him off to catch a lizard to distract him. Mama uses a hair from Jumper’s tail to sew up Old Yeller’s stomach and they place him gently on the cowhide, wrapped in clean rags. On the way home, Mama tells Little Arliss to hold onto Old Yeller on the cowhide, pretending that he is sick and needs to be cared for. The dog whimpers in pain on the way home and Travis’ leg swells but eventually they all make it. Travis is happy to have brought Old Yeller home alive and is amazed that the dog is in good enough spirits to lick Little Arliss’ face.
It is a few weeks that Travis and Old Yeller are laid up, and both of them are in incredible pain and suffering from fevers. Mama mixes up several antidotes for Travis and tries to feed him and Old Yeller whenever they will eat. Mama ends up taking over all of the chores with Travis laid-up and Little Arliss is not much help to her because he is so young and gets bored easily. Bud Searcy comes by one day with Lisbeth and a puppy. Lisbeth asks Travis how he is feeling and, wanting to sound tough, Travis tells her that he is doing alright. Lisbeth tells Travis she has a surprise for him, and she presents him with a speckled puppy. Travis seems to hurt Lisbeth’s feelings when he tells her that the puppy will be perfect for Little Arliss, because she leaves him alone afterward. Travis feels bad he just believes he already has a dog and once Old Yeller is better they will not want to wait around for a puppy to keep up with them; the puppy would be better for Little Arliss because it would entertain him. Lisbeth gives the puppy to Little Arliss, and Travis sees her look in at him as she and Bud Searcy are leaving. Bud Searcy then tells Mama that since her husband is gone and Travis cannot help with chores he will leave Lisbeth to help out. Mama wonders if the little girl will be of much help, but Bud Searcy assures her that Lisbeth is very tough and willing to help out. As he leaves he tells Lisbeth to behave herself.
Travis and Mama both believe that Lisbeth is too little to help out much around the house, but she proves the two of them wrong. Lisbeth works hard at her chores without being asked and is always looking for more ways to help out. Lisbeth and Little Arliss both help Mama to gather corn and though gathering corn is not usually a job that Travis likes to do he finds that he wishes he could be outside helping them. Travis feels as though his pride is bruised when this little girl can come in and do all of his chores for him, but he takes some solace in knowing that she cannot mark the hogs or kill animals for meat. One day, Spot does not show up for her milking and when she returns in the morning Travis calls to Mama that she is back; Mama goes out to see Spot, but quickly yells and runs back into the house. Spot had turned on Mama and tried to attack her so Mama wonders if she ate a poisonous pea-vine and went crazy, but Travis thinks that she probably has hydrophobia. Everyone watches Spot carefully over the next few days while she walks around in circles and ignores her calf. The bull called Roany wanders into the yard also, acting just as strangely as Spot though seemingly weaker. Old Yeller knows the family is danger when he sees the bull, and he growls because the bull is heading toward Little Arliss and Lisbeth. Travis calls for Mama to get his gun, but Mama runs after the children instead. The bull tries to run for Mama but falls over, giving Travis the opportunity to shoot him.
Travis and Mama know that they must bring the dead roan bull somewhere to burn the body because being so close to the house it may contaminate the drinking water. However, they find that Jumper cannot drag the carcass, so they must gather wood to burn the body where it lies. The fire is huge but still takes two and a half days to completely burn the body; when wolves smell the meat they are drawn to the area but stay away from the fire and from Old Yeller, who is acting as a guard. Travis remembers that Bud Searcy’s brother contracted hydrophobia, and he wishes that Papa would return home soon. Mama tells Travis that he must kill Spot as well, and they will have to burn the heifer’s body to be sure that the other cows are not infected. Travis follows Spot until she is in a place where it will be safe to burn her body without the danger of lighting the woods on fire, and he kills her. Travis’ leg is in pain when he returns to Mama tells him to rest, and she and Lisbeth go out to gather wood and burn Spot’s carcass. Travis tells the reader that had he known what was going to happen next he would have tried harder to keep them at home that day. Travis falls asleep and when he wakes he see Little Arliss playing with the puppy though Mama and Lisbeth have still not returned; he realizes that it probably took a long time to gather wood. Travis knows that Papa should be coming home soon, and he wonders if Papa will be bringing him a horse. He mostly wants Papa to come home because of the hydrophobic plague.
As darkness begins to set in, Travis gets worried about Mama and Lisbeth, but he realizes that the task at hand may have taken a while and he cannot think of anything that would be a danger to them. Travis brings Little Arliss and the puppy inside, and they eat a couple bowls of cornmeal and milk together. When Travis is putting Little Arliss to bed, he hears dogs fighting outside and hears Mama yell for him to make a light and come outside with his gun. Travis makes a light out of bear grass and heads outside with his gun where he is horrified to see Old Yeller fighting with a large wolf which Mama says is mad. Travis does not want to fire at the wolf right away because he fears hitting Old Yeller, but when the wolf gets on top of the dog Travis gets his chance, and he shoots. The wolf is dead, and Old Yeller licks Travis’ hand; the two of them collapse onto the ground together, and Mama sits with them. Mama tells Travis that they stopped for water at Birdsong Creek and the wolf almost got her, but she hit it in the head with a stick and then Old Yeller kept it distracted while Mama and Lisbeth got away on Jumper. Mama tells Travis that they got lucky, but Old Yeller is not so lucky; Travis realizes that Mama is telling him that Old Yeller is probably going to be mad now, and he needs to be killed. Mama offers to do the job for Travis, but once he realizes that she is right, he reluctantly and sadly calls Old Yeller to him and then shoots him in the head.
Travis is so sad about Old Yeller that he cannot eat, sleep, or cry and feels empty inside. Travis spends a lot of time thinking about how Old Yeller helped his family and Mama tries to talk with Travis about it to make him feel better, but it does not work. Lisbeth reminds Travis that the puppy is part of Old Yeller, but Travis only thinks that the puppy has not helped to keep his family alive like Old Yeller did; he feels bad for shooting his dog when he did not even do anything to deserve it. Soon the rain comes, and the hydrophobic plague is washed away from the land. Papa comes home in the morning, thinner than he was when he left but happy to have money and a horse for Travis. Travis appreciates the horse, but Papa can tell something is wrong with him. Papa gets the story from Mama, and after dinner, he walks down to the creek with Travis and tells him that he knows about Old Yeller. He tells Travis that he did exactly the right thing, just as a grown man would do, and he is proud of him. Papa tells Travis to think about the good parts of each situation because if he dwells on the bad then all of life will be bad. Travis understands what his father is saying, but he is still sad. A week later, Travis hears Mama yelling at the puppy for stealing cornbread, Little Arliss crying because Mama hit the puppy, and Papa laughing at the whole situation; Travis feels a little better. When Travis returns from riding his horse he sees Little Arliss playing naked in the water with the puppy and Travis starts laughing uncontrollably. He decides that he will bring Little Arliss and the puppy squirrel hunting because if the puppy is going to act like Old Yeller he may as well be of use.
Vin is in her room, piles of paper all around her on the floor. She continues to sort through the pages, rearranging them as she rereads different parts. She even starts to take notes of some quotes that she wants to remember. OreSeur watches her, commenting that she should use the desk instead of the floor. Elend walks in, and he is amazed that she is researching. He is also impressed with her penmanship, based on the pretty letters in her notes. Elend takes Vin with him to meet the messenger that has come from his father’s army. Vin is shocked to find that this messenger is also the man that was following her, the watcher. The messenger’s name is Zane, and he acts like an ambassador. Later, Vin and OreSeur wait outside for Zane. The two Mistborn spar, jumping from one rooftop to another. Zane says that Vin is different from the rest. She shouldn’t allow herself to be used by them. Vin doesn’t know what he means. When Zane leaves, Vin is sure she wants to spar with him more.
Zane comes back to his camp, or his father’s camp. He has a guard summon is father to the strategy tent. While waiting, he gives one of the soldiers strategic positions of the forces in Luthadel. Straff comes in and Zane tells him about the day’s activities, including what was said between Zane and Elend. They talk over a cup of tea. Straff, being a tineye, burns tin and smells poison in the tea he’s drinking. He knows Zane is always trying to poison him. He defiantly drinks the tea anyway and dismisses Zane. After, Straff summons one of his mistresses, a woman named Amaranta, who prepares a concoction of medicines in a special tea for Straff. He drinks the new tea, hoping he’ll live again this time.
Sazed has traveled six weeks worth of distance in six days, using his metalminds from time to time. Whenever a metalmind runs out, he leaves it on the ground, trying to lessen the amount of weight he has to carry. He notices several pillars of smoke ahead, sure sign that there is an army or camp of some kind. He is surprised to see that the army camp is made up of koloss, a dark blue kind of monster barbarian, once controlled by the Lord Ruler. Sazed is found by a koloss patrol. They force him to come down from the tree he was hiding in and follow them into the camp. Sazed is surprised once again to see that the man controlling these koloss is Jastes Lekal, a one-time friend of Elend Venture. Jastes says that he plans to conquer Luthadel as his own. He ends up letting Sazed go, under the condition that Sazed tell Elend about what he has seen. Sazed leaves, feeling even more urgency about getting to Luthadel.
Elends meets with his advisors–Ham, Breeze, Dockson, and Vin. Tindwyl is there, too. They try to talk Elend out of this plan he has to go into his father’s camp and trick him into fighting Cett. They don’t think Elend can con someone like that, but Elend is insistent that he can manipulate his father any time he wants. Plus, Elend argues, he’ll have Vin with him, in case Straff tries to take his own son hostage. Vin, listening in to the conversation, discovers through bronze that Breeze is soothing Elend to make him more confident. After the meeting, Tindwyl chastises Elend for not acting more like a king. Kings cannot doubt themselves. They must always feel that they are the right man for the job and convince others of the same through sheer confidence. The discussion is interrupted when Elend gets word that Cett’s daughter has arrived in Luthadel, looking for Breeze.
Cetts daughter, Allrianne, has left her father’s camp and come to Luthadel to see Breeze, whom she affectionately calls Breezy. Breeze is completely embarrassed by this, but the rest of the group gets a good laugh at his expense. Allrianne says she hated staying in her father’s camp; she needs comforts only a city can bring, like fresh water and a bed. After Allrianne leaves to freshen up, the group decides it may be beneficial to keep her. It may prevent her father from attacking too soon.
Vin, hides, suspended in the mists, just above Keep Venture. She spies on Ham as he walks across a courtyard. As she follows him, as a predetermined time, OreSeur jumps from behind some boxes and howls, scaring Ham. Ham reacts by flaring pewter. This confirms to Vin that he is not the kandra imposter. Vin admits to Ham that she is out of atium, meaning she’ll die the next time she fights a Mistborn with atium. She wonders is there is a secret to killing someone with atium. Ham doesn’t think so, although there have been some theories about how to do so. It may be possible, for example, to surprise them somehow. After that, Vin has a heart-to-heart with OreSeur. They talk about the way kandra are often treated, beaten by their own masters. They spot someone approaching the keep’s walls. It turns out to be Sazed, who has returned with, as he puts it, “problems and troubles.
Sazed is telling the group in the kitchens late at night, what he saw in the Koloss camp. They are not happy to know that a third army is on its way to Luthadel. Sazed does not know how Lekal is controlling the creatures, but the group does know that 20,000 koloss could beat an army of at least four times that many humans, meaning there is nothing stopping them from reaching and taking Luthadel. Finally, Sazed also share his fear regarding the mist killing people. He thinks something was released when the Lord Ruler was killed, although he never personally saw the mist kill anyone. Cett’s daughter comes walking in, half disheveled, asking what’s going on. They dismiss her and the group breaks apart, everyone either going to bed or to some corner to thin. Vin takes OreSeur outside to patrol. Back in his room, Sazed meets Tindwyl, an old friend of his. She criticizes him for returning and having strange theories about the mist.
Vin is outside, thinking about the beating she hears to the north, just like the writer of the log book, the supposed Hero of Ages. Zane finds her, and again he tries to convince her to leave Elend and Luthadel, claiming that she is being used by them and that she can do much better on her own, free to do as she pleases. Vin insists that she is very happy doing what she is doing and that no one is forcing her to do anything.
Vin is woken by a quiet bark of warning from OreSeur. She reacts by jumping out of bed, reaching for a dagger, and downing a vile of metals. She does all this before she realizes that the person that was “sneaking up on her” is actually Tindwyl the Terriswoman. Tindwyl obligates her to go shopping with herself and Allrianne, something Vin knows she will detest. They take a carriage to the market, the three women and OreSeur, who everything still assumes is just an ordinary wolfhound, along with Spook, who is forced to go to carry the girls’ bags. Vin manages to find a dress that she likes, and Tindwyl arranges for the dress to be made special for a Mistborn. Meanwhile, a someone has identifies Vin and a large crowd has gathered outside the storefront. Vin reluctantly goes outside to talk to them. They obviously worship her, calling her the Heir to the Survivor–Kelsier. She tries to say something that will inspire hope, but she feels that she is really just lying to them. Meanwhile, Elend is at the wall when Straff’s men attack. The guards and archers on the wall are in a total panic, and they barely kill a few of the invading wave before it retreats to the Venture camp. This was a test, just to try out Luthadel’s defenses, it is explained to Elend. Straff is sending a message, just before Elend is supposed to go out to the camp and talk to his father.
Vin opens the box sent from the dress maker, happy to find that the new dress is very well designed for a Mistborn, allowing her to move and fight freely. It even has secret hiding places for her daggers and some vials of metal. OreSeur does not think going is a good idea, since Vin and Elend would be alone in Straff’s army camp. Vin knows she must go anyway. Elend and Vin ride into the camp. Over the meal, Elend tries to manipulate Straff, but the man seems to catch on too quickly. Then he sends Vin out of the tent, so they can talk alone, father and son.
Straff and Elend talk inside, and things don’t seem to be going very well for Elend. Straff says he’ll just have Elend killed and demand Luthadel to open the gates to him. Elend says that if he is killed, Vin will kill Straff. Vin is outside, listening. She begins to manipulate Straff’s emotions, making him feel afraid. Finally, she smoothes away everything–every emotion he has, leaving him feeling empty and dead inside. The trick works, and Elend and Vin get out of the camp safe. Meanwhile, Zane has a little chat with Vin outside the tent, telling her that she is nothing but a knife to Elend. After they are gone, Straff commands Zane to kill Vin. Back in Luthadel, Elend learns that the assembly has voted to remove him as king.
The group meets together to see what they’re going to do about the assembly’s vote. They try to figure out if the assembly already has someone else in mind to put on the thrown, or if they simple want to send a warning to Elend because he has been ignoring them of late. The discussion leads to an argument between Breeze and Ham, as always, and Vin gets a taste of kandra humor when OreSeur whispers that he could always eat one of them and solve the argument. Later, Elend gets another lesson from Tindwyl about how a proper kind should act.
At night, Vin and OreSeur have a talk. OreSeur doesn’t think it’s healthy for Vin to keep herself awake for long periods of time, burning pewter to stay strong. He also doesn’t like the way Vin treats Zane, who should be her enemy. In the middle of the conversation, Vin realizes that she’s figured out what the Deepness is.
Sazed is in his room, studying and transcribing the rubbings he found. He knows that these few pages of transcribed text could keep him busy for months or even years. Vin enters through his window and wants to talk to him about the deepness. Sazed talks about if the deepness is even real or if it’s just a made-up story, some propaganda spun by the Lord Ruler. Vin says she thinks it’s real and tells Sazed that she thinks it’s actually the mist itself. The log book and the rubbings don’t say the mist actually killed people but that people died because of the mist. That could be because a permenant mist that covered the ground would kill crops and live stalk, leaving people to die of starvation. Vin also tells Sazed about the mist spirit that has been following her.
The assembly gathers, and Elend gets an opportunity to explain what he has done with his father. He uses twenty minutes to tell of the situation with the two armies and how his meeting with Straff went. He tells them that he used Vin’s power to threaten Straff, a move that may protect the city for some time yet. Meanwhile, Vin tries to pay attention to Elend’s meeting. She sees Zane in the crowd, and he smiles at her. They then have nominations for who should run for king. Elend and Lord Penrod are nominated, and, lastly, Cett is nominated. The man reveals himself to be in the crowd.
Vin sits in her room, studying the stacks of papers she has there. OreSeur is there with her, and they talk about the religious beliefs of the kandra. They practically worship the Contract above all else, the agreement they have with their human masters. Meanwhile, Elend discovers that some of the wells in Luthadel are being poisoned by someone, probably one of the armies outside. Vin talks to Dockson, and in the conversation, she determines that he can’t be the spy. She and OreSeur turn their attentions toward a new option: Demoux, a captain of the guard.
Elend works to find a way to convince the assembly to name him king again, while Vin wants to tell him her theory about Demoux. Tindwyle gets upset with Sazed when she finds out that he helped write part of the laws Elend put into place a year ago. Vin leaves the group and finds Zane, who immediately attacks her. She thinks he wants to spar, like before, but the fight becomes aggressive and Vin must fight him to survive. Zane tells her that he was ordered to kill her and that this attack was a warning. There are also many refugees coming from the koloss army, on their way to seek refuge in Luthadel. After giving his two warnings, Zane leaves.
Vin tries on another custom-made dress. Tindwyl tells her that Elend has nearly learned as much as he can from her; he’ll now have to learn to be a good leader through experience. Elend prepares his armored escort and carriage to go and see Cett. Breeze decides not to go, since he and Cett have history, which would only make the situation worse. When Elend and Vin actually enter the keep Cett is staying in and talk to the man, they discover just how sincere he is. He doesn’t want his daughter back, trusting that Elend will take good care of her. Cett wants Elend to step down from the election for king, and in return he won’t have Elend killed when he is made king. They also talk about the fact that no atium was found in all of Luthadel. Finally, Cett dismisses the two.
Sazed wanders through warehouse full of refugees from the koloss attacks, trying to help and health where he can. Tindwyl comes in and talks to him. She wants to see what he’s found–the rubbings he’s been transcribing. Meanwhile, Breeze has been listening in on the conversation, soothing both people in a way that would make them more friendly to each other. He walks among the refugees, trying to sooth away bad emotions and make them feel better. Elend and Ham come in, and Elend wants to make sure all the people have the clothes they need. Later, Breeze goes into the keep and has a secret meeting with Clubs. Though they always seem to hate each other, they drink together and talk; they’ve struck up a strange companionship. Allrianne walks in and tries to steal Breeze away. Vin, watching from outside, discovers that Allrianne is a rioter, since she was rioting Breeze’s emotions. She and OreSeur then go to find Demoux, still certain that he is the kandra spy. They find him in a little meeting of the church of the Survivor. He can’t be a spy, Vin decides. Then who is?
Sazed and Tindwyl sit together in the study, pouring over the rubbings, searching their metalminds for any references to the deepness or Hero of Ages. It’s morning, meaning they’ve been at it all night long. Tindwyl knows the course of actions Sazed takes is different from what the keepers want, but she is willing to stay with him and study these things further. Meanwhile, Elend and Ham walk along the wall. Ham comments that Elend looks more kingly than ever. As they walk, Elend announces that he has an idea to help Luthadel’s situation.
Vin, Elend, and the rest of the crew arrive early for the day of the election for king. Before the voting begins, Vin, trying to figure out what Elend has up his sleeve, discovers that he has joined the church of the Savior, in an effort to curry votes from the skaa members of the assembly. Suddenly, a groups of allomancers attack Elend and Cett. Vin manages to fight off the men, getting badly hurt in the process. After the fighting, the vote is moved to a more secure location, and the assembly members each announce their vote. Surprisingly, Penrod, a nobleman from the assembly is chosen the new king. Elend hands over his crown and leaves.
Straff Venture is angry that Zane sent a group of his allomancers to their deaths while Vin still lives. Zane promises that he has a plan to take care of her. Meanwhile, Straff meets with Penrod, the new king of Luthadel. Penrod is planning to give Luthadel to Straff, opening the gates to him and handing over the kingship. Straff, on the other hand, doesn’t want to enter the city while Vin still lives. Later, Zane tells Straff that he has been poisoned again. Zane leaves, and Straff is forced to ride hard back into the camp so his mistress can make him another antidote tea.
Vin awakes to see that Elend is with her. He tells her that he is not king, and he reports that OreSeur, who was badly hurt in the fight, is currently digesting a new set of bones. Vin feels that Elend is now scared of her somehow because of the way she fought those allomancers. Vin goes back to sleep, and awakes to find Zane there. He accuses her, saying that she could have killed those attackers easily had she not been so distracted with protecting Elend and other innocents. Later, OreSeur visits Vin, in another dog’s body. They talk more about the Contract that binds all kandra. Vin uses brass and duralumin to push strongly on OreSeur’s emotions. Even though he at first does not react at all, with enough force, Vin hurts him very badly, and she felt like she were controlling him for a moment. She apologizes for hurting OreSeur, and he leaves to get some rest. Vin promise to never tell anyone what she’s discovered about kandra.
Sazed and Tindwyl continue to talk about the things they are learning. Something doesn’t make sense about the rubbings, written by Kwaan. It seems that Kwaan did not trust Alendi, but he also knew Alendi was a good man. But if Kwaan knew Alendi was good, why did he have his nephew, Rashek, to mislead or even kill Alendi? Elend comes in and asks for advice. After a discussion, he decides that being king isn’t about a title, but about doing something to help others. He returns to his closet and retrieves the white suite, the one made for a king.
Elend is hard at work, helping the people. He’s sending men out to dismantle the wooden parts of keeps and houses to use as firewood. The many refugees are cold and hungry, and he wants to help them. Someone comes with news that one of the gates under the river has been broken. That is how someone has been getting into the city and poisoning the wells. Also, other reports say that an Inquisitor is lurking about the city. Elend decides to go out and talk to Jastes, with the koloss army, himself. He rides out and meets Jastes, unable to make any kind of deal. On the way out, Elend manages to fight and kill one smaller koloss, earning the sword and pouch as his own. He looks into the pouch and discovers how Jastes is controlling the koloss. He’s paying them.
Vin sees Elend, now returned from his meet with the koloss army, inured and resting. Zanes comes and says that Cett was the one that planed the attack at the voting ceremony. Vin gets angry and decides to attack Cett. Zane and Vin attack the keep that Cett has been staying at in Luthadel. Together, they kill guards and hazekillers. Fueled by rage, Vin kills quickly, working her way to Cett’s room. She realizes that Zane is using atium, while she has none, and yet she’s killing just as easily as he is. They finally get to Cett’s room, where he is with his son. Vin fights them at first, but when she discovers that neither of them is an allomancer and that Cett doesn’t have a single allomancer with him, she leaves them behind, injured and scared.
The crew sees that Cett’s army is now leaving, a result of Vin’s attack on his keep the night before. Elend does not know why Vin attacked Cett like that. Some in the crew think she’s crazy, but Elend just sees her as determined. They also discover that the “coins” Jastes has been using to control the koloss are fake, wooden coins painted gold. Elend goes to find Vin, who is hiding in the city. He finds her with OreSeur’s help. She says she must leave Luthadel and go north, to Terris. Elend says he trust her to do the right thing. They have one large bead of atium, and Vin gives it to OreSeur to hold for her.
Sazed and Tindwyl compare notes, studying the rubbing and other references they’ve managed to find. Tindwyl admits that she doesn’t believe in these prophecies, her interest in them being purely academic. Sazed, on the other hand, thinks Vin might actually be the next Hero of the Ages. While they talk, they discover that someone–or something–has torn a piece from one of the transcription pages. Vin comes in, while they try to figure out at what point were they both gone or occupied to not have seen an intruder going through their things. Vin asks Sazed how she can know if she’s in love. They talk about trust. After Vin leaves, Elend comes in and starts asking similar questions. Elend thinks he and Vin are too different to make a couple, but Sazed says that, to him, they are more alike than they think. After Elend leaves, Sazed realizes that Luthadel is going to fall soon; he needs to get both Elend and Vin out of the city before that happens.
Sazed calls a meeting with the members of the crew: Dockson, Breeze, Ham, and Clubs. He doesn’t invite Elend, Vin, or Spook. They talk about how the city is sure to fall. Straff apparently is in no hurry to take Luthadel. Instead, he’ll back off and let the koloss attack the city first. The koloss will win and enter the city, pillaging as they go. Then, with the koloss weakened and tired from the fight, Venture will ride in like a hero and save the city, defeating the koloss and taking Luthadel for himself. Sazed says that Elend and Vin need to get out of the city before these things happen. He wants Spook and Tindwyl to go with them. The rest of the group will have to stay and fight and die. Meanwhile, Vin feels she must follow the drumming she hears all the time. In Straff’s camp, Zane is attacked by his father’s men. He defeats them, but spares his father. He leaves, saying that tonight he will take Vin with him and leave Luthadel. He tells Straff that he should wait for the koloss to attack and then take the city.
Vin is in her room with OreSeur when Zane visits. He wants her to come with him, but she says she can’t because she doesn’t want to leave Elend. When Zane sees that she won’t go, he attacks her. They fight. When Zane starts to burn atium, Vin asks OreSeur for the large bead, a bead Zan had given her before. OreSeur doesn’t respond to her command. Vin discovers that OreSeur is not OreSeur. He is TenSoon, Zane’s kandra. Of course! There was no other spy. The bones they found were TenSoon’s and he had killed OreSeur! Zane corners Vin, but Vin uses a massive soothing to take control of OreSeur/TenSoon and attack Zane from behind. She then cuts the bead of atium fro TenSoon. But this is another trick. The bead is lead, with only a thin layer of atium. Soon, Vin is left helpless against a Mistborn killer with atium. Vin decides that Zane can see what she’s about to do, or, rather, what she plans on doing. If she attacks without thinking, though, she can, see in Zane’s reaction what she is going to do, only to change it at the last possible second. The trick works, and Vin defeats Zane. After Zane dies, she thanks OreSeur/TenSoon for helping her win. His contract is void, and he must return to his people. Vin goes to find Elend.
Elend is in his study when Vin comes in, bloody from her fight with Zane. She tells him that she killed him. He calls for Sazed, who comes to help with the wounds. While she is there, on the ground, she asks Sazed if he knows any wedding ceremonies. Of course, he knows hundreds. Vin asks which one is the shortest, and Sazed recalls one that only requires a declaration of love between the bride and groom before an ordained witness. Vin and Elend both say that they love each other, and Sazed declares them married. The wounds are clean, and Sazed sends Vin to get some rest. He also gives them a fake map to find the Well of Ascension. If the couple follows the map, they’ll be gone from Luthadel for a long time.
Elend and Vin prepare to ride out of the city. Tindwyl decides to stay in Luthadel. Spooks gets ready to go, and Allrianne will ride out, at Breeze’s insistence. So the four of them ride out, Vin quickly having to fight pursuers from Straff’s army. Once they are free, Allrianne breaks off to find her father’s army. Meanwhile, some of the crew watch as the escape, now sure of their own coming doom. Straff Venture hears of the escapes, but he has problems of his own now. He’s getting sick, which he knows is the result of poisoning from his son, Zane. He sends for his mistress, Amaranta, to fix him an antidote, but he discovers that she isn’t preparing what she normally does. She is actually killing, as she has for a long time. There never was any poison. Zane never tried to kill his father. But Amaranta, in her constant fixing of teas for Straff, has been causing him to become addicted to a rare drug. Without that drug, Straff will die. Straff, in a rage, kills Amaranta and then swallows as much powder from her medicine cabnet as he can, hoping to accidentally swallow some of the drug he needs before he loses consciousness.
Allrianne has made her way to her father’s camp, with the help of some bandits she’s tamed with her rioting. Her father, Cett, is not happy to see her. She convinces him to go back and join the winning party in the battle that is to come, although Cett promises that will likely be Straff. Meanwhile, Elend wakes up on the third morning out of Luthadel. He and Vin share a tent now, and he finds himself surprisingly comfortable on the hard ground, with Vin next to him. They get up and prepare the fire. It’s just the three of them: Elend, Vin, and Spook. Meanwhile Straff wakes up in bed. His men have taken care of him, and they’ve isolated the plant he needs to stay alive. When he hears that Vin and Elend have left the city, the men ask if they should attack now. Straff says no; they should pull back and wait for the koloss. Sazed meets with the others to plan a strategy for when the koloss attack. They plan to have a group of men at each gate. Saze and Tindwyl get a little time together, but then the warning drums begin to beat.
Vin is thinking about how the mist is staying later and later every day, instead of just disappearing with dawn, when she feels the pulsing of the mist spirit coming from Elend’s tent. She runs in, just in time to see the outline of that spirit lift some kind of knife to attack Elend, who is sleeping on the ground. She attacks the spirit and it disappears. Elend wakes up and never knows what was happening. She leaves Elend to sleep a little more and goes out to speak with Spook. He thinks someone is following them. Meanwhile, Sazed and the crew get ready, since it looks like the Koloss are about to attack. Men are at each gate, with one crewmember there to help. Straff sees that the koloss are attacking, but he tells his men to wait. Vin and Elend attack the camp of people that have been following them. It turns out to be Jastes. He’s lost control of the koloss, so he just left them. Elend kills Jastes because of his crimes against Luthadel. Vin discovers that the drumming sounds are getting softer, meaning the well is to the south, in Luthadel, and not in the Terris mountains.
Breeze works at his assigned gate, soothing soldiers by the dozen, helping them to be brave and fight well. The koloss pound at the door, while men atop the wall rain arrows down on the attackers. The koloss throw rocks up in return, smashing archers. Meanwhile, Vin runs towards Luthadel, burning pewter. She knows she will run out of pewter long before reaching Luthadel, and she wonders if the effect will kill her. But still she keeps running. Breeze and Clubs talk while the koloss continue to beat the gate. They blame themselves for being stupid enough to be in this mess, and they blame Kelsier for getting them into such responsibilities. Just then, the gates burst open. Meanwhile, Sazed gets word that Breeze’s gate had fallen. He doesn’t think he can really help. He notices that there is a crowd of skaa standing behind the defense force. When Sazed confronts them, telling them that they should flee to safety inside the city, the skaa answer that they are there to witness the fall of the koloss at the hands of Vin, who they are sure will return and make her appearance at Sazed’s gate. Then the gate breaks. Sazed musters his stored strength, growing in size, and faces the lead koloss, shouting for the men to fight. Vin, half collapsing and out of pewter, reaching a small village. At first she thinks to ask for pewter, but then she remembers how she used to travel with Kelsier on a path of metal bars in the ground. She asks for horseshoes, using them to “walk” by leaping, placing horseshoes ahead of her and pulling the ones behind to place further. In this way, she uses the horseshoes like stilts to help her travel in the air.
Outside Luthadel, Straff Venture sees that the koloss have now broken into the city gates. His men are ready to attack the koloss from the rear, but Straff decides to wait longer. Sazed, fighting the koloss, realizes that they need to get the gate closed again in order to survive. Using strength and weight, he manages to fight off the koloss and get the gate closed again. While getting a little break, a messenger comes and says that Tindwyl’s gate fell over an hour ago. Meanwhile, Clubs and Breeze are attacked and forced to run. Clubs is killed, while Breeze hides in a building. Dockson contemplates the root of their failure. He attacks a koloss, only to be cut down. Straff decides not to swoop in a save the city while the koloss are weak. Instead, he’d rather wait for the koloss to kill everyone and burn the city. Then Straff will move in. Meanwhile, Sazed fights on, wondering what happened to Tindwyl. He feels he is going to die, but then Vin arrives and starts killing koloss. Breeze is found by Ham and some others. They want to try to escape.
Vin continues killing koloss, several at a time. Sazed, outside Lord Penrod’s keep, begs the newly appointed king to go with them as they try to escape. Penrod insists on staying inside his keep. Vin continues to fight the koloss, but now she is almost completely out of pewter, steel, and almost every other metal. In desperation, to save some skaa from certain death, she super-soothes them, like she’d done to TenSoon, controlling the koloss with her mind. Sazed is standing outside Penrod’s keep when Vin walks up with koloss in tow. She orders Penrod to gather his men and put out the fires in Luthadel. Vin will take care of the koloss throughout the city. Later, Sazed finds Tindwyl’s dead body among the slain soldiers. He feels that all the faith, all the religions, he has always treasured is now useless. His life, he believes, has been a sham.
Straff wakes up and takes a sample of the drug he needs to stay alive. He gathers his men, expecting to be able to take the city now. But the koloss come out with the remaining soldiers of Luthadel. Vin jumps from among the koloss, sailing through the sky with a giant sword, cleaving Straff and his horse in half on impact. Allrianne watches these events from her father’s camp. She charges after them to help Luthadel’s army, forcing her father and his men to ride after her. Straff’s army surrenders, and Janarle, Straff’s general, is named the new Lord of the Venture army. Janarle, Penrod, and Cett all swear loyalty to Elend as their Emperor. Vin, needing rest, leaves Sazed in charge of the Empire until Elend can return to Luthadel.