A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“It was cruel and unfair to make him kneel in the middle of the class then: and Father Arnall had told them both that they might return to their places without making any difference between them. He listened to Father Arnall’s low and gentle voice as he corrected the themes. Perhaps he was sorry now and wanted to be decent. But it was cruel and unfair. The prefect of studies was a priest but that was cruel and unfair. And his whitegrey face and the nocoloured eyes behind the steelrimmed spectacles were cruel looking because he had steadied the hand first with his firm soft fingers and that was to hit it better and louder.”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 43.

This is the first time Stephen’s opinion of the church and priesthood in general began to reflect his father’s almost. He seems conflicted because of his high thoughts of priests and the church, and yet he was cruelly and wrongly punished by a priest himself. And then Father Arnall was being decent to the other students?