The story, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, was a portrait that explored the progression through life that Stephan Dedaelus and James Joyce both took. This book was written as a third person autobiography, and it explored Joyce's life. He used different names, but he kept most of the main details the same. His search for the role that artist played in his life was an ongoing struggle for Stephan throughout the novel. His alienation from family, friends and society was a problem that Stephan had because of his views on life and art. He struggled greatly with his dilemma between religion and art for most of his life, because society and family wanted him to take up religion, while he wanted to express himself freely in the world that he was in and therefore he chose art. His desire for this independence from other people's standards plagued him for most of the novel and he needed to go through all of these experiences in order to find himself these were all a part of his journey that he needed to take to discover himself, and develop his own individual consciousness. Therefore, Stephan Dedaelus" pursuit for his own self-discovery was compromised by many struggles with his role as the artist, his alienation from society, his conflict between religion and art, and his desire for personal independence and freedom as an individual.
Stephan's search for the role that the artist plays in his life is an ongoing struggle throughout the novel that eventually leads to his own self-discovery. It starts with his childhood, and continues throughout his life. Since Stephan was a little boy, before he could talk, he was interested in sounds and the power of the spoken word. He had a great interest for words and it showed. Especially in the first chapter when Dante was telling him that birds would pick out his eyes if he did not apologise, and Stephan took this and changed it into a little rhythmical song or stanza.