Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

"It's Not Hard to Make Decisions When You Know What Your Values Are"

Roy Disney explains that "It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are." This is an important theme for the characters of Stephen Dedalus from James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and of Frank McCourt from Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes. The two things in life that are supposed to supply stability (parents and the church) have failed, which is why Stephen and Frank discover that only through their own self-reliance will they ever be able to experience true freedom from the forces that have bound them.

Stephen's parents let him down by not emotionally supporting him while Frank's parents do not physically support him. Right before Stephen leaves to go to the university, his father shouts out to his siblings, "Is your lazy bitch of a brother gone out yet?" (135). Stephen's father shows a lack of respect for his son by calling him lazy and goes on to imply that he is not very masculine. His father belittles him in front of his family and does not even apologize for his harsh words. Stephen's mother also disappoints him as "he had watched the faith which was fading down in his soul aging and strengthening in her eyes" (126). Stephen...

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