Lecture Five--Breakfast with Calypso
(from "Joyce's Ulysses" by Professor James A.W. Hefferman of Dartmouth College)
This chapter introduces us to Leopold Bloom, the second major
character in the novel and the Joycean counterpart of Ulysses. The
chapter takes its name ii'om the nymph who detained Ulysses for
seven years. As the servant of his wife, for whom he prepares
breakfast in bed and to whom he delivers a letter written by her
lover, Bloom is in a sense enthralled by his wife, who actually
resembles the picture ofa nymph hanging above her bed. On a
small scale, Bloom wanders in this chapter-mentally as well as
physically»-and when he retums from his short shopping
expedition, he finds disturbing evidence that his house and wife
have been usurped by another man. He thus reenacts not only the
experience ofthe homecoming of Ulysses but also that of Stephen
Dedalus, Whose country has been usurped by England and whose
literary ambitions have been usurped by Buck Mulligan.
I. Chapter 4 shifts the focus from Stephen to Leopold Bloom, the
counterpart of Homer’s Ulysses, and lets us compare the two.
A. The first three chapters are collectively called “The Telemachiad”
because they introduce us to Stephen, the counterpart of Homer’s
B. Chapters 4-15 make up the longest section of the novel.
Corresponding to the wanderings of Ulysses in Homer’s epic, they
tell the story of Bloom’s day from 8:00 a.m. on Bloomsday to 1:00
a.m. the next morning.
C. Chapters 4~6 tell the story of Bloom’s morning so that we canII. While Stephen cultivates the life of the mind, Bloom cherishes the
compare and contrast it to Stephen’s morning. Though sometimes
called “spatial form” because it represents various characters
juxtaposed in space, it might better be called “synchronized
narration” or even “meanwhile” narration.
needs ofthe body.
A. Although Stephen is repelled by the thought of “urinous offal”
excreted by a drowned body at the end of “Proteus,” Bloom loves
the tang of urine in grilled kidneys.
B. Bloom has no squeamishness about any bodily functions andIII. Though Molly recalls Homer’s Calypso in this chapter, and though
enjoys defecating at the end of the chapter.
Bloom differs radically from Homer’s heroic Voyager, he nonetheless
begins to reenact the experience of Ulysses.
A. In The Odyssey, Calypso is a nymph who detains Ulysses for
seven years until Zeus compels her to let Ulysses go home.
B. Though Molly Bloom is Leopold’s wife, she resembles Calypso ir
some ways.1. She grew up the island of Gibraltar, originally called Calpe
because it was thought to be inhabited by Calypso.
2. She resembles the nymph in the reproduction of a paintingC. In response to a question from Molly, Bloom explains the idea of
that hangs over the bed she shares with Bloom.
reincarnation, unwittingly referring to his own reincarnation as
Ulysses.1. While shopping for a pork kidney and, thus, revealing that he
is anything but an orthodox Jew, Bloom wanders mentally as
well as physically.a. Like the philandering Ulysses, who enjoyed the sexual
favors of both a nymph and an enchantress during his
long years at sea, Bloom ogles a sexy-looking girl at the
b. An ad for a model farm in Palestine makes him mentally
travel to the Middle East and ultimately to the Dead Sea,
“a barren land.”
c. Thus, his short trip to the pork butcher’s becomes2. Returning home he finds on the hall floor a letter that gives
something like a Ulyssean adventure.
him a shock and makes him experience the first unmistakably
Ulyssean moment in the novel.a. The letter is addressed in “bold hand” to “Mrs. Marion
Bloom,” thrusting Leopold aside.
b. The letter comes from Blazes Boylan, the notoriously
flashy promoter who is arranging a concert tour for
Molly, a professional singer.
c. Like Ulysses returning to Ithaca to find suitors occupying
his house, Bloom returns to find his house usurped by
another man With designs on his wife.
IV. Along with a sense of usurpation, Bloom shares many things with
A. Both wear black and are burdened by memories of the dead.1. Stephen remembers his mother.
2. Bloom remembers his son, Rudy, who died in infancy, and hrsB. Both men are fascinated by animals.
father, who committed suicide.1. Stephen watches a dog in chapter 3.
2. ln chapter 4, Bloom feeds his cat and tries to imagine how the
cat sees him.
3. Both men think about cattle.C. Both men think of Simon Dedalus-Stephen’s father-as a mimic.
D. Both men think about birth, patemity, and father-son relations.
E. Bloom’s mental wandering to the Middle East recalls the dreamV. Nevertheless, Bloom differs from Stephen in many ways-especially in
that Stephen struggles to recall in chapter 3.
his experience of music.
A. Stephen remembers singing a song to his dying mother at her
request, but Molly tells Bloom about a song that she herself plans
to sing-a duet of seduction.1. In the duet, from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the don persuades a
newly engaged country girl to come with him to his villa.
2. Because this song is on the program that Blazes Boylan hasB. The letter from Bloom’s teenage daughter, Milly, further reveals
come to discuss with Molly, it underscores the sexual purpose
of Boylan’s visit.
the seductive power of music.1. Because Milly (now working some distance from Dublin)
reports that she has just met a “young student” who sings a
song about “those seaside girls,” Bloom must face the sexual
ripening of his daughter.
2. In speaking of “Boylan” as the composer ofthe song, Milly
invites us to link her yotmg admirer with the seducer of
3. Thus, Bloom must face the prospect that both his wife and
daughter may be seduced.
VI. Though Bloom seems wholly different from Ulysses, who killed every
man that dared even to desire his wife, his thoughtfulness and foresight
recall the shrewdness of Ulysses.
VII. In spite ofthe differences between Stephen and Bloom, both of them
brood on “love’s bitter mystery.”
A. Stephen yeams to shake the burden of guilt left by his dead
B. Bloom stuggles to bear the knowledge that his wife is about to
Glasheen, “Calypso,” in Han and Hayman, pp. 51-70
Kenner, Ulysses, pp. 46-50.
Questions to Consider:
l. If Bloom knows that Boylan plans to seduce Molly on Bloomsday, why
does he do nothing to stop it?
2. If Bloom is preoccupied with the needs of his body, does he show any
evidence of intellectual curiosity or imagination?