The only true thing in life

In the final chapter of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Stephen's friend Cranly has said, "Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother's love is not. Your mother brings you into the world, carries you first in her body. What do we know about how she feels? But whatever she feels, it, at least, must be real." Looking down at Sargent in Nestor, Stephen thinks of his mother: "She had loved his weak watery blood drained from her own. Was that then real? The only true thing in life?"

JH 2012

Photographic portrait of Joyce, date unknown. Source:

Berenice Abbott's 1926 photographic portrait of Nora Barnacle. Source: