Starting midway through chapter 3, and ending midway through chapter 4, is 30-40 pages of some of the worst reading I've ever trudged through.
It starts with Father Arnall talking about the upcoming holiday of Francis Xavier. Then there are like 30 something pages talking about how holy priests are and how terrible hell is and how damned Stephen feels his spirit is and how he repents and becomes holier than thou with a spotless soul and all that crud.
OK JOYCE, WE GET IT. He could have condensed that entire section into 10 or less pages. The ONLY interesting part throughout that section is the repetance itself.
It only ends when Stephen get's offered the opportunity of priesthood and he snaps out of his little religious trance.
Like I said, we get it Joyce. We get that the extreme of sin you got to was damaging, and that the extreme of religious morality was unbearable as well. Now cut off 20-30 pages and be done with it.
I almost gave up on the book as a whole, honestly, because of how bad that section was. I'm glad I havn't though, since it's picking up now and I'm really enjoying it again.
If faced with the options of reading that part of Portrait again or jabbing myself in the eyes with a fork, I think I'd take the fork.