What was after the universe? Nothing. But was there anything round the universe to show where it stopped before the nothing place began? It could not be a wall but there could be a thin thin line there all round everything. It was very big to think about everything and everywhere. Only God could do that.

This quotation, which appears in Chapter 1, establishes Stephen’s inquisitive nature and foreshadows the personal growth that he will experience as the novel progresses. As he reads a list of place names that he has written in his geography book, a list that begins with his own name and ends with the universe, he contemplates how he truly fits into the world around him. This scene demonstrates the more limited intellectual capacity of Stephen as a young boy, but the attempts he makes to view the world on a larger scale suggest that, as he gets older, his perspective will broaden as well. 

—This race and this country and this life produced me, he said. I shall express myself as I am.

In Chapter 5, Stephen’s friend Davin attempts to convince him to join the Irish National movement, and Stephen strongly rejects this proposal. This particular line, which serves as Stephen’s response to Davin’s accusation that he does not act like a true Irishman, emphasizes the idea that every individual is a unique product of the country, culture, and family from which they originated. Stephen believes that being true to himself is the best way to honor his Irish heritage as it prevents social and political tensions from restricting his personal growth. 

I do not fear to be alone or to be spurned for another or to leave whatever I have to leave. And I am not afraid to make a mistake, even a great mistake, a lifelong mistake and perhaps as long as eternity too.

This quotation appears near the end of Chapter 5 and highlights the determination with which Stephen approaches his new life as an artist. Despite Cranly’s attempts to convince him of the importance of family and faith, Stephen’s belief in his destiny is so strong that not even the threat of isolation can break his resolve. In this moment, he lives up to the legacy of his namesake, St. Stephen, by willingly sacrificing everything he has in order to pursue what he believes is right.