Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Lecture Twenty-Four -- Joyce and the Modern Novel
(from "Joyce's Ulysses" by Professor James A.W. Hefferman of Dartmouth College)

This final lecture situates Ulysses in the history of English fiction,
suggests a possible answer to one of the questions raised by its
ending, and briefly considers the sequel to Ulysses-Finnegans
Wake. The absence of decisive answers to many of the questions
raised by this novel exemplifies Joyce’s refusal to follow the rules
of conventional plotting, for here is chiefly a story of characters
who lack clear-cut motivation and achieve almost nothing specific
by the end. To set Joyce’s novel beside its nineteenth-century
predecessors is to see that he virtually exploded the form while
nonetheless binding his universalizing vision to the richly
particularized streets of Dublin on a quite specific day. His story is
timeless because we are all wanderers who know what it means to
return, and for this reason, it is at least possible that Bloom and
Molly will return to each other sexually. In any case, Joyce himself
returned to the major themes and characters of Ulysses when he
recycled them in the ever-circling “riverrun” of Finnegans Wake.


I. The ending of Ulysses leaves major questions unanswered because
Joyce has no use for the conventional rules of plotting, which require
clear-cut motivation and decisive resolution.
A. Different as they are, nineteenth~century novels such as Jane
Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Charles Dickens’s Great
Expectations resolve nearly all their conflicts by means of
1. At the end of Pride and Prejudice the heroine and her
sister--who will inherit very little from their father and are
therefore, looking for suitable husbands--marry rich and
handsome young men.

2. At the end of Great Expectations, three pairs of characters are
married, and the hero--who has gratified his desire for
gentility with the aid of a mysterious benefaction--still
expects to gratify his desire for Estella by marrying her.
B. By contrast, the chief characters of Ulysses lack clear motivation
and achieve almost nothing specific by the end.
1. Stephen takes no specific steps toward any profession and
does not even know where he will spend the night when he
leaves Bloom’s house.

2. Bloom can hardly say who he is when he tries to leave a
message for Gerty on the beach, and his plan to adopt Stephen
as a surrogate son goes nowhere.

3. We do not know whether Bloom and Molly will ever again
have sex, and we don’t know whether Molly’s affair with
Boylan will continue.
C. Joyce avoids the sensationalism of earlier novels.
1. Though Dignam is buried, nobody dies in this novel.

2. Except for the ghostly visitations of Stephen’s mother and the
wild hallucinations of the “Circe” chapter, Joyce eschewg
violence, terror, horror, and bloodshed.

3. In spite of its passages of obscenity, this novel offers nothing
like the sex scenes furnished by nineteenth-century soft-porn
Il. Ulysses is also distinguished from earlier fiction by its dazzling
diversity of voices and styles.
A. Before Joyce, novels were largely dominated by a single narrative

B. Ulysses speaks with many voices and from many different
1. Chapter 7 apes the layout of a newspaper.

2. Chapter 12 includes 33 parodies interspersed with the

3. Chapter 13 suddenly lurches in the middle from one viewpoint
to another.

4. Chapter I4 parodies every stage of the English language from
Anglo-Saxon to high Victorian.
III. In spite of its bewildering diversity, Ulysses differs 3 narrative of events
realistically situated in space and time.
A. Joyce sets his narrative in a fully realized place,
1. He painstakingly re-creates the sights and sounds and smells
of Dublin.

2. Because Molly grew up in Gibraltar, he packed her
monologue with so many facts about the island that a native of
the place refused to believe Joyce had never set foot on it.
B. Throughout the novel, Joyce registers the passage of time.
1. Once he learns that Boylan is coming to see Molly at 4:00,
Bloom can hardly keep his eyes off his watch or any available

2. Even lying awake in the wee hours of the morning, Molly
counts the hours as well as the days.
IV. Nevertheless, Joyce manipulates time in various ways.
A. He turns back the ticking of the clock to show that two or more
things are happening at once.
1. Chapters l-3 take Stephen through the morning from
breakfast to his walk on Sandymount Strand; likewise,
chapters 4-6 take Bloom through his morning from breakfast
through Paddy Dignam’s funeral.

2. In chapter 10, “Wandering Rocks,” many people make their
way through Dublin at the same time, and each has business
of his or her own.
B. He ruptures time or treats a particular event as timeless.
1. The long hallucinations of the “Circe” chapter are essentially
timeless breaks in the realistic passage of the night.

2. The parodies of chapter l2 sometimes recast its action in a
wholly different period of time.

3. The succession of styles in chapter 14 prompts us to see the
events of the night-and of the whole day-as timeless
reenactments of events long past.
V. Joyce’s story is timeless because Bloom reincarnates Ulysses, the
archetypal wanderer who finally comes home.
A. Building on the principle of reincarnation, Joyce repeatedly
bridges the gaps between Ulysses and Bloom.

B. His novel takes its shape at once from the structure of a day and
the structure of Homer’s epic.
1. The structure of Ulysses is tripartite: a three-chapter
Telemachiad introducing Stephen, a long central section on
the wanderings of Bloom, and a final three-chapter section on
Bloom’s homecoming.

2. Even the seemingly uncontrolled monologue of Molly at the
end is dictated by a principle of symmetry; it balances the
male monologue of Stephen in chapter 3.
VI. Though we don’t know for certain what happens at the end to the
relation between Molly and Bloom, the final chapter gives us reason to
believe that they may resume having sexual intercourse.
A. In asking Molly to serve him breakfast in bed, Bloom makes it
clear that the day after Bloomsday will be different.
1. By the end of the monologue, it’s also clear that she has
agreed to serve him.

2. Though this doesn’t mean that he will ever treat her as a
servant, it may mean that he seeks to revive the reciprocity of
their first love, with each giving and taking in equal shares.
B. The resumption of sexual relations between them is a distinct
1. Bloom is perfectly capable of having sex with Molly again,
and nothing in the novel tells us definitely that it cannot

2. Molly finds Bloom not only more refined than Boylan but
more potent.
VII. Joyce’s own next move was to spend 17 years writing Finnegans
Wake, published in 1939. Pursuing the course begun by Ulysses,
Joyce’s last novel offers a night vision of the world in which history is
endlessly recycled,
A. Taking its title from an Irish ballad about a man who dies and is
revived by whiskey, this novel treats death and regeneration. lt
exemplifies the process of returning and recycling that we have
seen in Ulysses.
1. Leopold Bloom, the paterfamilias of Ulysses, is succeeded by
a pub owner named Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker.

2. Molly herself becomes Humphrey’s wife, Anna Livia, whose
name evoked the River Liffey.

3. The night vision of Finnegans Wake recalls and recycles the
nocturnal monologue of Molly Bloom.

4. The novel begins in the middle of a sentence that begins at the
very end of the novel, so the end takes us back to the
B. Though timeless and universal in its range, the novel’s vision of
universal history keeps its eyes on Dublin, the world of Ubfsses.
1. Its very first sentence refers to a castle and a river that may
respectively symbolize the city-building of mankind and the
fertility of womankind.

2. It also evokes Howth Head, where Molly and Bloom first
consummated their love.

3. Together, castle and river signify a city whose rivers flow to
the sea, which Buck Mulligan blessed on the very first page of
Vlll. In Ulysses, Joyce unweaves and reweaves the work of an ancient poet
who remains forever alive because his tale can be reanimated by each
new generation.

Supplementary Reading
See Bibliography.
Questions to Consider:
1. If Joyce aims to tell a timeless story in Ulysses, why does his novel
seem so preoccupied with specific times of the day and night?

2. Does Joyce finally persuade you that Leopold Bloom is the
reincarnation of Homer’s Ulysses?


Chapter 18
Lecture Twenty-Three -- Molly Bloom Speaks
(from "Joyce's Ulysses" by Professor James A.W. Hefferman of Dartmouth College)


This chapter takes its name from the wife of Ulysses, who
remained at home in Ithaca during his twenty-year absence and
who faithfully resisted all her suitors while awaiting his return.
Given that Molly has entertained a lover while Bloom was away
for less than 24 hours, she seems hardly a model of Penelopean
fidelity, and while Penelope speaks of almost nothing but her
longing to see Ulysses again, Molly generates a waterfall of words
Lying in bed with Bloom in the wee hours of the morning, she
thinks of everything she’s ever done or felt and every man she’s
ever known. Nevertheless, her uninhibited and sometimes self-
contradictory monologue finally shows her thoughts returning to
Bloom, whom she clearly prefers to Boylan. Even though she
craves another dose of the sexual excitement Boylan has given her,
Bloom is the only man she’s ever known who fully understood
her, and it is with her memory of their first ecstatic lovemaking
that Molly’s monologue ends.


The key to Molly's wildly flowing monologue is its first and last word
A. Unlike the catechist of chapter 17, who moves by starts and stops,
Molly speaks like a roaring stream.
1. Though the episode consists of eight “sentences,” they
average five pages each.
2. Apart from l\/lolly’s reference to her menstrual period, the
only period we find in this nonstop monologue appears at its
very end.
B. But the first and last word of the monologue is yes, and that is the
key to its life-affirming spirit.
II. Though critics have defended Molly by calling her an earth mother, she
gives precious little evidence of fecundity.
A. Against the charge that Molly has “horrible” thoughts, critics have
argued that she’s an earth mother.
1. At the end of the “Ithaca” chapter, Molly lies on her side “in
the attitude of Gea-Tellus, fulfilled, recumbent, big with
2. Menstmating and urinating, she seems a force of nature, like
earth or rain, “self-befouling, self-purifying.”
B. But she’s not notably fecund.
1. She has just one living child-her daughter, Milly.
2. Her menstruation shows that she’s not pregnant-at which she
seems relieved.
III. Beside being an earth-mother with just one child, Molly is a bundle of
other contradictions.
A. Though known around Dublin as a “gamey mare,” Molly gives no
evidence that she ever had sex with anyone before Bloom or that
she has ever committed adultery before today. In fact, she has long
been celibate.
1. Before Bloom, she mentions just two suitors, and in her frank
account of what she did with them, she makes no reference to
having had sex with either.

2. So far as we know, Molly’s fling with Boylan was her first
complete experience of sexual intercourse in more than ten
B. Though Rudy’s death seems to have touched her as deeply as it did
Bloom, she has nothing good to say about any children, including
her own daughter.
1. She was so traumatized by the death of Rudy that she knew
she would never have another child.

2. She dislikes all children
a. She scorns the nonstop pregnancies of Mina Purefoy.

b. She resents her daughter, Milly, whom she sees as a rival
for Bloom’s attention.
C. Though she speaks up for women, she also disparages them.
1. She thinks the world would be much better off if women were
put in charge of it.

2. But so far from seeking to make common cause with women
against oppressive males, she says that women are “bitches”
and she distrusts nearly all of them.

IV. In spite of her affair with Boylan, Bloom remains Molly’s best friend
A. All the qualities that Molly ascribes to women at their best can be
found in Bloom.

B. In a city filled with drunken good-for-nothings, she appreciates his
thriftiness, good manners, and concern for his family.

C. She’s captivated by his worship of her body.

D. She’s the only one Who understands him.

V. Nevertheless, she no longer admires Bloom’s talent for Ulyssean
A. As a performer herself, she loved to pretend “for fun” and thought
of Bloom as a co-conspirator.
1. Catching up with her in the rain one day for some intimate
fondling, he gave her a story to explain the delay to her father

2. She liked the fact that he could see her desire through the
mask of conventional modesty that she felt bound to wear
B. But having listened to Bloom’s account of his day and night, she
thinks he’s lying.

VI. Feeling sadly that she’s past her prime, she yearns for sexual
adventures to prove that she can still arouse a man’s desire-especially
since she’s had no sex with Bloom for more than ten years. Above all,
she Wants to excite Bloom’s desire.
A. She fantasizes about having an affair with Stephen.

B. She savors the fresh memory of Boylan’s potency. His sexual
score grows every time she thinks about it-from “3 or 4 times” to
“5 or 6 times” in the course of a single visit. So far from feeling
guilty about her affair or wanting to conceal it, she wants Bloom to
know about it.

C. She justifies her adultery by citing Bloom’s sexual neglect of her.

D. Paradoxically, Molly’s urge to punish and humiliate Bloom
springs from her desire for him, her desperate longing to rouse his
desire for her.
Vll. In spite of her eagerness to see Boylan again, she still cares more for
Bloom, whom she clearly finds much more refined and sensitive.
A. She resents Boylan’s coarseness.

B. The final passage of her monologue begins with a series of
negatives about Boylan and ends with her memory of passionately
saying yes to Bloom.

C. She remembers in particular his extraordinary sensitivity: “I saw
he understood or felt what a woman is.”

VIII. But the adulterous estrangement of the two leaves us with
Lmanswered questions about the future of their relationship

Supplementary Reading
Pearce, Molly Blooms.
Questions to Consider:
1. What do Molly and Bloom have in common?

2. Does Molly’s monologue tell you anything new about Bloom-
anything we have not already learned from Bloom himself?


Chapter 17. Part 2
Lecture Twenty-Two -- Return to Ithaca, II
(from "Joyce's Ulysses" by Professor James A.W. Hefferman of Dartmouth College)


This lecture treats the second half of the “Ithaca” chapter. After
Stephen leaves, Bloom’s thoughts turn to Molly, who waits for
him upstairs in bed. Even before Stephen’s departure, Molly
makes her presence felt when Bloom and Stephen step out into the
garden and see the moonlike light in the window of the room
where she sleeps. While Stephen now becomes the “centrifugal
departer,” Bloom is “the centripetal remainer,” seeking his center
in Molly. His journey to her bed is something of an ordeal.
Banging his head against a freshly moved sideboard as he enters
the front room, he finds signs of disorder resulting from Boylan’s
visit, and he strives to restore order, to reclaim his house. He also
fantasizes about owning a grand country house, fulfilling his
ambitions, and vanquishing his enemies. Yet fantasy will not
banish pain. He must grapple again with the painful memory of his
father’s suicide and the knowledge of what Boylan has done. He
must find a way to vanquish his own jealousy without taking
violent action against Boylan; he must somehow achieve
equanimity before at last rejoining Molly in bed, kissing the
“yellow smellow melons of her rump,” and ending his joumey in a
well-earned rest.


I. When Bloom and Stephen step out into the garden behind Bloom’s
house, they “become heavenly bodies, wanderers like the stars at which
they gaze.”
A. While explaining the constellations to Stephen, Bloom sees the stars as “ever moving Wanderers,” thereby echoing the poem of Yeats that Stephen sang to his mother, the poem ending with a lineabout “wandering stars.”
B. Looking at the light in the window of the room where Molly sleeps, Bloom meditates on “affinities” between moon and woman.
C. When Stephen leaves, he is the “centrifugal departer,” while Bloom is “the centripetal remainer,” seeking his center in Molly. 
II. Peeing beside Stephen in the garden, Bloom makes a bow reminiscent
of the one strung by Ulysses.
A. Though Stephen’s stream is higher, Bloom’s is longer
B. Bloom’s watery arch may signify that like the Ulysses who strung the mighty bow, he is about to vanquish his rival, reclaim his wife and retake possession of his house.

III. Reentering his house and going into the front room, Bloom bangs his
head against a rearranged sideboard and sees other evidence that
Boylan his been there. Like Ulysses, he finds that his house has been
usurped and strives to set it back in order.
A. Bumping his head against a walnut sideboard that has been pushed in front of the door, Bloom reenacts the moment when Ulysses--disguised as a beggar--feels the pain of a footstool thrown at him by a suitor.
B. Bloom sees that the sideboard has been shoved out of the way to make room for a piano, where Molly has evidently been singing “Love’s Old Sweet Song” for Boylan.
C. In addition to enduring the pain of these discoveries, Bloom tries to reorder his house.
1. Like Ulysses, who fumigates his palace alter slaughtering the suitors, Bloom lights a cone of incense to fumigate the front room.
2. He also rearranges the books that have been disarranged by Molly and that are elaborately catalogued here.
a. The catalogue tells us about Bloom’s reading habits.
b. But the act of reordering the books may be a way of evading the task of reordering his sex life with Molly

IV. After taking off his clothes in the front room to prepare himself for
bed, Bloom fantasizes about fulfilling his ambitions and vanquishing
his enemies.
A. He imagines a dream house in the country that is elaborately described--right down to the contents of the lumber shed.
B. He sees himself living there as a resident magistrate upholding the law against adulterers and rabidly anti-Semitic nationalists like the citizen. In other words, he seeks orderly retaliation against his enemies.
C. He imagines himself suddenly growing rich enough to afford such a house--not because he actually expects to be rich, but because such fantasies soothe him.
1. He knows that he will not live to satisfy all his desires or defeat all his enemies.
2. But in sleep, he can fulfill his wishes--such as his dream of the perfect ad--and achieve repose.
V. Exhaustively described, the contents of the drawers in the front room
confirm and amplify several things that we have come to know about
A. The contents of one drawer confirm that Bloom is sensual, furtively flirtatious, affectionate with Milly, preoccupied with his body, devoted to Hungary, and faithful to the memory of his parents--especially his father.
B. The second drawer tells us about Bloom’s assets and still more about his father--including the reason for his suicide.
1. Bloom owns 900 pounds worth of Canadian stock paying 4% a year--possibly bought with what he inherited from his father.
2. An envelope addressed “To My Dear Son Leopold” contains asuicide note in which the father reveals that he cannot bear to outlive his wife
3. Breaking the strict formal order of interrogation and response, “fractions of phrases” read from the suicide note express the anguish of a desolate man and recall Simon Dedalus breaking down at the grave of his wife in chapter 6.
4. Once again, Bloom is touched with guilt for disrespecting “certain beliefs and practices”--though he has no intention of returning to them
VI. After flirting with the idea of departing from home and wife for good
and traveling to the edge of the universe, Bloom imagines himself
returning “an estranged avenger.” He must now contend with the
undeniable fact that Boylan has entered the very bed that Bloom shares
with Molly.
A. Entering the bed, he finds the imprint of another male body.
B. Surprisingly enough, he may have smiled to realize that he was not the only one to enter that bed, but merely one of a series extending to infinity.
C. Though Bloom cannot easily kill his jealousy, which conjures up a whole series of would-be lovers for Molly, he achieves equanimity without taking violent revenge on Boylan.
1. He sees that adultery is not unnatural and far less reprehensible than many other offenses.
2. As a resolute pacifist, Bloom will have nothing to do with violence.
3. By conquering his own envy, jealousy, and sense of outrage, Bloom achieves equanimity--and, thus, a victory of his own
VII. Though both Molly and Bloom know that she has just committed
adultery with Boylan, the series of questions and answers that pass
between them make no reference to this act. Bloom happily kisses the
melons of Molly’s rump and asks no further satisfaction for now: “He
rests. He has traveled.” 

Supplementary Reading:
See the readings for Lecture Twenty-One
Questions to Consider:
1. Why does Joyce treat Stephen, Bloom, and Molly as if they were heavenly bodies?
2. Why does neither Molly nor Bloom mention the name of Boylan when they discuss the events of the day?


Chapter 17. Part 1
Lecture Twenty-one -- Return to Ithaca, I
(from "Joyce's Ulysses" by Professor James A.W. Hefferman of Dartmouth College)


This chapter reenacts what Ulysses does when he gets to his palace
in Ithaca, the island kingdom for which the chapter is named.
Because he knows the suitors would kill him on sight, he appears
disguised as a withered old beggar, suffers insults (such as a
footstool thrown at him), bides his time, and strings the great bow
that no one but Ulysses can string. With the help of Telemachus,
he then kills all the suitors and is reunited with his wife, Penelope.
In this chapter, which is written as a catechismal series of
questions and answers, Stephen and Bloom enter the Bloom house
“by a stratagem,” then sit down and talk until Stephen politely
declines Bloom’s invitation to spend the night. This first of two
lectures on chapter 17 treats Bloom’s interaction with Stephen up
to his departure; the second considers the final stage of his
journey, when he goes upstairs to join Molly in bed.


I. This chapter recalls-with considerable differences-Ulysses’s retum
to his palace in Ithaca.
A. Because the suitors would kill him on sight, Athene disguisesUlysses as a withered old beggar before he approaches his palace where he suffers indignities before vanquishing his enemies and rejoining Penelope.
1. Antinoos throws a footstool at him, striking the back of his right shoulder.
2. Biding his time, the would-be beggar strings the great bow that no one but Ulysses can string.
3. With the help of Telemachus, he kills all the suitors and is reunited with Penelope.
B. Entering his house “by a stratagem,” just as Ulysses used the stratagem of disguise, Bloom lets Stephen in, talks with him, and eventually makes his way to the bed of Molly.
1. Because Bloom has forgotten his key, he enters the house by jumping down to the unlocked basement door, then letting Stephen in.
2. After they drink cocoa and talk, Stephen politely declines Bloom’s invitation to spend the night. They step out into the garden and pee together, and Stephen leaves.
3. Entering the front room of his house, Bloom hits his head on a side board that has been moved for Boylan’s visit--just asUlysses is struck by a footstool thrown by one of the suitors.
4. Finding his way at last to the bed where Molly waits for him, he finds that Boylan has definitely occupied it that afternoon.
II. This lecture treats Bloom’s interaction with Stephen up to the point of
Stephen’s departure; the next lecture considers the final phase of
Bloom’s return to Molly.

III. In form, this is a chapter of scientifically detached inquisition, made of
nothing but questions and answers.
A. Rigorously didactic, it recalls the format of the Roman Catholic catechism or of nineteenth-century scientific textbooks.
B. It speaks with authority, exhaustively answering almost every question you might have about the characters in this book, especially Stephen and Bloom.
C. It offers a historical record of facts that neither a journalist nor a historian would think worthy of recording but that are none-the-less significant in this novel.
D. Peculiar as it may seem, this format enhances the universality of the novel and the central theme of the chapter: homecoming.
1. The simple act of turning a faucet prompts two enormous passages on the topic of water as a global phenomenon. We are reminded that in this novel, the implications of any one character or action can be made to spread out almost infinitely in space and time.
2. Homecoming typically involves questions and answers.
a. When Ulysses passes the test that Penelope gives him, he answers the questions she implicitly asks him: What do you know about our bed?
b. Likewise, Bloom’s return to Molly culminates in a “catechetical interrogation.” In response to her questions, he gives her an edited and somewhat fictionalized account of his day.
IV. In spite of the mechanical rigidity of the format, a sense of humanity
permeates the chapter and repeatedly breaks through the surface of its
scientific detachment.
A. In Bloom”s account of his day for Molly, his jumping down to the basement is playfully called an “aeronautical feat”--a phrase that conjures up visions of the mythical Dedalus, with Bloom now momentarily in flight.
B. When he discovers that he’s forgotten the key to his house, Bloom reveals once more his all too human frailty and prompts us to consider the human significance of keys.
1. Human forgetfulness sabotages Bloom’s mechanical habit of putting the key into his back pocket.
2. Like Bloom, Stephen has no key because Mulligan has taken it. The keylessness of both reminds us that each of them has seen his place usurped.
3. Bloom is also keyless in two other ways.
a. He hasn’t obtained a renewal of the ad for Keyes’s pub.
b. He has no phallic key for Molly. He has locked himself out of her body for more than ten years.
C. In making cocoa for Stephen and drinking this “mass product” with him, Bloom achieves a rare moment of communion.
1. Cocoa substitutes for the Eucharist.
2. This silent ritual contrasts significantly with Mulligan’s noisy black mass in chapter 1.
3. This is about as close as we get to the tearful embrace of Ulysses and Telemachus in the swineherd’s shelter.

V. Though Bloom would like to adopt Stephen and take charge of his life
Stephen declines even to spend the night.
A. Bloom has great plans for Stephen’s future.
1. He wants him to move in with the Blooms.
2. He thinks Stephen can take singing lessons from Molly while she learns Italian from him.
3. He might even end up marrying Milly, which would make him Bloom’s son-in-law.
B. Stephen declines all of these prospects--especially marriage to Milly--because they would entail the sacrifice of his literary ambitions.
VI. While Bloom and Stephen discover some common interests and
amicably exchange thoughts about their respective cultures, Bloom
finally plays Moses with Stephen, liberating him from the bondage of
domesticity in Bloom’s own household.
A. In a modest way, Bloom shares Stephen’s interest in literature.
B. After Stephen narrates for him The Parable of the Plums, both men explore their respective creeds and races in terms of language
C. Once again, Stephen not only sees Bloom as Jewish but also links him to Christ, whose human nature came from Jewish ancestors.
D. Like Moses liberating his people from bondage, Bloom leads Stephen out of his own house, liberating him from all the charms of domesticity that would suffocate his literary ambition.
1. Bloom knows that he cannot possess Stephen.
2. They do not bond as father and son, and we have no way of knowing whether they will ever meet again.
Supplementary Reading:
Kenner, pp. 134-45.
Litz, “Ithaca,” in Hart and Hayman, pp. 385-405

Questions to Consider
1. Why does Joyce furnish so much background information on his characters now--when we have nearly finished the book? Why didn’t he put it at the beginning of the novel, where we usually find what is called “exposition”?
2. How well does Bloom understand what Stephen wants?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Chapter 16
Lecture Twenty -- Eumaeus
(from "Joyce's Ulysses" by Professor James A.W. Hefferman of Dartmouth College)


This chapter takes its name from the kindly old swineherd in
Homer’s epic who graciously receives Ulysses just alter he reaches
Ithaca. Even though the swineherd takes him for a stranger
because he pretends to be one, Eumaeus treats him hospitably and
sincerely expresses his desire for Ulysses’s return. In Eumaeus’s
shelter, Ulysses and Telemachus are joyfully reunited. In chapter
16 of Ulysses, Eumaeus appears as the keeper of a cabman’s
shelter where Bloom and Stephen go to talk and refresh
themselves after Bloom guides Stephen out of Nighttown. In what
has been called a style of exhaustion--a language clotted with
newspapery clichés--the chapter explores the theme of return. A
sailor named D. B. Murphy, a would-be modern Ulysses, says he’s
heading home to his wife, and Bloom muses on the fantasy that the
long-dead Parnell might make a miraculous return of his own.
Meanwhile, Stephen and Bloom achieve fleeting moments of real
communication but more often stumble into misunderstanding--
especially when Bloom tries to play the role of a conventional


I. After picking up a drunken, half-conscious Stephen and guiding him
out of Nighttown, Bloom takes him to a cabman’s shelter, where the
two sit down and talk. Because they (and we) are by now exhausted,
this chapter is fittingly written in a style of exhaustion that recycles
clichés from the daily newspaper.
A. The familiar language of the daily paper runs in grooves of cliché.
1. Bloom sees himself writing a newspaper article about the shelter. Thinking he might write something “out of the common groove,” he unwittingly slides into a cliché. 
2. Having adopted styles far removed from the everyday style of the newspaper, Joyce parodies this style to show how quickly it can run out of steam.
B. The entire chapter speaks in a voice of exhaustion.
II. By showing us that newspapers are often unreliable and woefully
incomplete, this chapter helps us see anew why Stephen feels
compelled to reject joumalism in favor of literature.
A. Dignam’s obituary is both inaccurate and incomplete as a record of his funeral.
1. It is riddled with factual errors, such the misspelling of Bloom’s name. 
2. It fails to tell us many things about the funeral that we learn from chapter 6 of this novel, and of course, it fails to tell us anything of what Bloom thinks when he reads the obituary itself
B. When Bloom paternally advises Stephen to write for the newspapers, he echoes Myles Crawford, the newspaper editor,who is eager for Stephen to join his press gang. But this is clearly not what Stephen wants to do.
III. In the figure of D. B. Murphy, who claims to have sailed around the
world, Bloom seems suddenly confronted by a genuine Voyager worthy
of a newspaper article: the true modern counterpart of Homer’s
A. Claiming to have been “sailing about” for seven years, Murphy says his wife is waiting for him in Carrigaloe, on the south coast of Ireland. 
B. Unlike Bloom, who has scarcely ever set foot in a boat, Murphy tells tales of fabulous adventures at sea. 
C. In telling these stories, Murphy resembles Ulysses pseudangelos,the false messenger. Ulysses pretending to be a stranger from Crete when he meets Eumaeus.

IV. But just as the cabman differs from Eumaeus, so Murphy differs
radically from Ulysses, and this chapter tests our understanding of just
what makes Bloom fundamentally Ulyssean.
A. Aside from keeping a shelter where Stephen and Bloom talk, the cabman shares nothing with Homer’s kind-hearted Eumaeus. Heserves undrinkable coffee and inedible buns. 
B. Though Murphy tells fantastic tales about his travels, Bloom displays the shrewdness of Ulysses when he doubts the truth of the tales. 
C. Also, Bloom’s thoughts on the theme of the returning traveler help us see anew what makes Bloom fundamentally Ulyssean.
1. Murphy’s statement about the wife waiting for him makes Bloom think of sailors who came home to find their wives remarried--their places usurped. 
2. When the cabman speculates that the paper might one day report the return of Parnell, Bloom mentally reviews the whole history of Parnell’s affair with Kitty O’Shea in ways that let us see the links between Parnell and Ulysses and Bloom himself as victims of usurpation. 

a. Superficially, Parnell was himself an adulterous usurper who displaced the husband of Kitty O’Shea and, thus, played the role of Blazes Boylan--hardly a man Bloom admires.
b. But Bloom sees Parnell as a man victimized by the “siren charms” of an English woman, detained, as Ulysses was, by seductive femininity in the course of his travels.
c. Also, Bloom sees Parnell as a man politically usurped by members of his own party, who deserted and betrayed him, making his return to Ireland disastrous.
V. Though Bloom shrewdly observes that Stephen too has been victimized
by desertion, Bloom’s well-meaning fatherly advice to him falls on
deaf ears.
A. In place of the great recognition scene between Ulysses and Telemachus, Stephen and Bloom have fleeting moments of understanding.
1. At the beginning of the chapter, for instance, Bloom’s mention of the friend who deserted Stephen in Nighttown clearly strikes a sensitive nerve. 
2. Like Bloom, Stephen knows what it means to be deserted
B. But more often they misunderstand each other.
1. As a lover of food, Bloom is dumbfounded to learn that Stephen has had no dinner for more than 24 hours. 
2. Having no idea of what Boylan means to Bloom, Stephen asks Bloom to seek Boylan’s help on behalf of a deadbeat. 
3. Bloom misunderstands what Stephen means by the word “simple” as applied to the soul. 
4. Bloom ardently urges Stephen to become a singer, blithely assuring him that the pursuit of a singing career would still leave him “heaps of time to practice literature in his sparetime.”
VI. for all their misunderstandings, the two men sometimes do achieve
A. Recalling his argument with the citizen, Bloom reports he told the citizen that “Christ was a jew . . . like me, though in reality l’mnot.”
1. Though not a practitioner of Judaism, he has identified himself with the Jewish people--as the heir to Judaism through his father. 
2. Stephen recalls that Christ was likewise “from” the Jews in his heritage.
B. Sitting in the cabman’s shelter, Bloom finds at last a sympathetic listener, and in return, he offers something like paternal support--especially when he invites Stephen to “lean on me” as they leave the shelter.
Supplementary Reading:
Bruns, “Eumaeus,” in Hart and Hayman, pp. 363-83 
Lawrence, Odyssey of Style.
Questions to Consider:
1. When he tells Stephen about his argument with the citizen, what does Bloom hope to get from Stephen? 
2. If Pamell was a notorious adulterer, why does Bloom admire him--or feel any kinship with him?