“He read the verses backwards but then they were not poetry. Then he read the flyleaf from the bottom to the top till he came to his own name. That was he: and he read down the page again. What was after the universe? Nothing.”
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
In this moment the character begins to feel overwhelmed by the deeper thoughts he is having. It’s the first time in the novel we as the reader get to see a deeper level of thought from the narrator. Before this point we’ve gotten child like descriptions and simple musings when he is confused by things happening to him and around him. It shows a moment of growth within the character, even though it’s still early in the story.