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Alright, a couple preliminaries before we give you another episode summary. First, read this episode.
Not that you wouldn't, of course, but in our opinion "Ithaca" is about the most remarkable episode in a book of remarkable episodes.
Second, "Ithaca" is written in the form of a Catholic catechism, meaning that it's written as a series of 309 questions and responses.
We'll try to capture this general flavor as we give you an overview of events, but keep in mind that everything narrated is filtered through the cathetical (book giving the basic principles of Catholic doctrine through a series of questions and answers) form. And now we'll begin…
It's 2am as Bloom and Stephen make their way from the cabmen's shelter to Bloom's house at 7 Eccles Street. Their path is recounted in detail.
Along the way, Stephen and Bloom discuss a number of subjects including music, literature, Dublin, women, diet, the Roman Catholic Church, the study of medicine, the past day, etc.
Bloom finds that they both prefer music to other arts, that they both prefer a continental to an insular life (get out of Dublin and see the world, man), and that they both don't believe in most orthodox religions.
It's not all hunky-dory though. Stephen disagrees with Bloom's emphasis on the importance of diet, and Bloom disagrees with Stephen's views on "the eternal affirmation of the spirit of man in literature" (17.4). Neither of them thinks electric light has any effect on the growth of paraheliotropic (trees whose leaves turn toward the light).
The narrator recounts a number of similar late night discussions Bloom has had with other Dublin men and women.
As they approach the house, Bloom thinks that the more developed and experienced you become as an individual, the less developed and experienced you become in interpersonal relations. (One way to think of it: the more time you spend inside reading books and learning about the world the less time you spend in the world.)
He thinks about birth and death as an opening of nonexistence into existence and then a closing back into nonexistence again.
At the door, Bloom reaches into his pocket but realizes that he doesn't have his key. (He left it in his trousers from the day before.) Bloom decides to climb over his fence and lower himself down to the basement door. (In Dublin, you'll notice that a lot of townhouses have a sort of gutter that the front steps go over and down in that gutter is usually a basement door.)
As Bloom falls a short distance, the narrator gives his body size in detail. Bloom is uninjured, and he enters the house through the basement (where the kitchen is), lights a candle, takes off his boots, and goes up a few steps to meet Stephen at the door. Stephen watches all this from outside.
They enter quietly and pass down to the kitchen where Bloom blows out his candle and prepares a fire. Stephen thinks of other people that have made fires for him, including his mother and father. He observes some handkerchiefs and pantyhose hanging over the fire to dry.
Bloom goes to the sink with a kettle and fills it with water. The narrator recounts the flow of the water from its initial place in Roundwood reservoir to Bloom's kettle in great detail.
All of the reasons that Bloom loves water are listed. They include (but are not limited to): "its democratic equality and constancy to its nature in seeking its own level" (17.25); the way it can be used for transport; the fact that it makes up 90% of the human body; its buoyancy in the Dead Sea (which is so salty that you just float in it), and the fact that it can change into vapour, mist, cloud, rain, sleet, etc.
Bloom puts the kettle over the fire and goes to wash his hands with the bar of lemon soap he's been carrying around all day.
He asks if Stephen wants to wash his hands, but Stephen says he's a hydrophobe (i.e., afraid of water). Bloom suppresses the desire to comment on Stephen's bad hygiene and his dietary habits.
Bloom notes that Stephen possesses great confidence in himself. He thinks that Stephen seems both abandoned and to be in the act of recuperating.
The water boils over on the fire, and it is described in precise scientific terms. The narrator notes that Bloom might have used the water to shave himself (though he's going to make cocoa) and lists all the benefits of shaving late at night in playful rhyming prose.
Bloom isn't bothered by darkness because he's very sure of his sense of touch. The narrator says that Bloom could have surgeon's hands, but that he doesn't like shedding blood.
As Bloom opens the cabinet, the contents are described in great detail. He notices Boylan's two betting tickets sitting on Molly's apron, (remember Boylan lost betting on Sceptre; this is the first sign that Boylan and Molly make little effort to hide their adultery).
Bloom thinks about the Gold Cup race and the ways in which truth is indeed stranger than fiction. All the places Bloom got news of the race throughout the day are listed.
Bloom thinks how difficult it is to interpret something because as soon as it occurs, the seeming significance of it follows a second later (the way thunder follows right on the heels of lightning).
Bloom's mood is described: "He had not risked, he did not expect, he had not been disappointed, he was satisfied" (17.43).
Bloom is emotionally sustained by the fact that he hasn't really lost anything, and that he was able to help Stephen.
He prepares cocoa for the two of them. He decides not to use his favorite cup so as to have one like Stephen, and he uses cream that is usually reserved for Molly.
Bloom jokingly points out his hospitality to Stephen, but Stephen seems to take it seriously.
Bloom considers other kindnesses he could offer Stephen (e.g. fixing his jacket), but decides to wait for some other time. He begins drinking his cocoa as he prepares it, and thus finishes more quickly than Stephen.
Bloom thinks about times that he has read literature in order to instruct him in his life. He remembers that he could only derive impersonal convictions from the text.
The (pretty shoddy) end of a poem that Bloom submitted to the Shamrock (a local magazine) is offered.
Bloom thinks that he is separated from Stephen in four main respects: name, age, race, and creed.
All the anagrams Bloom made with his name when he was young are listed. A poem Bloom wrote for Molly where each line began with a letter of his nickname (POLDY; this is called an "acrostic") is recounted.
At one time, Bloom planned on completing a topical song on the events of the past. All the distractions that prevented him from doing so are listed.
The relationship between Bloom's and Stephen's ages (22 and 38) are described in a variety of ways.
Some reasons this relationship would change are listed: "the cessation of existence of both or either, the inauguration of a new era or calendar, the annihilation of the world and consequent extermination of the human species, inevitable but impredictable" (17.59).
There were two times when Stephen and Bloom met before, first when Stephen was five and then when he was ten. The second time Stephen invited Bloom to dinner, but Bloom politely declined.
Stephen and Bloom realize that they both knew a Mrs. Riordan. Bloom recounts taking her for strolls in her wheelchair and letting her observe the events of the street. Bloom was patient because he himself was an observer. They contrast their different memories of her.
Talking of his youth has made Bloom think of his body as a young man. It is suggested that Sandow's exercises would allow him to regain it. Bloom used to be good at one particular movement on the parallel bars because of his strong abdominal muscles, but he was otherwise unathletic.
Neither Bloom nor Stephen allude to their racial difference. Bloom thinks that Stephen knows he is a Jew whereas he knows that Stephen is not.
Their respective parentages are listed along with the different times that each of them were baptized. Bloom only finished high school whereas Stephen went on to royal university.
Bloom fails to mention his lack of education because he can't remember if they already discussed it.
It is noted that Bloom is of a scientific temperament whereas Stephen is artistic. Bloom recounts a number of inventions he came up with when he was younger, among them a number of toys for children (such as globemap playingballs and historically costumed dolls).
Bloom thinks of the success of other local inventors, and of the persuasive powers of a marketing man (which is what Bloom is).
He remembers ads he has come up with, and then thinks of other gimmicky ads that did not work well. He recalls the ad for Plumtree's Potted Meat (which again alludes to Boylan's presence in the house).
Bloom tells Stephen about an idea he had for a showcart in which two women would sit inside writing. Stephen recounts a scene where a woman comes in and repeatedly writes Queen's Hotel on a piece of paper.
This makes Bloom think of the fact that his father, Rudolf Bloom, killed himself in the Queen's Hotel. He doesn't share this with Stephen.
As Stephen tells Bloom about his other writing and recounts "The Parable of the Plums," Bloom imagines how Stephen's talent could result in financial success: Stephen could write parables for young students. (Thankfully, Bloom does not mention this to Stephen, who would no doubt be unenthused).
Bloom thinks about what men should do with their wives, and comes up with a number of different suggestions including playing parlour games, doing musical duets, visiting wives' friends, and doing courses of evening instruction.
The narrator recounts a number of mental shortcomings of Molly's that make Bloom think she might benefit from taking a few courses. He suggests that Molly's deep understanding of Bloom compensates for all these deficiencies.
In the past, Bloom has tried to correct his wife by leaving books open to a certain page, acting as if he thinks she knows something when he knows she doesn't, ridiculing someone else's mistake that he knows Molly could have made.
The best method he has found is to suggest that he is doing something for selfish reasons. (Example: Molly doesn't wear new hats. Bloom says he likes women that wear new hats. He buys her a new hat. That way it seems like it's for his benefit instead of hers.)
When Stephen finishes "The Parable of the Plums," Bloom recounts famous Moses figures throughout history. He asks Stephen if Aristotle was a pupil of a rabbinical philosopher (philosopher who was a rabbi, i.e., Jewish).
They mention several other illustrious people whose thoughts were disregarded because of their race.
Stephen shares his knowledge of Gaelic with Bloom, and Bloom shares his knowledge of Hebrew with Stephen. They each say a short phrase, write out lines on the back page of Sweets of Sin (which Bloom carefully places on the table so Stephen can't see what it is). Both think that they know the grammar of these languages better than the vocabulary.
There is a list of the similarities between Gaelic, Hebrew, and the people who speak these respective languages.
Bloom begins chanting a song in Hebrew, but he forgets the end and has to paraphrase.
Both Bloom and Stephen are familiar with the increasing simplicity of languages that can be observed from a historical study of linguistics.
Bloom asks Stephen to write his name in Irish and Roman characters. He does.
"What was Stephen's auditive sensation? He heard in a profound ancient male unfamiliar melody the accumulation of the past. What was Bloom's visual sensation? He saw in a quick young male familiar form the predestination of the future" (17.110-111).
The half-formed thoughts that Stephen and Bloom have at this moment are recounted. There is a list of the careers that were open to Leopold at one time in his life including a life in the church, a career in law, and a career on the stage.
Leopold asks Stephen to chant an Irish song called Child's Ballad. The narrator produces the lyrics and the music. The song is anti-Semitic. At first, Bloom is amused, but in the second part of the song the Jew's daughter slits a boy's throat with a pen-knife. Bloom becomes glum as he thinks of his daughter Milly.
Stephen offers commentary on the song. He thinks that the little boy described challenged his destiny and ultimately had to consent to it. He imagines either he or Bloom could be portrayed as the victim in the song.
Bloom is sad and wishes Stephen hadn't told him the tale.
Stephen sits very still as if to conserve energy.
Silent, Bloom thinks of the different possible causes for ritual murder including incitation from the hierarchy (people in power tell you to do it), envy of opulence, and hypnosis.
There is a list of the different times that Bloom has suffered from hypnosis and somnambulism (sleepwalking). Milly also suffers from somnambulism.
All of Bloom's memories of Milly's childhood and adolescence are listed. Her extended departure from home has bothered Bloom less than he imagined but more than he hoped.
The cat wanders out of the kitchen, and Bloom begins to think of all the similarities and differences between Milly and the cat, focusing on different moments in Milly's life when she acted cat-like (e.g. pulling at a plait of her hair).
Bloom once gave Milly an owl and a clock as presents, both of which were intended to instruct as well as please her.
Milly reciprocated his generosity in three particular ways. First, on his 27th birthday, she bought him his crown Derby mug (which he is not using for Stephen's benefit). Second, when she went shopping with Bloom she was attentive to his needs. Third, after Bloom explained a certain natural phenomenon to her she wished that she had one thousandth of his knowledge.
Bloom proposes that Stephen stay the night. He lists the benefits to himself, Stephen and Molly if Stephen were to stay at their home for an extended period of time. (Stephen would have a quiet place to study; Bloom could rejuvenate his intelligence; Molly could work on her Italian.)
Bloom thinks how Stephen might one day make a husband for Milly if he became close with Molly.
Bloom begins to explain to Stephen that he didn't go to Mary Dedalus's funeral because it was the anniversary of Rudy's death.
Does Stephen accept Bloom's invitation to stay the night? "Promptly, inexplicably, with amicability, gratefully it was declined" (17.140).
Bloom returns Stephen's money to him (which Bloom has been holding for safe-keeping ever since Bella Cohen's brothel).
They make a number of plans, modify them several times and reaffirm them to each other. For example, Stephen will give Molly Italian lessons; Molly will give Stephen vocal lessons; Bloom and Stephen will meet for a number of intellectual discussions.
Bloom worries about whether or not they will actually follow through on these plans because of the fact that the past cannot be changed and the future cannot be known. He links these feelings to two specific instances. At a circus, a clown approached him and said that Bloom was his father, which was not true (past cannot be changed), and Bloom had once carefully noted a debt he owed to the grocer but never paid.
Bloom feels frustrated. He thinks that he would like to amend a number of poor social conditions, such as inequality and avarice and international animosity.
Bloom's utopian hopes are qualified. He does not think that life is infinitely perfectible because he knows that it is constrained by a number of unfortunate natural conditions. The list includes: necessity of destruction for people to find food; the pain associated with birth and death; menstruation and menopause; insanity and criminality; catastrophes and earthquakes.
Bloom ceases speculating on the idea, and thinks someone with superior intelligence must deal with it.
In contrast to Bloom, Stephen does not feel so glum. Instead, "he affirmed his significance as a conscious rational animal proceeding syllogistically from the known to the unknown and a conscious rational reagent between a micro- and a macrocosm ineluctably constructed upon the incertitude of the void" (17.149).
(This above bit is an interesting idea. What it means is that as a rational creature he can use logic to make headway into the things that he does not know, and as an agent [one who acts] he is stuck between his own little world and the great big world, both of which are fundamentally based on incertitude .)
It is glibly noted that Bloom feels re-assured because, keyless as he was, he has managed to return home despite the incertitude of the void.
They proceed to the door. Bloom sets the candle on the doorstep and Stephen takes his hat. The cat slips inside as Bloom lets Stephen out.
Read this: "What spectacle confronted them when they, first the host, then the guest, emerged silently, doubly dark, from obscurity by a passage from the rere of the house into the penumbra of the garden? The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit" (17.155).
Bloom points out constellations to Stephen and thinks of many things that he knows about astronomy.
Considering the vastness of evolution, Bloom imagines stars drifting through the galaxy "in reality evermoving from immeasurably remote eons to infinitely remote futures in comparison with which the years, threescore and ten, of allotted human life formed a parenthesis of infinitesimal brevity" (17.155).
Having thought about the massiveness of the universe, Bloom then turns his attention to involution increasingly vast. He thinks of geology and microbes and cells and particles "of which each was again divisible in divisions of redivisble component bodies, dividends and divisors ever diminishing without actual division till, if the progress were carried far enough nought nowhere was never reached" (17.157).
Bloom gives up on his calculations because he remembers learning of a number that was so large it would fill 33,000 pages. He realizes that elaboration can go on forever.
Bloom thinks that there must be other life in space, but suspects that no matter how much different it is vanity will still be omnipresent. He thinks that this proves the possibility of redemption.
Bloom considers a number of different features of the constellations above (another brilliant beautiful list but we can't recount all of them).
Bloom thinks of the universe as a Utopia, a fathomless infinite place. But he does recognize it is beautiful because of all the poetry he has read.
Bloom considers the theory that astrological influences (reading the stars and such) have an effect on disasters here on earth.
The narrator lists all of the affinities between the moon and woman, including "her nocturnal predominance;" "her power to enamour, to mortify, to invest with beauty, to render insane, to incite to and aid delinquency" (17.165).
Stephen and Bloom look up to the second story window where they see through the blind the light of an oil lamp. Bloom explains to Stephen that it's just Molly.
Both become "silent, each contemplating the other in both mirrors of the reciprocal flesh of theirhisnothis fellowfaces" (17.168).
Stephen suggests and Bloom affirms that they pee in his garden. The two of them unzip and shield themselves from the other. Bloom's stream is longer, but Stephen's is higher.
They both think about problems related to the penis. Bloom focuses on things like irritability and impotence while Stephen thinks about problems related to relics that may or may not be the body of Christ.
As they pee, they both see a shooting star. Bloom goes and opens the gate for Stephen to let him out. They shake hands (this is explained as if it were a problem of geometry), and the nearby bells of Saint George's Church sound the hour of 2:30am.
As the bells dong, Stephen thinks of some lines from the Latin mass. Bloom thinks of a nursery rhyme. Thinking of an earlier bell, all of the people who attended Dignam's funeral are listed.
With Stephen gone, Bloom is alone.
He hears "the double reverberation of retreating feet on the heavenborn earth, the double vibration of the jew's harp in the resonant lane" (17.179).
He feels, "the cold of interstellar space, thousands of degrees below freezing point or the absolute zero of Fahrenheit, Centigrade or Reaumur: the incipient intimations of proximate dawn" (17.180).
Bloom thinks of dead friends. He considers waiting a moment to see an astrological phenomenon he knows is soon coming, a phenomenon that he saw once before in 1887.
He decides to return inside. As he climbs the door up to the front room, he bumps into a walnut sideboard and hits his head. Looking around, he observes that the furniture has been re-arranged. A piano is now in the sideboard's regular position with a couple of cigarettes snubbed out in an ashtray (Boylan and Molly re-arranged it so they could sit next to each other and play Love's Old Sweet Song).
Bloom lifts his candle and looks carefully around the room. He thinks back to something Mulligan said at the hospital and is amused. Bloom lights some incense to air out the room.
There is a list of the other objects on Bloom's mantle including his time piece, which stopped at 4:46pm, the previous day. The objects physical relations to one another are described in detail.
It is explained why Bloom is solitary (he has no brothers and sisters) and why he still bears some relation to his family (at first he resembled his mother, but as he gets older he is beginning to resemble his father).
In the mirror over the mantle, Bloom sees two bookshelves behind him and notices that his books are out of order. The narrator lists all of Bloom's books. He goes and re-arranges them, thinking about the necessity of order and how little women appreciate literature.
Looking at a book on the Russo-Turkish war, Bloom tries to think of the name of a particular battle that Molly's father, Major Tweedy, would often talk about. Bloom focuses on a mnemotechnic (memory device) he came up with to recall the name of the battle, and then remembers it: Plevna.
Seated at a table in the front room, Bloom eyes a statue of Narcissus. He's made uncomfortable by his collar (which is too tight) and his pants (which are too snug around the waist). He lets out the buttons in each.
Without thinking, Bloom pinches a bee sting and then begins scratching himself. Bloom's budget for the day is listed.
Bloom stretches out his feet and takes off his socks. He has a broken toe nail, which he pulls off and then smells before throwing it away. It reminds him of other times he has smelled the nails he pulled off.
Bloom thinks in great detail of his ambition to purchase a nice two story house on the outskirts of Dublin complete with a wide variety of amenities including a beehive, oval flowerbeds, and a well-stocked lumbershed. He would call it Bloom Cottage.
Bloom tries to picture himself at the new house "trundling a weedladen wheelbarrow without excessive fatigue at sunset amid the scent of newmown hay, ameliorating the soil, multiplying wisdom, achieving longevity" (17.217).
He imagines the different things he could do for recreation at the house, and the social status that would come with it. He imagines how he would use his societal influence to set up a sort of utopia.
A number of examples from Bloom's life are listed to show that he has been dedicated to rectitude (justice, good living, etc.) from even his youngest days. A number of social programs that Bloom supported are listed.
It is explained in detail how Bloom could pay for such a cottage.
A number of extraordinary circumstances that would allow Bloom to purchase the cottage sooner than planned are listed (winning it big in the races; finding a rare relic or postage stamp; robbing the bank at Monte Carlo).
There is another list of a number of industrial schemes and projects by which Bloom could make the money. He considers money donations from very rich men or discovering a rare goldseam.
Bloom meditates on these things because he thinks that late night recollection and philosophizing is good for one's health. He has based this on what he knows of physics and philosophy. Namely, "at the termination of any allotted life only an infinitesimal part of any persons' desires has been realized" (17.231).
Bloom fears accidentally committing murder or suicide in his sleep due to a defect of reason.
He dreams of the ultimate advertisement, one that would cause people to stop and look on in wonder.
The contents of one of the table drawers are listed including letters from Milly, letters from Martha Clifford, press clippings, pornographic photos, gas relievers. We get the label of the gas relievers including testimonials from several different customers. One testimonial thinks that the government should buy gas relievers for military men.
The fact that three women (Josie Breen, Nurse Callan, Gerty MacDowell) all looked on Bloom favorably over the last day makes him feel quite good about himself. He considers cavorting with a woman in a private apartment somewhere.
The contents of the second drawer are listed including Bloom's birth certificate, endowment assurance policy and a bank passbook, certificate for a grave plot purchased, a local press cutting about Rudolph Virag (Bloom's father) changing his name to Bloom.
He lists other things in the drawer related to Rudolph Virag including a daguerreotype (photograph), a letter to Leopold and an old religious book related to Passover.
Fragments of the (suicide) letter from Rudolph Virag to Leopold are offered ("with your dear mother… that is not more to stand… to her… all for me is out… be kind to Athos, Leopold" [17.244]).
It is noted that Bloom suffers from melancholia, and Bloom thinks of his father as an old man taking aconite (poisonous perennial herb) and of the way his faith looked after death by poison.
Bloom feels some remorse related to the fact that he several times disrespected religious beliefs and practices (which he had inherited from his father).
He thinks of the irrationality of such beliefs and practices, but decides that they are no less irrational than others.
Bloom's first memory of his father is of Rudolph telling him about different commercial centres around Europe. As a young boy, Bloom would consult a map over and over again.
Both Rudolph and Leopold have forgotten much of this memory for different reasons (access of years, use of poison, distraction).
There is a list of Bloom's quirks related to lapses in memory. "Occasionally he ate without having previously removed his hat. Occasionally he drank voraciously the juice of gooseberry fool from an inclined plate" (17.251).
The various reversals of fortune that Bloom is protected from by his endowment policy and his bank passbook are listed.
There is a list of the various indignities suffered by Bloom including the indifference of women that previously liked him and the simulated ignorance of acquaintances that he has met throughout his day.
It's noted that Bloom could prevent such situations by dying or by moving.
There is a list of reasons Bloom might move away including the pressures of constantly living with another person.
Bloom considers such pressures, and he reflects on the desirable nature of different places both in Ireland abroad. A vagrant, Bloom imagines that he would make his way by the stars.
He imagines the missing persons' flyer that would be put up after his departure. He thinks that he would be known by two names, everyman and noman, and how different people would pay tribute to him.
Bloom envisions himself wondering beyond the limits of the starts, being reborn in the constellations, and returning home victoriously.
He thinks such a return home might be irrational, and he thinks that space is reversible (you can go somewhere and then go back) whereas time is not (once a moment passes, it is gone).
There is a list of different reasons Bloom won't actually leave his house and become a wanderer of the earth including lateness of the hour, need for sleep and proximity of his bed, the dangers of solitary travel, the anticipation of sleeping next to the warm body of his wife.
There is a list of the various advantages of sleeping with another person as opposed to sleeping alone. Before rising to head upstairs, Bloom thinks of all that he has done today in relation to different religious days and celebrations.
The table emits a loud crack. Bloom again wonders who the man in the mackintosh was.
Bloom thinks of his own answer to a childhood riddle: Where was Moses when the light went out? His answer: in the dark.
As Bloom walks upstairs he thinks of all the little imperfections in his day including the failure to obtain Keyes's advertisement and his failure to determine whether or not there are private parts on the Greek statues in the National Library. He thinks of Molly's father, Major Tweedy.
Bloom looks around the room and sees Molly's things all strewn about. He undresses and climbs into bed carefully.
In Joyce's words: "With circumspection, as invariably when entering an abode (his own or not his own): with solicitude, the snakespiral springs of the mattress being old, the brass quoits and pendent viper radii loose and tremulous under stress and strain: prudently, as entering a lair or ambush of lust or adder: lightly, the less to disturb: reverently, the bed of conception and of birth, of consummation of marriage and of breach of marriage, of sleep and of death" (17.281).
Bloom and Molly sleep head to foot.
Bloom notes the impress of Boylan's body in the bed. He smiles thinking of Molly's 25 previous suitors and how every man that sleeps with a woman imagines himself the first. He lists each and every one of them.
Bloom thinks of Boylan and of his vigor and good reputation in town. He has a wide variety of emotions, but with time he becomes more and more resigned.
Blooms is envious of Boylan's sexual skill, jealous of the pleasure of the attraction, resigned to the fact that sex is a natural action and that there are many crimes that are (in his mind) worse than adultery.
Bloom considers a number of absurd actions he could take in an attempt to remedy the situation such as assassination, duel by combat, divorce, or exposure via a spring-up bed.
He justifies his sentiments to himself in a variety of ways, concluding by thinking of "the futility of triumph or protest or vindication: the inanity of extolled virtue: the lethargy of nescient matter: the apathy of the stars" (17.293).
Bloom thinks with pleasure of the female bum and then leans over and "kissed the plump mellow yellow smellow melons of her rump, on each plump melonous hemisphere, in their mellow yellow furrow, with obscure prolonged provocative melon-smellonous osculation" (17.296).
Molly asks about his day and he tells her, omitting certain details such as the letters with Martha Clifford and his masturbating to Gerty MacDowell.
His narration comes to focus on Stephen Dedalus, who he identifies as a professor and an author. In the light of the oil lamp, they both think of the limitations of their marriage, and Molly reflects that it has been over ten years since she has had intercourse with their husband. They move ever so slightly westward as the earth rotates through space.
Their postures in bed (again, head to foot) are described in great detail. Molly is described as Gea-Tellus, the earth mother. Bloom feels like a manchild in the womb and rests after his long day of travel.
He thinks of a long Dublin pantomime about Sinbad the Sailor as he nods off.
Bloom's place of rest is marked with a big fat dot indicating that he is right there on the page.