By Roger E. Parsell
Ernest Pontifex, protagonist within the means of All Flesh, battles his father's iron will in a private fight to totally become aware of the possibility of the self. whereas taking the placement of an highbrow gadfly made up our minds to assault the shams of society, Pontifex additionally assumes the de facto function of spokesman for the author's specified anti-Victorian ideals.
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Additional info for The Way of All Flesh (Cliffs Notes)
London: Hutchinson, 1953. Comments on The Way of All Flesh as a significant nineteenth-century novel of protest. LINDE, ISE DUSOIR. " Victorian Newsletter 9 (Spring 1956): 7-10. Suggests that Joyce forfeited the humanism of Butler in going modern. MARSHALL, WILLIAM H. " University of Texas Studies in Literature and Language 4 (Winter 1963): 583-90. Construes Overton's complex role and possible contradictory values as enriching the novel. _____. " Tennessee Studies in Literature 10 (1965): 10921.
POINT OF VIEW The point of view in the novel is from first to last that of Edward Overton, the author only slightly disguised. Everything the reader learns comes through Overton, an old friend of the Pontifex family who, significantly, was born the same year as Ernest's father. Overton's importance cannot be overstated, for he defines both what is related and how it is presented. He is usually on the fringe of the action as an observer, but from time to time he assumes an active role, particularly toward the end of the novel when Ernest is finally freed from his foolishness and insolvency.
He is usually on the fringe of the action as an observer, but from time to time he assumes an active role, particularly toward the end of the novel when Ernest is finally freed from his foolishness and insolvency. It is not only Overton's point of view which serves as the principal unifying device but also his set of values which plays a crucial part in the novel by providing a standard for measuring Ernest's progress. Overton's relativism stands in clear opposition to Theobald's absolutism. In other words, Overton sees life more as a process and less as a product, more as becoming than as being.