Lecture Eight -- A Bag of Winds
(from "Joyce's Ulysses" by Professor James A.W. Hefferman of Dartmouth College)
This chapter is called “Aeolus” because it evokes Ulysses’s visit to
the island of Aeolus, the king of winds in The Odyssey, In this
chapter, the counterpart of the king of winds is Myles Crawford,
hot-tempered editor of a Dublin newspaper called the Evening
Telegraph. This chapter brings Bloom and Stephen together for the
second time-fleetingly. Stephen comes to deliver Deasy’s letter
to the editor, and because Bloom works for the paper as a salesman
of advertising space, he comes to the newspaper office to ask
Crawford’s help in securing the renewal of an ad for a pub owner,
but is blown away by Crawford’s dismissive response. Wind in
this chapter takes the form of talk, especially speechmaking, and
three samples of it are held up as models for Stephen, the aspiring
writer, who produces his own bit of speechmaking at the end in the
form of a Dublin story. He thus struggles to find his own voice as
a writer in the face of pressures to join the “pressgang” of
I. This chapter brings both Stephen and Bloom to the central Dublin
offices of a newspaper, the Evening Telegraph.
A. Bloom comes eastward from the cemetery (northwest of thecenter) to do his job at the newspaper: selling advertising space.
B. Stephen comes to the office to deliver Deasy’s letter about hoof-and- mouth disease so that it can be published in the EveningTelegraph.
II. In passing each other on the stairs~almost like a pair of windblown
leaves-Stephen and Bloom help to show how the chapter reenacts
Ulysses’s sojourn with Aeolus, the king of winds.
A. Ulysses’s sojourn with the god of winds leads to yet anothersetback in his voyage home.
1. Aeolus, king of winds, gives Ulysses a bag of winds so that nowind will blow him off course.
2. When his men open the bag just as they are approachingIthaca, the winds blow them away-right back to Aeolus.
3. The king sends them angrily away.B. The counterpart of Aeolus in this chapter is Myles Crawford,
editor of the Evening Telegraph.
1. Crawford at first sends Bloom off to secure the renewal of anad for a pub.
2. When Bloom returns to ask Crawford’s help in closing thedeal for a renewal, Crawford blows him away. Like Ulysses,Bloom is blown off course just as he’s about to reach his goal
III. Bloom’s failure to secure the renewal exemplifies a general sense of
A. Bloom fails to collect on a loan from Hynes.
B. The chapter ends with electric tramcars immobilized by a powerfailure.
C. Bloom and Stephen pass each other on the stairs but don’t meet.
IV. Bloom’s thoughts about Stephen’s boots reveal patemal solicitude.
A. The muck on Stephen’s boots remind us that he’s been walking onthe beach.
B. The muck suggests to Bloom that Stephen is careless.
C. Bloom suspects that Stephen is the “moving spirit” behind a
general migration of Crawford and the other men to the pub.
1. He begins to see that Stephen may be fated to sink intoalcoholism, like his father.
2. Though the phrase “moving spirit” can refer to creativeinspiration, it’s ironic here because it alludes to spirits-theliquor at the pub.
V. The chapter shows that newspapers tend to grind up inspiration and
individuality in the machinery of journalism.
A. The impersonal, official tone of the headline for the Dignamobituary sharply contrasts with the personal tone of Bloom’s silentthoughts about the funeral.
1. The headline speaks the language of official regret.
2. Bloom thinks about what he actually felt and saw-includingthe rat.
3. He also notes the crushing power of machines, which grind upthe individuality of the dead man.B. The headlines interspersed throughout the chapter break the flow
of the narrative and show how arbitrary headlines can be.
1. Joyce added the headlines after he wrote the chapter.
2. They remind us that we are in a newspaper office and thatnewspapers are an essential part of daily life.
3. They show how arbitrary headlines can be--as in the whollyirrelevant headline for the passage introducing Crawford, theking of winds in this chapter-a major character.
VI. In addition to revealing the arbitrariness and rigidity of newspapers, the chapter also mounts a critique of the windy art of speechmaking.
A. The chapter shows how each of three kinds of speechmaking fails.
B. The third example of speechmaking sounds like a moving defense
of a people’s right to their own language and culture.
1. In the speech quoted, a man named Taylor defends the revivalof the Irish language against one of its haughty Anglophiliccritics.
2. Drawing an analogy between the Irish and the ancient Jews,Taylor imagines a high priest telling Moses that the Jewsshould accept the language and culture of the Egyptians ratherthan clinging to their own language.
3. Then he declares that if Moses had bowed to the Egyptians, hewould never have led the chosen people out of bondage.C. But the message of the speech is undermined by irony.
1. Though made to defend the Irish tongue, the speech is givenin English.
2. The sentimental twinning of the Irish and the Jews isundermined by the anti-Semitism of the Irish.
a. Deasy denounces the Jews in chapter 2.
b. Bloom feels subtle forms of exclusion in chapter 6.
c. In this chapter, Bloom gets open contempt from the editor when he tries to secure the renewal of an ad.
VII. Silently dismissing the “noble” speeches as nothing more than wind
and resisting the pressure to join the pressgang, Stephen begins to find
his own voice in the “parable of the plums,” which he tells at the end of
A. He dares to write of “Dubliners,” which became the title of JamesJoyce’s first book of fiction.
B. In saying, “let there be life,” Stephan echoes the Book 0fG€H€S1S
and recalls Bloom’s return to the world of the living at the end of
the previous chapter-another link between the two men.
C. The story about the two women climbing to the top of Nelson's
pillar links the Old and New Testaments in a parable about politics
1. Its two titles link the story to the two biblical testaments.
a. A Pisgah Sight of Paradise recalls the mountain fromwhich God showed Moses the Promised Land that hecould not enter-yet another example of hope frustration.
b. Parable of the Plums links the story to Christ, whopreached by way of parables.2. Stephen takes the theme of promise from the Old Testamentand the theme of salvation from the New Testament andworks them into a bawdy parable about the frustration ofIreland’s yearning for independence.
a. Nelson’s pillar commemorates a British naval hero whowas also a one-armed adulterer.
b. The old virgins seemed to be titillated by this“one handled adulterer.”
c. Hence, the parable suggests that Ireland has long sincelost its virginity to English power.
VIII. This is a chapter of frustrated expectations and windy
speechmaking -- against which Stephen strives to find his own voice.
Attidge, “Aeolus’ without Wind,” in Beja and Norris, pp. 179-201.
Questions to Consider:
1. Why is the headline “O, HARP EOLIAN” Used to introduce a passage
in which Professor MacHugh twangs a piece of dental floss between
2, Compare the reception that Stephen gets tom the other men in this
chapter with the ways in which they respond to Bloom.