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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Summary

Ulysses Episode 1: Telemachus Summary Page 1

  • At the top of Martello Tower, we find "Stately, plump Buck Mulligan" wandering about in his bathrobe shaving (1.1).
  • He begins to mockingly imitate the Roman mass, using his shaving bowl as a chalice, and then calls down to Stephen Dedalus (the same Stephen Dedalus from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man).
  • Dedalus listens to Mulligan mock the mass, and Mulligan notes the absurdity of Dedalus's last name, which comes from the Ancient Greek. (Note: according to Greek mythology, Daedalus was the engineer who built the Labyrinth and then built wax wings to allow him and his son, Icarus, to escape from the island of Crete. He warned Icarus not to fly too close to the sun or to the sea, but Icarus in his exuberance, flew too close to the sun, melted his wax wings and perished in the sea.)
  • Mulligan descends toward Stephen and notes the origin of his nickname, Malachi Mulligan, and says that the two of them should go to Athens if he can get his aunt to fork over twenty quid (slang for British currency, one quid is equivalent to one pound).
  • Stephen asks how long Haines (an Englishman) is going to stay in Martello Tower with them.
  • Mulligan notes that Haines is dreadful, and complains that Haines does not think Stephen is a gentleman. We get a first glimpse into Mulligan's ability to play people off against one another.
  • We learn Haines was up all night raving in a dream about a black panther. Stephen says that he was frightened by it. He says either Haines goes or he will.
  • Shaving all the while, Mulligan frowns in response to this, and then borrows Stephen's handkerchief to wipe his razor.
  • Mulligan says, "The bard's noserag. A new art colour for our Irish poets: snotgreen. You can almost taste it, can't you?" (1.35).
  • Looking out on the Dublin Bay, Mulligan admires the "snot green sea" and intones it in Greek. He tells Stephen to come look at it and Stephen joins him (warily).
  • After calling the sea "our mighty mother," Mulligan tells Stephen that his aunt (Mulligan's) thinks that Stephen killed his mother.
  • We learn that Stephen refused to kneel down at his mother's deathbed and pray even when she begged him to. Mulligan thinks there is something sinister in Stephen.
  • Mulligan returns to shaving and admits that, either way, Stephen is a lovely mummer (masked comedic actor; basically Mulligan is giving a nod to Stephen's literary genius).
  • Stephen rests his elbow on the top of Martello Tower. He thinks of a repeated dream he's been having where his mother came up out of her coffin to haunt him.
  • Mulligan says that he must give him a shirt and a few noserags, and asks how his second-hand trousers are doing. Mulligan mentions another pair of trousers he has, which are grey, but Stephen says he won't wear grey (he's wearing black because he's in mourning – we will later find that Leopold Bloom is also wearing black).
  • So let's get this straight, Mulligan says. Stephen refused to pray over his dying mother but insists that he won't wear grey trousers.
  • Buck Mulligan says that a fellow he was with the night before suggested that Stephen might have general paralysis of the insane. Mulligan admires himself in the mirror and continues to tease Stephen.
  • At this point, we have what is perhaps one of the most important stylistic turning point in Ulysses (making it one of the most important stylistic turning points in the history of literature).
  • Without any forewarning, we dive straight into Stephen's inner thoughts. His thoughts are un-bracketed, and the style aims to capture the twists and turns of his mind. In other words, let the stream-of-consciousness begin (1.60).
  • Stephen thinks about how people can't choose the faces they are given. He wonders how Mulligan and others see him (You might think for a moment about the fact that this is the first "inner thought" of Stephen's to which we are exposed).
  • Mulligan says that he stole the mirror he's currently using from a servant's room. He laughs at how his mother (Mulligan's) keeps plain looking servants so as not to tempt him.
  • Upon seeing Stephen's gloomy expression, Mulligan quotes Wilde about "the rage of Caliban at not seeing his face in a mirror" (1.63). Note that Wilde was playing with Caliban's rage at seeing his face in the mirror in Shakespeare's The Tempest. The point is that there's a big disconnect between how we imagine our faces and how they actually look to other people.
  • Stephen retorts that the mirror "is a symbol of Irish art. The cracked lookingglass of a servant" (1.65).
  • Mulligan links arms with Stephen and begins walking him around the top of the tower. He apologizes for teasing Stephen, and Stephen thinks that Mulligan is afraid of what he might say about him in his writing later (ironic since Joyce is mocking a real friend of his through the character of Mulligan).
  • Mulligan says that he must tell Haines Stephen's quote. He thinks that he and Stephen could do something for Ireland, "Hellenise it" (1.69). In other words, the two of them need to make Ireland more Greek and more educated.
  • Mulligan worries that Stephen has some problem with him, and says that if it has something to do with Haines he has no problem mocking him as if he were a pathetic schoolboy.
  • Stephen thinks of how all of the Englishman made vicious fun of a schoolboy named Clive and tried to 'pants' him.
  • A shout from the open window jerks Stephen's thoughts back to the present, and he sees a deaf gardener staring out at the wind-swept grass.
  • Stephen thinks that there might be a "new paganism," "omphalos" (Greek word for umbilical cord) (1.74).
  • Stephen says that Mulligan should let Haines stay, that he has no problem with him except at night.
  • Mulligan presses Stephen to tell him what's bothering him. Looking out at the sea, Stephen unlinks his arm from Mulligan's without saying anything.
  • Mulligan again presses him, and Stephen asks him if he remembers the time that Stephen came to Mulligan's house after Stephen's mother had died.
  • Mulligan does not remember it clearly, and so Stephen reminds him. He describes the scene in great detail to show how clearly he remembers it.
  • Mulligan and Mulligan's mother were together, and when Stephen entered the room, Mulligan said, "O, it's only Dedalus whose mother is beastly dead" (1.87).
  • Mulligan blushes, but then begins to rationalize what he said.
  • He claims that Stephen has only had one brush encounter with death whereas he sees it everyday at the hospital where he works, and that it truly is beastly. He then points out the hypocrisy of Stephen not kneeling at his mother's bed, and yet harping on Mulligan for disrespecting her.
  • Stephen thinks that Mulligan has spoken himself into boldness, and then says that it was not the offence to his mother that concerned him. It is the offence to him.
  • Mulligan scoffs, spins round, and calls Stephen an impossible person.
  • Mulligan walks off, and Stephen steams.
  • Haines calls up for Mulligan, who answers that he is coming. Mulligan tells Stephen to look at the sea and ponder on how insignificant Mulligan's offence was. He then tells him to come down into the tower with him.
  • As Mulligan descends the stairs, he begins singing some lines of the poet W.B. Yeats. Stephen looks out at the sea, and as a cloud comes over it, his memory again goes back to his mother. He was in the other room singing the lines of Yeats, and she wanted to hear them, and he entered to find her crying in her bed.
  • He wonders where she is now, and then recalls one after another the tiny secret details of her life, culminating in "Her shapely fingernails reddened by the blood of squashed lice from the children's shirts" (1.110).
  • Stephen again recalls the ghost of his mother coming to haunt him and curse him, and silently prays for her to "Let me be and let me live" (1.115).
  • Buck Mulligan calls up to Stephen, and says that Haines is trying to apologize for keeping them up all night. Buck Mulligan says that he told Haines about Stephen's symbol of Irish art (the cracked looking-glass of the servant). Haines thought it was clever, and Mulligan suggests Stephen try to get a guinea (British currency) out of Haines.
  • Stephen tells Mulligan that he gets paid this morning, and Buck Mulligan asks if he can lend him and Haines a quid (again, British slang for currency). Stephen agrees, and Mulligan becomes merry at the thought of "four shining sovereigns" (1.125).
  • Buck Mulligan has left his bowl of shaving lather up on the parapet (wall-like barrier running around the roof) of the Tower, and it makes Stephen think of how he used to carry the bowl of incense when he was a schoolboy at Clongowes.
  • Mulligan moves about downstairs. He is frying something, and as the stench fills the tower, he is worried that they will all be choked. He asks Haines to open the door.
  • Haines gets up out of his hammock, and asks Stephen for the key. Stephen tells him it's in the lock.
  • Haines open the door and stands in the doorway. Buck Mulligan tells them to get to the table, and begins to serve them tea.
  • Mulligan is bummed out that there's no milk, and curses the milk woman. Stephen says they can drink it black. He gets a lemon out of the locker they all share.
  • Buck Mulligan pokes fun at how Stephen has picked up Paris fads, and claims that he wants milk from Sandycove.
  • Haines, still in the doorway, announces that the woman is coming up the hill with the milk. Mulligan is ecstatic, and tells them to help themselves to breakfast as he prepares to meet the milk woman, again intoning lines from the Catholic mass.
  • Haines sits down to pour the tea, and Mulligan jokes about how strong he has made the tea in an old woman's voice.
  • Buck Mulligan serves Haines and Stephen bread, and claims that the old woman's voice (Mrs. Cahill) is an example of Irish folk that Haines can use for a book that he is putting together.
  • Buck Mulligan asks Stephen about mother Grogan's tea (old woman who recurs in Irish literature). Stephen demonstrates his knowledge of the tales where she appears, and Buck Mulligan is delighted.
  • Buck Mulligan begins singing a bawdy old Irish song to his loaf of bread.
  • The milk woman enters.
  • Mulligan greets her, and subtly mocks her in high language when she says "Glory be to God" (1.167).
  • Stephen asks for a quart, and as she pours it into their milk jug, he thinks of her as an old woman, perhaps nursing a cow, at once an example of womankind and of the provincial Irish woman (Interesting question here: is Stephen sympathizing with this woman or just idealizing her?).
  • Buck Mulligan tastes the milk.
  • He praises it and says it would uplift their country if they could have food like that.
  • The woman (noticing his fancy vocabulary) asks if he is a medical student, and Buck Mulligan acknowledges that he is.
  • Stephen listens in scornful silence. He is scornful because the woman does not notice how Buck Mulligan pokes fun at her, but he is also scornful because she seems to respect Buck Mulligan and Haines while she ignores him (Stephen).
  • Haines says something in Irish, and the woman thinks that he is speaking in French. Buck Mulligan tells her that it is Gaelic, and asks if she speaks any.
  • She asks Haines if he is from the west of Ireland, and he says that he is an Englishman. Buck Mulligan laughs at the fact that Haines is an Englishman but that Haines thinks they should speak Irish in Ireland.
  • The woman agrees with Haines, and says she is ashamed that she doesn't speak it herself. Both she and Buck Mulligan wonder at what a great language Irish is, and Buck Mulligan offers her a cup of tea.
  • She says "no thank you sir" and begins to leave.
  • Haines asks if she has the bill, and she counts out how much it would be aloud. Mulligan digs in his pockets, and gives her a florin (Irish two-shilling coin). They arrange to pay the rest on credit, and the woman assures them that there is time enough.
  • As the milk woman leaves, Buck Mulligan intones a few lines from Swinburne's "The Oblation." He then turns quickly to Stephen and tells him to get to school and bring them back some money so they can go on a drinking binge.
  • Haines is reminded that he has to visit the national library today, but Mulligan says they must go for their swim first. He jokes that Stephen only washes once a month, and calls him "the unclean bard" (1.217).
  • Stephen, pouring honey over his toast, says that all Ireland is washed by the gulf-stream.
  • Haines tells Stephen that he would like to make a collection of his sayings, and Stephen thinks of his own personal remorse (still about his mother). Haines says he particularly admires the one saying about the lookingglass.
  • Buck Mulligan kicks Stephen under the table, and tells Haines that he should hear Stephen's theory of Hamlet.
  • Haines says that he is serious, and Stephen asks if he could make money by it. Haines laughs, and says he probably would.
  • As Haines heads out the door, Buck Mulligan scolds Stephen for being impolite to Haines. Stephen calmly says that they're trying to get money so why not ask for it.
  • Buck Mulligan says that he is doing all the work, and Stephen is always acting like a gloomy Jesuit.
  • Then Buck Mulligan begins to agree with Stephen (perhaps just to please him) and wonders what Englishmen are good for. He just wants to Stephen to play along with them as he does.
  • Buck Mulligan stands up and disrobes.
  • He empties his pockets on the table, and returns Stephen's snotrag.
  • Stephen thinks while Mulligan talks to all the clothes that he takes out of his trunk. He tosses Stephen his Latin Quarter hat, and Stephen puts it on.
  • Haines calls to see if they're coming. Stephen places the key in his pocket as they head out the door (Keep an eye on this key. It's going to become a matter of contention between Stephen and Buck Mulligan.).
  • Mulligan asks if Stephen has the key, and Stephen says that he does.
  • Haines asks if Mulligan pays the rent for the Tower, and Mulligan tells him how much it is.
  • Stephen notes that they pay it to the secretary of state for war.
  • Haines surveys the Tower, and says that it must be bleak in winter. Mulligan tells him a bit about its history, and says that for them it is "omphalos," the navel of the world (1.262).
  • Haines asks about Stephen's idea of Hamlet, but Mulligan stops him. He says that he can't keep up with Stephen until he has a few pints in him (We're beginning to get an image of Buck Mulligan as one who "picks Stephen's brains." He makes fun of him and yet he's constantly competing with him).
  • Mulligan asks Stephen if he could manage to deliver the theory under a couple of pints. Stephen says that since he's waited so long to tell it, he can always waits longer.
  • Haines says his curiosity is piqued, and wonders if it has to do with a paradox. Mulligan pooh poohs the idea, and says that they have moved far beyond Oscar Wilde and his simple paradoxes. He claims that Stephen can prove "by algebra that Hamlet's grandson is Shakespeare's grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father" (1.268). Note that Mulligan is having a joke at Haines's expense.
  • Haines is confused, and thinks that Buck Mulligan is referring to Stephen himself being the ghost of his father (As we'll see later, this confusion actually plays a part in Stephen's theory).
  • Buck Mulligan slings his towel over his shoulder. He gets a big kick out of the misunderstanding, and thinks of Stephen as the youngest son of Noah, Japhet, looking for his father.
  • Stephen tells Haines that they're always tired in the morning, and that the tale takes a long time to tell.
  • Buck Mulligan raises his hands like a priest and says that only the sacred pint can unbind the tongue of Dedalus.
  • Haines says that the Tower and hills remind him of the court in Shakespeare's Hamlet, Elsinore.
  • Buck Mulligan turns to Stephen, but Stephen sees an image of himself mourning instead.
  • Haines says that it is a wonderful tale.
  • Stephen looks out on the sea and thinks while Haines says that he read a theological interpretation of Hamlet somewhere that involved the Son trying to be atoned by the Father.
  • Mulligan smiles broadly, and looking up at them, begins to sing a bawdy song he has made up called "The Ballad of the Joking Jesus."
  • Buck Mulligan tugs at Stephen's ashplant as he heads toward a cliff hanging over the sea. A showboat always, he flutters his hands, and as he reaches the end of his Ballad, he dives into the sea. Stephen thinks of the Greek messenger, Mercury.
  • Haines laughs guardedly, and says to Stephen that they probably shouldn't laugh since Mulligan is so blasphemous. He says that somehow Mulligan's cheerfulness takes all the harm out of it.
  • Stephen tells him that he has heard Buck Mulligan's song many times before.
  • Haines asks if Stephen is a believer in the narrow sense of the word.
  • Stephen gives the terse reply, "There's only one sense of the word, it seems to me" (1.290).
  • Haines offers Stephen a cigarette and he takes it.
  • Haines agrees with Stephen. He says that he could never go in for a personal God, and wonders if Stephen feels the same way.
  • Stephen says, "You behold in me a horrible example of free thought" (1.295).
  • Stephen walks on and waits for Haines to say something. He thinks of how they try to treat him familiarly, but also abuse him. He guesses that Haines wants to get the key to Martello Tower from him even though it is Stephen who pays the rent.
  • Haines begins to say something, and Stephen turns. As he looks at Haines's, he realizes that his gaze is not unkind.
  • Haines supposes that Stephen should be able to free himself since he is his own master.
  • Stephen replies that he is the servant of two masters: the English and the Italian.
  • Haines doesn't get it so Stephen spells it out for him, and notes that there is a third master, who calls on him for odd jobs. He says that he is servant of the imperial British state as well as the holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church.
  • Haines says he can understand how Stephen feels this way. He says that British people think they've treated the Irish rather unfairly, but that, in the end, "history is to blame" (1.307).
  • (We'll get into this later in the analysis, but note that this is a way of ducking responsibility for the effects of English colonization.)
  • Stephen thinks to himself that Haines's comment is religious heresy, and recalls a number of famous heresiarchs (those who committed heresy against the church) throughout Church history.
  • Haines goes on talking and says that their main national problem is that they feel their country is falling into the hands of German Jews (The first spark of anti-Semitism in the story; we'll see many more).
  • A business-man and a boatman stand on the verge of a cliff and watch Haines and Stephen.
  • The business-man notes a boat making for Bullock harbour, and the boatman says that it will get swept up that way when the tide comes in. He says it's nine days since a man was drowned.
  • Stephen thinks of a man that was drowned, and imagines the body surfacing.
  • They follow the path to a creek where Buck Mulligan is standing on a stone in shirtsleeves with his tie over his shoulder. There is a young man in the water nearby who asks how Buck Mulligan's brother is doing.
  • Buck Mulligan says that he's down staying with the Bannons. They discus how one of the Bannons has gotten together with a young photo girl. (We'll come find that the girl is Milly Bloom.)
  • Buck Mulligan begins to unlace his boots, and an elderly man appears coming up the rock face.
  • Mulligan crosses himself as the man scrambles past. He acts as if the old man reminds him of Jesus.
  • The young man says that someone named Seymour is back in town. He says that Seymour has given up medicine and is going in for the army.
  • Buck Mulligan doesn't believe it, and the man confirms it, saying that Seymour has gotten together with a girl named Lily, whose father is very wealthy. Buck Mulligan asks if Lily is pregnant, and the young man says he should ask Seymour. Buck Mulligan still can't believe Seymour's going into the army.
  • As he takes off his trousers, he notes that redheaded women like goats.
  • Buck Mulligan feels his side, and jokes that his twelfth rib is gone (like Adam from the Bible), and concludes that he and Stephen are like Nietzsche's supermen. (Note: Nietzsche imagines that the supermen are the few great men at the end of history that will advance humanity while the rest of us will remain average dopes.)
  • Buck Mulligan gets out of his shirt and throws it behind him where his clothes are.
  • The young man asks if he is getting in, and Buck Mulligan tells him to make room. Buck Mulligan asks if Haines and Stephen are coming in. Haines says maybe later, and Stephen says that he's leaving.
  • Buck Mulligan asks if he can have the key (like Stephen knew he would), and claims it would be to keep his shirt flat.
  • Stephen gives him the key, and then Buck Mulligan asks for money for a pint, which Stephen also gives him. (The image of Buck Mulligan as a user is becoming abundantly clear.)
  • Buck Mulligan again intones Nietzsche and jokingly intones the lines "He who stealeth from the poor lendeth to the Lord" (1.347).
  • He plunges into the water.
  • Haines says that they'll see him again, and Stephen thinks of an old proverb that tells him to beware of Englishmen.
  • Mulligan cries that they will meet at "half twelve" (or 12:30) at the Ship (bar in Dublin), and Stephen says that sounds good.
  • Stephen walks up the upward curving path, and thinks of some Latin lines from the mass, as he did earlier.
  • Stephen thinks that he will not sleep at Martello tonight, but he also cannot go home.
  • He hears Haines calling to him, and looks at him waving. Stephen then looks farther out where he sees the sleek brown head of a seal, and he thinks to himself, "Usurper" (1.356).

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