DragonBall Z

DragonBall Z
This is the Dragon... Dragonball Z. An anime show highlighting some of the best that human imagination has to offer.

Who are you?!

  • I like directing, editing and watching movies.
  • I like to play Call of Duty 4.
  • I like to play Rainbow Six Vegas 2
  • I LOVE going to Mr. G's class everyday.
  • There is no place like my real home.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My Filler Chapter for Borderliners

F I L L E R C H A P T E R (8-9)

She then went on to explain something to me but I did not pay attention. We sat in that storage shed, and we talked, talked about what it was when we were children in Copenhagen. She asked me what it was like not knowing who my parents were why they had left me and about not knowing what it felt liked to be loved or taken cared of. She began this interrogation that last through the night. August had fallen asleep a long time hours ago and me and Katarina had been speaking for only a few minutes. These minutes felt like an eternity. It was like time had stopped to listen to mine and Katarina’s conversation about our lives as we were finally alone and out of the grip of the academy. Time had stopped.

I began to speak but I did not pay attention to what I was saying. I spoke but without reason. Katarina just sat there and listened to me while her eyes seemed to scan my face and all of its contours and ridges of skin. Throughout our whole conversation, she sat still and only stared at me. I stared back and blocked out everything else so that I could marvel at her beauty. After she kissed me, my life had changed and I forgot about the school and all of the rules and regulations. We were two souls that had separated from the real world, only for moments; enough moments to talk about our whole lives and stare into each others’ souls.
But then she said to me, “Peter, was that your first kiss?” I proceeded to tell her that it was my first kiss and that it was unexpected but desired. Katarina had proposed a kind of spiritual marriage to me and with our kiss, there was acceptance and we were sealed together forever. Our kiss was a point in time that was unable to be revisited and I would never feel that feeling again. Katarina then asked me “Do you like the watch?” I told her that I did but that I did not know what it was for. I asked her why she gave it to me and she proceeded to stare, so I did not question her further. We kissed for a while and then she fell asleep on my shoulder.
Then I looked over at August, almost as though I was staring at child. He had picked a spot in the storage shed with some cardboard boxes and fell asleep on top of them. While Katarina and I spoke left and ventured into our own world, August had ventured into his own. He was twitching and was having a bad dream, one that did not seem to end because once he woke up, we would have to walk back out into the freezing winter of Denmark and trek through the snow along the path back to the school.

The next morning we woke up to the sound of scraping on the walls of the shed. August had sprung and the cardboard boxes gave in to his weight. Katarina and I had sprung to our feet and I ran over to the window. I looked through and saw that it was only a gentle deer scraping it little horns on the wall of the shed. Perhaps it had an itch that needed to be scratched.
We got up and decided it was time to go back to school at dawn while the school and its faculty were beginning to assemble through the archway. I closed the door, locked the lock and we left the shed behind. As we walked through the snow, I looked back only to realize the significant role our little shed was going to play in our escape. I fell in love with Katarina during the night we spent together and August seemed oblivious to that result. We had scaled a level in our relationship that was kept at bay while in school. I now loved Katarina and I know she loved me. While walking, I was behind her, she was behind August, and not once did she turn around to speak to me. Not once to speak of the night before or of our plan to escape and take August with us.

Time resumed at dawn and went back to its routine. Time had stopped for me and it was a powerful feeling when I kissed Katarina. I will never forget when she asked me if I loved her and when I did not answer.

Adoration of the Kings (Poem explication on Blog)

The Adoration of the Kings
In the poem, Adoration of the Kings by William Carlos Williams, the speaker depicts the scene of the Christian nativity as seen through the eyes of the painter, Pieter Bruegel. The poem’s language favors the depiction of the Kings over Jesus and his birth. Williams makes a reference to the “Italian masters” (10) or the renaissance painters who may have better illustrated the scene. The painting by Brueghel shows the Three Kings “in their stolen / splendor” (4-5) and the offering of their gifts to the newborn Jesus and his mother, Mary. The attention of the poem is focused on the Three Kings and what they have brought to the painting when attention should be focused on the birth of the savior, Jesus. This conflict is evident in the title of the painting itself. Bruegel’s purpose in his painting is explained through reading of the poem when Williams makes a reference to Bruegel being asked to do something but does not.
The title Adoration of the Kings foreshadows the speaker’s intent and where the poem will head in its language. The title conveys a sense of liking and worship towards the Three Kings rather than Jesus or Mary because they are not mentioned. The Kings are adored by the people in the painting surrounding Jesus and Mary. The eyes of the onlookers seem to wander more towards the gifts and the garments of the Three Kings. The kings have stolen the light from the monumental birth of Jesus and Williams chooses to elaborate on that in the poem.
The speaker begins with “From the Nativity / which I have already celebrated” (1-2), conveying the fact that William Carlos Williams may have been Christian who celebrated the birth of Jesus. An inference can be made that Williams has seen many depictions of the Nativity but finds Bruegel’s depiction special because it focuses on the grandeur of the Kings rather than on Jesus though most other Nativity scenes do the opposite. This focus on the Kings is evident when the speaker says “Joseph and the soldiery // attendant / with their incredulous faces / make a scene” (6 – 9) because they are gawking at the riches rather than Jesus. Williams uses what he notices right away after first looking at the painting in the beginning of his poem to establish this point of adoration towards the Kings and begins on why Bruegel chose to paint the picture the way he did.
Bruegel painted Adoration of the Kings “with a difference” (11) from the “Italian masters” (10) or renaissance painters who were known to depict scenes of Christianity with beauty and sometimes sarcasm. Williams makes this known when he writes “the alert mind dissatisfied with / what it is asked to / and cannot do” (16 – 18) showing that Bruegel does not choose to follow the standard that was set for him by the renaissance painters and their typical depictions of the Nativity. Williams’ use of many words and his choice for the placing of line breaks helps the reader infer that Bruegel was compelled to paint according to how the renaissance painters did. But Bruegel “cannot do” (18) it and so the Adoration of the Kings is a very different scene than any of the other Nativity scenes. Instead, Bruegel chooses to paint with a different kind of reality; the reality of the people staring at the Kings and not at Jesus; the reality of the people coming from far away to catch a glimpse of the gold worn by the rich. Williams’ accepts Bruegel’s view on the Nativity because it highlights the negative view on hoarding materialism found in his many socialist ideas.
The poem ends with a general feeling of acceptance as the speaker goes on to describe the painting “as a work of art / for profound worship” (23 -24). The use of many adjectives such as “brilliant” (20), “downcast” (22), and “profound” (24) all help to convey that sense of acceptance. The speaker’s language compliments Bruegel’s painting and what it is depicting as Williams switches from the painter’s purpose back to his view on the poem. In Adoration of the Kings, William Carlos Williams succeeds at exposing the overwhelming adoration for the Three Kings when the adoration should be felt for the baby, Jesus and his mother, Mary. Through the speaker’s use of suggestive language and the strategic placement of line breaks one feels as though Bruegel paints with individuality and goes against the accepted standard set by the “Italian masters” (10). The ending to Williams’ poem depicts his happiness and excitement in the ideas suggested by the painting almost as though he applauds the degrading of materialism accepts the reality presented of the Three Kings and their lavish prowess.

A Stranger Blog from September! (Look at the difference)

On the third day of the class discussions, Taquan was able to elaborate for us the symbolism and reasoning for the use of the sun in Albert Camus’ The Stranger. He told us how in Greek Mythology, the sun reveals all and is power over everything. It is the eye in the sky and watches over everything. In The Stranger, the sun also causes Muersalt to unleash his weapon and take five shots at the Arab on the beach. The sun was the driving force behind a lot of the plot in the book.
There was also mention in our class discussion of Muersalt going against the society. Emily T, Meagan and I all realized Muersalt has no feeling inside. He was labeled “inhumane” in class. Albert Camus was an existentialist and happened to touch a lot on the theme of absurdity in The Stranger. The definition for absurd is 1. Utterly or obviously senseless, illogical, or untrue; contrary to all reason or common sense; laughably foolish or false: an absurd explanation 2. the quality or condition of existing in a meaningless and irrational world. He was greatly influenced by other existentialists Jean-Paul Sartre and Martin Heidegger. The reasons we think of Muersalt as an inhumane and emotionless person is because his way of thinking is without logic and senseless which is contrary to our reasoning. Muersalt’s aura of absurdity is evident in the quote, “I drank the coffee. Then I felt like having a smoke. But I hesitated, because I didn’t know if I could do I with Maman right there. I thought about it; it didn’t matter. I offered the caretaker a cigarette and we smoked.” (p 8) Albert Camus. This strikes me as being rude and kind of unnecessary when one is present at a funeral but Muersalt feels it is just fine.
Albert Camus’ great idea of the world as being meaningless is shown through Muersalt’s behavior. He is a character that is enigmatic and strange to the reader. To Muersalt, there is no point in certain things such as a punishment of death for killing another person because we are all supposed to die sooner or later. Albert Camus’ purpose for the sun was to show that there is a higher power in the world that is regulating his life and guiding him to his pre-determined fate which Meursalt believes he controls. But he does not control the thoughts of the judge or of the jury. When read the death sentence conviction, Muersalt feels nothing and accepts the fact that he is going to die just as he accepted everything else in his life.

Book Cover Essay for Borderliners

Book Cover
The book cover that I have chosen to create is the best choice for Borderliners because it collectively displays all of the critical themes prevalent in the story. The title is neatly written across the top of the front cover and the author’s full name is legible on the bottom of the book cover. In the center of the cover is a big ball of energy that represents time. I have drawn it as a large mass of energy swirling around locked with a key. The school is at the top left hand corner of the mass of time. Below the title are two clocks showing that time is all around us. In the lower right hand of the cover there is a blade representing time cutting across the universe in its course towards infinity. And in the lower left corner of the cover there are the three main characters of the book, Peter Katarina, and August standing in the blackness surrounded by nothing. The blue of the background is representing the sky because of its infinite, endless look. The great of mass of time is appropriately situated in the center of the blue because it keeps on regardless of the human race.
I chose to draw the mass of time in the center of the book cover because time is a dominant theme in the story and I felt that it was very important. I wanted to answer the question that was asked in the very first sentence of the book, “What is time?” (3). I tried to create time in my head and what was drawn on the cover is the closest I could come to the picture imagined. There is energy swirling in the ball of time and it is bright, almost a beacon in the blue infiniteness. There is light shining from the mass of time and it is almost godlike because in the book, time controls the universe. Its control is used in the school to regulate the day and to split up the classes. The school bell tower is drawn above the ball of time to symbolize the school’s use of the entity. The “time at Biehl’s academy was absolutely linear,” (225). The school used time to regulate itself and that is why there is a lock across time. The lock is opened by the master key of the school that Peter made a copy of in the book in order to gain entry into headmaster Biehl’s office.
The children of the book are drawn on the cover because they were the main characters. I wanted to include the main characters in my cover; unlike the present cover which is solely a picture of a key and on an orange and black background. The children are looking up at the mass of time and marveling at its beauty. Time in the book controls life like a God. They are looking up at the mass of time as if they were worshipping a God.
Moving to the right of the children there is a blade that is cutting along a line that represents the borderline that the children are on in the school. It can also be interpreted as linear time which is infinite and goes on forever in both directions. “Linear time has to be envisaged as a huge, endless knife blade scraping its way across the universe, and drawing it along with it.” (221). This is where the idea of the blade comes from and why it is leaving a black trail behind it which represents the past while it cuts across the borderline.

Ghetto Nation Blog entry from November!

Hey Christina I can definitely relate to your experience on many levels because I have been the unfortunate target of many Spanish stereotypes and nobody helps out. You just have to keep opening your mouth and someday you will be surrounded by people who will back you up. The kid that said the joke thought it was harmless and wanted to make people laugh but it shows his lack of self-esteem. Just remember that next time you are near or the target of such ridicule; they are only words and they convey the speaker’s self-loathing. Cora Daniels is careful enough in her wording of Ghetto Nation making sure that she does not limit ghetto to any race or nationalities or even mention any sort of stereotype. There are actual surprising contrasts that help disprove stereotypes. I know that I was shocked when I read that one fourth of all non-Hispanic white births are to single white women, meaning that a lot of babies are going to be born missing a very important father figure in their lives. Back when I was in Melrose I actually had the stereotype that white people didn’t have to deal with those problems. Ghetto Nation has shattered a lot of stereotypes for me and it has also been humorous all the while. One idea that Ghetto Nation has solidified my belief in is that “ghettoitis” has no color or race and that ghetto comes in fat wallet sizes too. I never thought that ghetto could be used to describe the crazy relationships of Hollywood and all of its stars that go out late at night drinking their riches away. Ghetto. But, the majority of America does not see it as ghetto because the stars don’t go out in public and scream “I’m broke as a mofo!!!!” If they did, the paparazzi would be all over them in seconds. Cora Daniels tells us that ghetto is found in all levels of society. I was able to witness this idea when I was returning home from my dentist appointment in Stoneham late in the afternoon. My father and I had chosen to stop along the way back to Malden in Melrose for some pizza so that we could turn our cleaned teeth dirty and fill up our fat stomachs. Just for some background; Melrose and Malden though they are neighbors are two completely different worlds. Melrose residents are a little more affluent while the demographics of Malden can be seen as “struggling money-wise”. My father was ordering and I sat in one of the stalls awaiting a calzone and a meatball sub. A man walked in the small pizza joint and asked for half of a pizza. (It seems that the owner and I have never heard of this in our lives …) This man was white almost Italian looking, with dark colored parted hair, wearing a pair of tight Levi’s, a fitted worn-out forest green leather jacket, and a pair of yellow wood stained work gloves. My father happened to step out of the shop for a smoke on a cigarette and the man decided to start up some small conversation with the owner behind the counter. The man got on the tip of his toes so as to get a good look behind the counter and said, “What is that, a big block of cheese?!” The owner behind the register solemnly replied, “Yup, a hundred pounds.” So the Italian man said “DAAAAAAYYYYYAAAAAMMMMMMMNNNNNNNN!!!!” (And yes he said it in a pretty loud voice just like in the movie FRIDAY) Immediately, I began to laugh to myself and thankfully my father came in after the conversation between the owner and the customer had finished because my father would have joined in and embarrassed me. I laughed because I saw this man as he walked into the shop and take off his gloves. Never did I think that he was even going to say that as an exclamation. Maybe that is just me and my stereotypes that I have. But it solidifies Cora Daniels statement that Ghetto is found everywhere. This man, who looked like he was in his forties or maybe early thirties, chose to be hip and in the groove with things by saying “DAAAAAAYYYYYAAAAAMMMMMMMNNNNNNNN!!!” instead of a simple “wow,” which is what my stereotypical mind anticipated him to say. Ghetto Nation helps to do away with many stereotypes that I have about all kinds of things. It sheds light on problems that we face on a daily basis like what Christina had to go through. The stereotypes spoken of in ghetto nation can connected to the degrading of women in music videos and there always people who disagree but don’t open their mouths about it while others choose to stand up and say, “That’s not funny and it is wrong.”

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hamet's Soliloquy Act III Scene I

Act 3:1

In Kenneth Branagh’s rendition of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy from Act 3:1, the actor puts on a show that evokes emotion and feeling much like the player did for Hamlet earlier in the play. This third video is different from all of the other video because it most accurately portrays the actual play and the setting that the tone Shakespeare creates. Hamlet is in the palace in Denmark standing alone in front of a mirror which is fitting for this speech because a mirror allows him to speak alone and still get the impression that one is being listened to. Some of the most recognized words in the history of the English language are found at the beginning of this soliloquy in the play when Hamlet asks himself the question – “To be, or not to be, that is the question,” (III i 55). The King and Polonius spy as Hamlet ponders the pros and cons of continuing on in a life filled with trials and tribulations.

In the beginning of the video there is a long shot with the actor’s head and feet. He is the only one in the mirror able to seen. Slowly, as the lines go on, actor moves closer and closer as the camera follows. Eventually, the long shot is changed into an extreme close-up shot where only Hamlet can be seen. Because it is an extreme close-up the actor is isolated and alone. There is no one else in the shot, no one else to feel the pain and torment that the actor does. Close-ups are to alienate and show confusion or loneliness. Hamlet is confused and maybe fighting within himself as to whether or not he wants to continue this battle to find the answers.

His first line “To be, or not to be, that is the question,” (III i 55) has Hamlet questioning his existence; “whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer/ the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” (III i 56). The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune are his father’s death and the marriage between his mother Gertrude and his Uncle Claudius. Or should he endure the pain and “take arms against a sea of troubles,” (III i 58) surviving long enough to fulfill the prmise made to his father’s ghost? Death is sleep and an eternal says Hamlet. Those that sleep do not have to deal with people higher than them disrespecting them and treating them like nothing, “For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,” (III i 69). “And by a sleep to say we end/ the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks/ that flesh is heir to; ‘tis a consummation,” (III I 60-62) refers to Hamlet ending his life and coincidentally, he just happens to be carrying around a dagger with him. It was commonplace to carry around a weapon in those times merely for self-defense.

In the video while, the dagger is out, Hamlet says his lines and holds the dagger to the mirror. The shot is created in a way that it looks like Hamlet inches closer and closer to his throat with the knife but each time pulls it away creating the idea that he is toying with himself, or testing himself; trying to create the illusion that he can take his life right now if he wants to. When the dagger is unsheathed, there is a jump cut to King Claudius and the expression on his face is one of surprise. He could be surprised that Hamlet is about to kill himself or that Hamlet is carrying around a dagger on himself. King Claudius reaction could be surprise in that he is shocked to learn that Hamlet has gone insane and Hamlet’s life may be threatened by it.

The actual colors chosen for the setting are relevant to the tone as well because white and black as a mix represent the mind and the floor in the mirror has a box pattern of white and black boxes. There set surrounding Hamlet shrouds him and closes him off from the rest of the world. He is alone in the hall (or so he thinks that he is) and let’s his thoughts flow.

The score in the background is found or fitting to the tone of the soliloquy because it is not profound or in the middle of the speech. The score adds to the mood and its eeriness. There are chants or wails from a violin at appropriate times throughout the soliloquy. The most fitting of the soliloquy was at the pulling of the dagger.

Near the middle of his soliloquy, Hamlet rationalizes that death is not the answer and that the dreams found in the afterlife may be ones that are no different from the ones found in this world. Death is unknown to Hamlet and to all man, “But, there the dread of something after death,/ the undiscovered country, from whose bourn,/ no traveler returns, puzzles the will,” (III i 77-79). In the end of his speech he concludes that this question does not have an answer and he is interrupted by the coming of Ophelia. She is greeted by Hamlet under his breath and makes her to be an angel with his line, “Be all my sins remembered,” (III i 88).

Kenneth Branagh’s rendition of Hamlet is the best out of all of the Hamlet videos because the Hamlet chosen is believable and overall setting fits the description and the tone from the play. The cinematography, lighting, and colors chosen for the set design add the mood and help to elaborate one of the most studied and recognized soliloquies of all time.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Movies and Hispanics

Movies are adventures. I love to watch imagination become reality and the “good guy” comes out on top against the “bad guys”. When directing a film, you control the actors, you control the angles, and you control the movie. I control my life, but not like I would a movie, and it’s hard sometimes because I know things can be better.

I want to make films when I get older. I want to make people think about things and put smiles on people’s face. I always tell my friends that a movie about my life would be a bestseller at the movie box office. I would call it “Mi Lucha”. It would be a movie filled with all of life’s lessons and the hardships faced by a Puerto Rican kid growing up in Boston in a one bedroom apartment with two sisters, one who is also a teenage mother. In the end, this Puerto Rican still finds a way to the top and changes his world for the better.

I was raised under strict Puerto Rican and authoritarian, parents; I have been forced to strive for perfection. I have been taught to take advantage of my opportunities and to snatch them out of the air for myself so that I can provide for the people I love. I‘ve promised my mother a life that she has never had since I was five years old. She has provided for me and my two sisters since we were born and I intend to keep my promise to her.

Maybe my big money making movie will be a documentary on life in Puerto Rico where the reported homicide rates are higher than those found in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Living on the island my freshman year of high school makes me want to go back and change things for the better. It is time to shed light on the situation. Puerto Rico is struggling, with high school dropout rates setting nationwide records, horrible public schools that are falling apart, and an absence of afterschool programs. I want to change the island’s course toward disaster and create a better place to live because it is my real home.

I want to go back to Puerto Rico to find a job and settle down with a family. With a degree, I could provide for my family and hopefully shape the change the community around me for the better. I would direct films that answer the questions that people may not want answered so that problems can be fixed.

Living in Puerto Rico changed my life. I came out responsible and mature. I had to live a year without my father living in the house and I grew up fast. Now that I have moved back to the states, I have been more independent and I have grown into a mature adult. I like to challenge myself and pursue the things that I am passionate about. I love making movies and hopefully I will make movies that will change the world.

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

Pieter Bruegel’s painting, Landscape with the fall of Icarus, depicts the scene in the myth where Icarus has fallen into the sea after his wings have melted. The painting has all of the aspects f life going on at that time the myth took place. There is a farmer plowing his fields in the foreground and a large trading settlement in the background along with snow covered mountains to the west across the vast harbor leading to the sea in the center of the painting. I am guessing that this is Minos. There is also a small rock island in the middle of the harbor with a sole opening that probably leads to a cave or an underground labyrinth. If one does not have a keen eye, you may overlook the shepherd tending to his flock, looking up at the sky and wondering why he cannot just fly away like the seagulls above the water. The other fine point of the painting that one may easily overlook is the feet of Icarus as he falls into the water. They are sticking up out of the water and nobody seems to have noticed. He is just another foolish little boy who has not heeded the word of his father.

The actual structure of the painting says a lot about itself. There is a lot of symbolism behind where certain things are placed within the picture. I noticed that there are three defined ships in the painting all with their sails pointing towards the settlement. All winds blow towards the civilization and the freedom. Perhaps this settlement was the destination that Daedylus and Icarus had in mind when they lifted off from Minos. Along the bottom of the painting depicts the life of the peasants and the serfs of the time who were born and died in the fishing villages of the Greek coast. This life is like the prison that Daedylus and Icarus were forced to live in. Along the top of the painting there is the Sun and a bustling trade settlement filled with beautiful white buildings that almost look like a depiction of Heaven. Everyone in the painting would have a better life if they could find a way to get there. Icarus had a chance but he did not head his father’s warnings. Icarus and his father were flying to a better life, towards the light and the heaven and leaving behind the dark and damp world of Minos represented by the dark colors chosen. In the middle of the harbor there is a small, rocky island with some thick vegetation at the back end of it. In the front of the rocky citadel of the island, there is a large door to a cavern. This may represent the challenge of making it through the labyrinth of life and ending up on the other side where life is greener and more beautiful. It is almost like a sacred grove on an island with a dungeon. Maybe it is the actual Minos. The vast harbor in the center of the painting separates two very different coasts. On the west coast there is the settlement surrounded by lush forests almost jungles and the east coast is comprised solely of snow-covered mountains that look inaccessible by explorers. There is no life on the east coast and all boats and life are on the west side of the painting.

The peasant farmer wearing the grey and red clothes behind the horse and plow will never get out of that life. They never had lotteries back then. He is forced to work behind the plow for the rest of his life and perhaps that is why his head is painted facing downwards in a kind of sulking state because he is imprisoned in a life that he will never be able to get out of. There is also the shepherd and his sheep dog. The shepherd is depicted looking up into the sky daydreaming while his sheep are grazing at the seaside. He seems to be asking the God’s in his mind why he was born a shepherd and not a King. He wants to leave the island and explore the world like Icarus had the chance to. There is also a man who seems to be fishing at the shore and he is bending over the water with his hand in the air. He seems to be holding some sort of fishing line dangling over the water. Over his left shoulder, there is a tiny iguana-looking creature that reminds me of the snake from the Garden of Eden. It looks like the demon that persuades Adam and Eve to take a bite out of the apple but this time the snake/iguana has persuaded Icarus to fly towards the sun because of its warmth and beauty. Icarus failed to remember that the wax on his wings would melt the closer he flew towards the sun. The snake is small and blends in with the surrounding shrubbery and it looks like it is coming out of the tree branch; almost as if it is apart of the island of Minos. It does want to let go of Icarus and it looks like it’s laughing since he fell for the trap and into the ocean.

One of the biggest things that I noticed before I even looked at the rest of the painting was that it seems as if nobody has noticed Icarus in the water. The idea definitely explains the title for me and its order of the words; “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus”. The significance of having the word “landscape” before the main character Icarus highlights his place in the society of the time. The farmer, the shepherd, the fisherman, and the boats all continue with their lives. The demonic snake laughs as it watches Icarus drown in the large harbor. The only thing that seems to be missing from the painting is Daedylus himself. Why isn’t he in the painting with Icarus? Why isn’t he shown continuing to fly toward civilization?

A Kiss in the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

In the book A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the author James Joyce suggests that when a boy grows into a man, he must confront the moral attacks that are unleashed upon him and set himself free from the maternal cuffs chained to him in order to pursue his art. Life is not easy for Stephen Dedalus who is growing up in Ireland near the end of the 17th century. His family has money and they send him to a nice boarding school where he is away from his family, reuniting with them only during the holidays. There, in the stone halls of the school, Stephen Dedalus is forced to grow up without the guidance of his mother and father and mature into a young man. He is bullied and teased and he makes friends and meets new people.

Everything starts with the contemplation of a kiss. What is a kiss? A kiss is the joining together of two peoples faces and the sound that comes from there vibrations. That is a kiss. But to Stephen it does not seem like much. He and his mother kiss all the time when he is home. There has got to be more to it.

You put your face up like that to say goodnight and then his mother put her face down. That was to kiss. His mother put her lips on his cheek; her lips were soft and they wetted his cheek; and they made a tiny little noise: kiss. Why did people do that with their two faces? (Joyce p. 27)

The kiss between a mother and her son is not just a kiss where there is no feeling behind the action. The love between a mother and her son is evident and subconsciously exchanged between the kisser and the kissed. It is just like when a mother is pregnant with her child. The food that the mother consumes is subconsciously fed to the baby inside her womb carried in through the umbilical cord. The baby is nourished, depending on what is consumed and it grows into a child all while the mother and father get ready for it to come out so they can pour all of their love unto it.

When the actual baby comes out, the mother kisses the baby, as a sign of her undying love and affection for what she helped to create. In the book, Stephen has just left his home for the academic quality of his boarding school. No longer is he under the shelter provided by his mother and father. One day at school, he is mocked by his peers for kissing his mother and he forced to figure out for what reason this would be worth mocking. Why, if he has been kissing his mother for his whole life without consequence, must he now endure the ridicule that is coming from his fellow classmates over a kiss?

Joyce begins his passage with a question. It sparks a conversation that has Stephen questioning the kissing of his mother; whether it was right or wrong. The bully, Wells, says “Tell us, Dedalus, do you kiss your mother every night before you go to bed,” (p. 26) with an ending that seems to mock the action of one kissing their mother. Now, Stephen is thinking that it would be foolish for him to answer yes because why else would Wells ask him such a question if he did not know the answer already? The question was asked because Wells knew the answer that Stephen was ready to give. Stephen answers “I do,” (p. 26) and Wells has a field day, turning to the other boys and enlightening them with the news that Stephen does give his mother a kiss every night before he goes to bed. As if to further degrade Stephen and show his utter feeling of embarrassment Joyce writes, “Stephen blushed under their eyes…” (p. 27) setting a scene where it is obvious that he is helpless and embarrassed among this group of boys who are tearing him apart and laughing at his admittance to the kissing of his mother. Stephen is not able to meet their eyes; they have too much power over him at the moment. In an effort to regain his standing among his peers Stephen suddenly rejects the love of his mother and says, “I do not.” (p. 27) All of the years that Stephen’s mother has spent raising her child have now been rejected for the sole purpose of redemption among the teenagers of her son’s class. But, Joyce chooses to not let Stephen have his way almost as punishment for the rejection of his mother. Wells laughs and again, turns to his fellow classmates and says “O, I say, here’s a fellow says he doesn’t kiss his mother before he goes to bed.” (p. 27) and then all of the boys laugh again.

In this part of the passage, Joyce brings up a burning question. Is it right to kiss one’s mother? What is the answer to Wells’ question that will not bring about roaring laughter? In a fit of blushing confusion, Stephen is caught rationalizing about a question that although simple on the surface is actually complex in all of its potential meanings. Joyce writes, “[Stephen] had given two [answers] and still Wells laughed.” (p. 27) Stephen’s first answer to the question was yes and the boys laughed because kissing your mother to them means showing her the love and affection that you have for her. In a way all this can be connected to the Oedipus complex which simply states that all men have subconscious attractions to their mothers. This is repulsive to the boys and to their standards they find it funny that Stephen has no idea that he is committing the utterly repulsive act of kissing his mother on the cheek every night before he goes to bed, the same way he would kiss a lover.

On the other hand, Stephen has also answered no. Why would the boys laugh to the only two possible answers of a seemingly simple question; what about Stephen not kissing his mother is funny? Joyce sets up this paradox in which the act of kissing was once accepted but now shamed upon by the parties. The boys now laugh at Stephen’s rejection of the kissing of his mother. They laugh because all the boys kiss their mother and it is interpreted by them as wrong at the moment of Stephen’s answer to not kiss his mother because she is the one who nurtures and provides love and warmth and all of the things that feel good to a child. It is sign of love and gratitude to kiss and a mother should be kissed.

Further down the passage, Joyce writes another important line that ties into the whole idea of a kiss and the warmth and comfort that a mother provides to her child. “The cold slime of the ditch covered his whole body; and, when the bell rang for study and the lines filed out of the playrooms, he felt the cold air of the corridor and the staircase inside his clothes.” (p. 27) Again, Joyce’s subtlety adds to the discussion of whether or not one should kiss their mother. Here is Stephen who had just been pushed into a cold, muddy ditch the day before this argument and he is recalling the feeling of the slimy mud and the impact that it had on him. Joyce describes the mud of the ditch as “cold slime,” (p. 27) and it can easily resemble the birth of a baby and the air making the slimy baby feel cold because it has left the warm and comforting womb of the mother.

With Joyce’s language Stephen can be seen as a child again and not a young teenager because he is longing for the love and comfort, once offered to him when living with his parents, that has been taken away from him at his boarding school by the bullying group of kids. Stephen feels alone among peers that mock the differences among themselves and it is killing Stephen inside, this burning question of what a kiss really meant.

Joyce sets up Stephen’s thoughts as he slowly makes connections in his mind, “What did it mean, to kiss?” (p. 27) Stephen tries to justify his kissing of his mother and the first answer that he had given to the boys. There is no reason for them to laugh at his first answer because they all laughed when Stephen answered the opposite in a feeling a desperation to be accepted. Joyce then writes:

Sitting in the studyhall he opened the lid of his desk and changed the number pasted up inside from seventyseven to seventysix. But the Christmas vacation was very far away: but one time it would come because the earth moved round always. (p. 27)

This last part of the passage helps to put into physicality the longing for a mother’s warmth and comfort that Stephen so dearly wishes to feel again. He counts down the days until vacation when he will be able to kiss his mother again and feel the love.

Now home, Stephen has matured from being away from his parents. He is attending the birthday party of one of his childhood friends and feels out of place because he is a mature teen in a young boy’s body. There is laughter and noisemakers and all of the kids are having fun. Stephen, on the other hand, is in the corner. He tries to partake in the laughter and fun but feels that he is too unhappy to take part in the festivities.

But, there is a girl at the party that catches Stephen’s attention when “her glances travelled to his corner, flattering, taunting, searching, exciting his heart,” (p. 72) Joyce uses all of these verbs to personify the glances that this teenage girl is sending over to Stephen in his little corner of the party. The verbs help to illustrate the feelings that Stephen is getting when he is aroused by her glances. The glances are “flattering” because they describe the emotions and excitement that Stephen’s heart feels when she has spotted him. She continues to send over her glances while playing with her friends. The glances taunt as well because Stephen wants to go over and find out what is so intriguing about this girl who seems to be obsessing with her eyes over him in his corner. And the fact that Joyce chooses to say that her glances are “exciting his heart helps to reinforce that Stephen is feeling something familiar like the love he feels from his mother.

Joyce uses personification to describe the girl’s actions and her every move. The “sprays of her fresh warm breath flew gaily above her cowled head and her shoes tapped blithely on the glassy road,” (p. 72) and were given life which almost sets up this girl as a life-giving entity where life protrudes from her body, almost like a mother who is giving birth to a child.

The reason for Stephen’s intrigue with this girl may be her overwhelmingly motherly aura about her. She gives him attention that no one else really gives to him during the party except for when he is at home with his mother. Her glances are the reasons why they leave the party and catch the last tram home together.

In the next couple of paragraphs of the passage, Joyce chooses to describe the feelings that Stephen gets when he is on the steps of the tram speaking with the girl instead of the actual dialogue of the conversation that would be happening because it subtlety allows Stephen’s real reasons for his attraction to this girl surface.

Throughout the passage, Joyce uses “his heart danced,” (p. 73) and “his dancing heart,” as a way to show that Stephen is aroused by this girl who seems to be attracted to him as well because during their conversation “she came up to his step many times and went down to hers again between their phrases and once or twice stood close beside him for some moments on the upper step, forgetting to go down, and then went down,” (p. 73) almost in a way involved with him that she keeps forgetting what she is in the middle of doing.

But, Joyce’s use of “dancing heart” and not a beating heart or a warm heart shows that Stephen is aroused by her presence. Dancing can be sexual at times and the connection can be made that he is being sexually aroused by this girl inadvertently. Stephen is a young man and his hormones are at times uncontrollable and get the best of him. He does not have “feelings” for the girl; Stephen lusts after her and that is why Joyce has chosen to use the phrase, “his dancing heart.” (p. 73)

In the next paragraph of the passage there is a shift to a dreamlike state where Stephen fantasizes about taking hold or “catching hold of her,” (p. 73) so that he can unleash the lust that is trying to break out of him. During Stephen’s fantasy, he envisions himself grabbing hold of her the next time she comes to his step and kissing her. In one of the sentences describing Stephen’s fantasy, Joyce chooses to add “nobody is looking,” (p. 73) Why should it matter if nobody was looking? Does Joyce want to shine light on the fact that it would be wrong for Stephen to kiss this little girl? Or is it the fact that Stephen has the urge to kiss this girl that is wrong.

Going back to the idea that a kiss is something that a mother and her child share together in a sign of love and affection, the girl that Stephen is on the train with is not his mother. She may conduct herself in a way that is similar to Stephen’s mother but she is too young to provide all the necessities of life to him.

Stephen is only lusting after her and is physically attracted to her being and so that is why Joyce writes his next paragraph. “But he did neither: and, when he was sitting alone in the deserted tram, he tore his ticket into shreds and stared gloomily at the corrugated footboard.” (p. 73) Why was Stephen angry? Because Joyce wanted to show the wrong in thinking that this girl that he met at the birthday party was worthy of a kiss that represents love and affection. A kiss that is reserved solely for his mother and the people that deserved it; people that not only showed the qualities that were found in his mother but also exemplified those motherly traits as well.

In the end, Stephen does not kiss the girl and he is upset because his body is changing and as it changes there are forces telling him that something has to take place. He cannot show love to any woman besides his mother but his body will soon change his feelings about who he sees as a mother.

In the last passage chosen to show Stephen’s evolution throughout the story, Joyce describes Stephen’s adventures into the Red Light District of Dublin, Ireland. In this part of the story he is enjoying more and more freedom as he is growing older into a man and his family and their monetary matters has loosened the grip that they once had upon him. This grip that was once on Stephen has now been lifted and Stephen is exposed to moral conflicts during which he must make decisions using his sole judgment.

In the beginning of the passage, Joyce starts off by writing “He had wandered into a maze of narrow and dirty streets,” (p. 98) almost as if Joyce was trying to show that Stephen is lost. The Red Light District is described as a “maze” to show that there are wrong turns that lead to horrible things and there is only one right way out and sometimes it is very hard to follow. This “maze” can easily be connected to the myth of the Minotaur and Daedalus and his maze. If the wrong turn is taken in the maze designed by Daedalus and Icarus then the path would lead to the Minotaur and danger. There is danger in the Red Light District waiting around the corners for Stephen.

In the next couple of sentences, Joyce describes Stephen as “trembling,” and “awakened from a slumber of centuries.” (p. 98) Stephen is “trembling” because he does not know where to go and it is scary to him to feel not comforted and lost. But then, Joyce shifts in his tone of loss to a tone of comfort and hospitality writing:

He stood in the middle of the roadway, his heart clamouring against his bosom in a tumult. A young woman dressed in a long pink gown laid her hand on his arm to detain him and gazed into his face. She said gaily: / Good night, Willie Dear! (p. 98)

Joyce’s introduction of this woman strongly resembles the comfort that a mother provides her son when they are lost and need a place to go. This woman takes Stephen by the arm and brings him into her home. In the next line of the new paragraph, “Her room was warm and lightsome,” (p. 98) the description strongly connects to the way the inside of a mother’s womb would be described.

Going back to the thoughts of the inside of a mother’s womb, it is warm and shields the baby from the elements of the outside world. It is where the baby is floating in a pool and receiving nourishment from the umbilical cord. Joyce’s choice to use the word “lightsome” is not to illustrate the womb being “lit up.” It is used to connect the fact that light gives life. The sun provides life and the womb is “lightsome” because of the umbilical cord and the life it is bringing to the baby.

Later on in the passage Joyce describes the scene as the woman “undid her gown,” (p. 98) and “she came over to him and embraced him gaily and gravely.” (p. 99) Stephen knows that he is in a predicament that is morally corrupting him and he is unable to speak. In the next paragraph Joyce writes, “She passed her tinkling hand through his hair, calling him a little rascal,” (p. 99) almost in a playful manner like the one found within a mother and her newborn child. Then she says, “Give me a kiss,” (p. 99) and Stephen is forced into a moral dilemma once again.

All this is quite different from when Stephen was contemplating as to whether or not he wanted to kiss the girl on the tram because now he was in a position that was overwhelming and physical. Before, with the girl on the tram, she does not comfort Stephen, she does not reach out to him; like the prostitute does. Although Stephen was not the one who was lusting this time, it was the prostitute, whose “round arms held him firmly to her,” (p. 99). When she said to Stephen “Give me a kiss,” (p. 99) the question went deeper than the simple action of kissing. She was asking Stephen to love her and show her the affection that he shows his mother. But, he does not love this prostitute. He doesn’t even know her and it impossible to love such a woman. That is the reason why Joyce writes, “His lips would not bend to kiss her.” (p. 99) But after all was said and done, Stephen looses control and he “[surrenders] himself to her, body and mind, conscious of nothing in the world but the dark pressure of her softly parting lips,” (p. 99) and Stephen gives into the lust that eventually taints his soul.

In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, Stephen Dedalus evolves from a young boy going to boarding school into a young man who finds out who he is and what he wants to devote his life to. His experiences, as talked about in the essay, show the different stages of evolution that Stephen goes through in his journey through life to become an artist. Stephen eventually sheds the chains holding him from exploring the world of art and James Joyce beautifully writes his Portrait.