Coming of age in Ireland carries with it cultural and religious expectations drawn out from the history of Nationalism and the Catholic Church in Ireland. Using Michel Foucault’s theories on punishment and discipline, this essay looks at the way the Irish Catholic Church forms identity and conflict in characters from two different stories. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce and The Land of Spices by Kate O’Brien depict the coming-of-age of two main characters struggling to create their own identity in a strict Irish Catholic Culture. Though each of the characters grow and change over the course of their stories, their personal discipline gained from experiences in convent and Jesuit schools motivated many of their decisions. Ultimately, their journeys as artists are thwarted because they are perpetually obedient to the Irish Catholic cultural norms instilled in them since birth.



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