Color Contradiction Meets Culture Clash

By , River Forest, IL
In the novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man written by James Joyce, Joyce uses contrasting colors to teach the reader of both the political and religious battles of that time period which form Stephen’s struggles. Joyce influences Stephen by using the colors red and green as representatives of England and Ireland. Joyce is able to teach Stephen of such things by camouflaging the lessons in Stephen’s life.



The first juxtaposition of green and red was when Stephen was thinking to himself “O, the wild rose blossoms on the little green place.”(3) The significant of this thought was the rose blossoms represented England and “the green place” was Ireland. Joyce also describes England as a “wild rose” because compared to Ireland’s religious views England had a very modern and considerably sinful lifestyle. The purpose of putting a “wild rose” in traditional Ireland is because the time period was a civil war of opinions based off of political and religious views. This situation was caused after Parnell Ireland’s political leader had an affair with his wife forcing the religious Ireland to disown him while the political England views were still very accepting of him. The concept of the riddle as a whole was England is beginning to join with Ireland, and more specifically they are beginning to combine similar views. The next comparison of colors was the scene on the playground where the students are split up into the red and green teams. The idea that was being portrayed was of a war. Making it possible for both Stephen and the reader to visualize the fighting of both sides. Also Joyce explains that Stephen is only pretending to play giving the idea that he is a neutral being and won’t actually fight for one side. The neutral representation of Stephen is portrayed in such away to show how he has yet developed an opinion on the situation, giving the reader an undeveloped opinion as well.



Dante his aunt then is used to show her strong political views. The author had mentioned before that she had two make up pallets one red and one green, both labeled after political figures, except in this instance her views have changed. “Dante had ripped the green velvet back off the brush that was for Parnell one day with her scissors and had told him that Parnell was a bad man.” Dante had done this because she was a heavy Irish Catholic woman who viewed Parnell as a terrible sinner. Dante was very religious as many Irish citizens were. But the significant in the action was Dante was cutting off the green meaning she was cutting off Parnell of Ireland. By saying Parnell is a “bad man” to Stephen she is immediately affecting his own opinion by telling a young boy that the leader is bad. She has influenced his opinion before he could even understand the situation. This also was the same for the reader because at this point in the novel the Parnell dilemma had not been mentioned making the reader as influenced as Stephen.
After seeing Dante’s response Stephen is forced to see the argument between his families on their political positions. Joyce placed this family feud at a Christmas dinner because red and green represent Christmas and Joyce uses them to represent England V. Ireland. The entirely intentional setting is where again a fight is represented. The author uses Dante against Parnell and practically the rest of the family for Parnell. And once again Stephen isn’t taking part playing a neutral member giving the reader a un-biest look at the scene. Dante is then described, “she was red in the face.” This quotation was used to show her anger and to show her physically turning to the red or English side. Also Dante at the end of the dinner gets up and storms out which was used to show how religious views were physically separating themselves from the political views. This also set a very confused view for the readers tarring them between the two family sides.



James Joyce purposely uses all his color combinations as representations of the different views between the characters and ties them to more of a worldly view. He completely uses all the political, and religious and cultural examples to teach reader and to show the beginning of Stephen’s confusions and struggles. Joyce is able to do so by using red and green to represent of fight of beliefs. Joyce purposely uses a dinner scene to make is relative to the reader enhancing the visual aspects. James Joyce is able to beautifully teach his readers about political and religious views in the Parnell conflict.





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