For me, one of the most interesting moments of “Telemachus” was near then end, when Stephen and Haines discuss the issues of servitude and freedom. First of all, I found Haines’ statement, “After all, I should think you are able to free yourself. You are your own master, it seems to me,” (17) both naïve and insensitive. Perhaps I’m overestimating the extent of the tensions between the Irish and English, but this seems like a ridiculous thing for an Englishman trying to “play nice” to say to a dissatisfied Irishman. It was not a smart move, which he realizes as soon as Stephen responds. In an attempt to remedy the situation, Haines gives the abysmally weak excuse, “It seems history is to blame,” (17).
In addition to being intrigued by Haines’ failure at political correctness, I found it fascinating that Stephen still considers himself a servant of the Catholic Church. As we know from Portrait, Stephen can no longer accept Catholicism, going so far as to refuse to pray for his mother as she was dying. One would think that a person with such a strong aversion to the Church would have tried to distance himself from it as much as possible. Even if it did take time to sever the connection, I would expect Stephen to be making a conscious effort to forget his religious past. Instead, practically every other paragraph of “Telemachus” has some reference to Catholicism (or Christianity, at the very least). Many of these references come in the form of Stephen’s thoughts and words. The frequency of these musings, combined with the fact that Stephen still feels enslaved by Catholicism make it hard for me to believe that he has completely given up on the faith. Obviously, he is struggling with his beliefs (and lack thereof), possibly in an attempt to reconcile the teachings of the Church with his life experience. I look forward to seeing Stephen’s relationship with Catholicism progress throughout the book.