One morning that fall, Stephen watches as workmen carry away most of the furniture in his home to prepare for his family’s move to Dublin. The cold, bare house that evening is very sad. The family is moving because of their increasing money troubles, and Stephen understands that his father has been financially irresponsible.
Stephen’s dreamy, thoughtful adolescence is often jarred by earthbound practical concerns like money. For his family, too, he feels a mixture of pity and condescension; it seems like even family-feeling is too mundane and earthly for the haughty young artist.
In Dublin, Stephen has the time and freedom to wander around at will – the same vague restlessness still consumes him. The world seems beautifully varied to him, but at the same time it seems dirty and empty.
Though Stephen is learning to love abstract thought, he remains attentive to the acute sensory impressions he has collected since childhood. The two are very different modes of experiencing and seeing the world.
One day, Stephen goes with his mother to visit his aunt. Her family is gathered looking at the picture of a pretty actress when a very old woman appears, probably another relative. Another day, he attends a children’s party which annoys and bores him when is forced to partake, but which he enjoys observing from a distance. Afterwards, a girl named E____ C____ (also referred to as ‘Emma’) walks with Stephen to the tram. They talk on their way home, and Stephen admires the girl’s eyes and clothes. He thinks he might kiss her, but he doesn’t.
Stephen is going through quite a rough period. His family repels him, other children bore and confuse him. His only pleasures are literature and his new romantic attachment. He had roamed the streets longing for some sort of romantic mystery, and his feelings for E___ C___ satisfy that longing – though it’s the sort of satisfaction that creates more longing in its wake. Note also how it is an imaginary kind of attachment, almost dependent on nothing actually happening between them so that his romantic dream of E____C____ can remain pure.
The next day Stephen tries to write a poem for her; he strips the poem of every specific circumstance and leaves only soft romantic images –moon, wind, and silence. A few days later, Stephen finds out he’ll be attending a new school; his younger brother Maurice will come with him.
Though Stephen’s real experience with E____C____ was full of particular and quite unromantic details, like scattered tickets and horse sounds, when he transforms the experience into art he simplifies and smoothes it.