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Ulysses

Ulysses

by James Joyce

Ulysses Episode 6: Hades Summary

  • At 11am Bloom climbs into a carriage with Martin Cunningham, Mr. Powers, and Simon Dedalus (Stephen's father). Dignam's funeral procession begins at 9 Newbridge Avenue in Sandymount and will gradually make its way to Prospect Cemetery in Glasnevin, north of Dublin. (See Gifford's "Ulysses" Annotated if you want to trace the exact route.) As the procession gets going, Bloom sits in the carriage and thinks of his dead son Rudy.
  • As the carriage moves past Watery lane, Bloom sees Stephen Dedalus and points him out to his father. Simon assumes Stephen must be staying with his Aunt Sally, and asks if Mulligan is with him.
  • Bloom reports that Stephen is alone, but Simon goes on a rant about what a scoundrel Mulligan is and how one of these days he is going to write a letter to Mulligan's mother to let her know as much.
  • Simon's concern for his son gets Bloom thinking about Rudy and how he might have gone to Eton if he had lived. He thinks of what might have been Rudy's conception, a day when Molly saw two dogs going at it in the street and begged, "Give us a touch, Poldy. God, I'm dying for it" (6.29).
  • Bloom continues to think about his family as the men begin to complain about the inner state of the carriage and the buttonless leather of the seats.
  • The men discuss who is at the funeral, and the carriage stops by the Grand Canal. As Bloom looks at the gasworks, he thinks of how lucky his family has been with illness over all. He gets to thinking about the death of his favorite old dog, and notes that the weather is changing.
  • Cunningham notes how entertaining Tom Kernan was last night, and they all laugh at Kernan's high-flying opinion of Ben Dollard's The Croppy Boy.
  • (This song will pop up again and again in the book; later on we'll even get to read about Dollard singing it.)
  • They discuss Dawson's piece in the paper, and Simon says he will read it later. Bloom scans the obits and finds a poem written for someone named Henry that died. This gets him to thinking about Martha and where he put her letter. Bloom observes the people they pass in the procession.
  • As they pass the Queen's theatre, Bloom thinks of going to see shows there.
  • The men see Blazes Boylan and salute him. Bloom distracts himself by examining his fingernails. He wonders what they all see in him (Molly included), and speculates that Boylan is "Worst man in Dublin" (6.89).
  • (Obviously, this is the opinion of a jealous husband, but we'll see Bloom's thought on the affair change and develop throughout the day.)
  • Mr. Power asks how Molly's concert is going and Bloom reports to them all that it is going well – traveling all around to the chief towns. He lists all the major performers, and Mr. Power adds Molly (Madame) to the list. Bloom unclasps his hands to acknowledge the gesture.
  • Bloom sees a man that used to be a lawyer selling shoelaces in the street and speculates about his downfall.
  • Bloom thinks about the rumor he has heard that Mr. Power is having an affair, though not a physical one.
  • The men see a Jewish man wandering by Elvery's elephant house.
  • Dedalus yells at him and they all laugh. Cunningham says that they've all felt the animosity of Jewish moneylenders (anti-Semitism strikes again.), but then notes Bloom is there, and says, "Well, nearly all of us" (6.116).
  • The word "Reuben" gives Bloom an opportunity to change the subject, and he jumps in to the conversation by telling the story of Reuben J. and his son. The gist is that Reuben's son tried to jump off of a boat, perhaps to commit suicide, while they were going to the Isle of Man. But then a boatman fished him out and Reuben Senior gave the boatman a florin for saving his son's life. Cunningham hijacks the story from Bloom midway through.
  • Simon says that a florin (Irish currency) is "one and eightpence too much" and they all laugh heartily (6.137).
  • Cunningham thinks that they should all look a bit more serious, but Simon thinks that Dignam wouldn't begrudge them the laugh.
  • They all begin remembering and saluting Dignam while Bloom thinks about what a heavy drinker he was.
  • When they note that it was a sudden death, Bloom says that this is the best kind of death. He explains himself: "No suffering. A moment and all is over. Like dying in sleep" (6.133).
  • No one responds, and Bloom looks out into Sackville Street where a foundation for a statue of Charles Stewart Parnell is being laid. Bloom thinks of Parnell's downfall.
  • He then sees another funeral procession, all in white for a child, and Bloom thinks about the church customs for what is worn at different types of funerals. He thinks back to Rudy's death, and thinks "Meant nothing. Mistake of nature" (6.158).
  • As they all mourn the young boy, Mr. Power said that it is at least not as bad as a man who takes his own life. He says this is "The greatest disgrace to have in the family" (6.164).
  • Dedalus jumps on board and says it is a cowardly thing to do, but Cunningham, knowing Bloom's father committed suicide, argues that they must take a charitable view of the act and that it is not for them to judge.
  • Bloom silently thanks Cunningham for his kindness. He takes a sympathetic view of Cunningham, and recalls that his wife is an alcoholic and that Cunningham will take care of her all week only to have her pawn their future on the weekend.
  • Bloom thinks back to the circumstances of his father's suicide.
  • The men change the subject. They hope the driver does not upset their carriage on the road, and then begin to talk about a German auto race. As they pass Eccles Street, Bloom thinks of his house and the Lady's Hospice for the dying down there. He recalls a student (Dixon, we'll meet him later) who used to work there and once took care of a bee sting for him. He has heard that the boy now works in a pregnancy ward and thinks "From one extreme to the other" (6.177).
  • The carriage stops again for a herd of sheep and cattle. Bloom remembers that the next day is killing day.
  • Bloom wonders why they don't run a tramline from the parkgate (gate at the front of the park) to the quays (docks) to transport the animals, and then thinks that they could also have one for municipal funeral trains like they do in Milan.
  • Dedalus scoffs at the idea, but they all discuss one time a carriage was upset and the coffin fell out in the street, and he comes around to thinking that maybe it's not such a bad idea.
  • Meanwhile, Bloom imagines Dignam's coffin being upturned, and how he would look if he fell out into the street right now. They pass a bar and Bloom thinks that they will return to drink a consolation for Dignam.
  • He continues thinking about Dignam's body and wonders if he would bleed if his corpse got snagged on a nail.
  • They see a boatman with his barge in the lock. Bloom thinks that he could visit Milly. The man salutes them.
  • They discuss the grocer Fogarty and his dispute over a bill due to him by Tom Kernan.
  • They pass the house of Samuel Childs, who was accused of murdering his brother, and they discuss how he managed to get off. Bloom thinks of the common appeal of reading about murder cases in the papers. He thinks that Milly wouldn't like it if he popped in unannounced.
  • They pass into Prospect Cemetery and get out of the carriage.
  • Bloom thinks that it is a pretty paltry looking funeral, and then follows the group. Kernan and Lambert are behind him, Hynes up ahead, Corney Kelleher up minding the hearse. Bloom wonders what happened to the child's funeral that they saw on the way.
  • Bloom thinks about how it is funny that Dignam beat them there, dead as he is. He wonders if the horses realize what it is they are carting to the cemetery a couple times a day.
  • The pallbearers lift the coffin and they follow. Cunningham tells Power that he was in agony when Power spoke of suicide before Bloom, and Power is taken aback. He says this is the first he's heard of Bloom's father killing himself.
  • Bloom asks Kernan if Dignam was insured, and Kernan tells him about the arrangements being made for Dignam's children. Kernan mentions the wife, and Bloom begins thinking about how she must feel the weight of Dignam's death more than he does (it must be more painful for her).
  • He thinks about the habits of widows, and the fact that one spouse must die before the other.
  • Lambert and Simon make small talk about the races, and when Simon asks how Dick Tivy is doing, Lambert announces that Dick is dead. He notes that Cunningham is going to take up a collection for Dignam's children. They discuss how an old employee of Dignam's threw in money despite the fact that Dignam fired him.
  • As the pallbearers move the coffin into the chapel, Bloom wonders which end is the head. He follows everyone else into the chapel, and then slips his newspaper under his knees before he kneels.
  • The priest, Father Coffey, emerges and begins the service. As Bloom listens on, he thinks that Coffey has a swollen face and wonders what causes it. He imagines that there is a lot of bad gas in the place on account of all the bodies, and then readjusts his newspaper to make himself more comfortable while kneeling.
  • The priest shakes holy water over the coffin and prays over the body. Bloom thinks of how many times he has to do this, and what a tiresome job it must be.
  • The gravediggers come in, put the coffin on their cart, and they all proceed out of the chapel. Passing the O'Connell circle, Simon and Mr. Power discuss Dan O'Connell's remains.
  • When they pass close by the grave of May Dedalus, Simon breaks down and begins crying. He says that the Lord can take him whenever he likes.
  • Kernan and Bloom discuss the service. Kernan thinks that Coffey did it too quickly, and wishes that they did an Irish service, which he finds simpler and more impressive. Bloom agrees with him, but thinks to himself that he prefers the mass being said in Latin.
  • He thinks of the heart as an old pump that just eventually breaks down. Kernan begins speaking with Corny Kelleher.
  • Meanwhile, John Henry Menton and Lambert discuss Bloom. Menton doesn't recognize him at first, but then remembers that they had a fight over a game of bowls. When he finds out he is married to Molly, he wonders, "what did she marry a coon like that for?" (6.310).
  • They pass the cemetery superintendent, John O'Connell, and he falls in step with them. Simon notes that he has come to pay him another visit, and O'Connell says politely that he doesn't want Simon to have to keep coming to the cemetery. He then tells them a joke about two drunks who came to find the grave of their friend, and mistook a statue of Jesus for their friend. They complained of the imperfect likeness.
  • Cunningham points out to Hynes that O'Connell told the joke for a purpose, to try to lift people's spirits.
  • Bloom admires the superintendent, and then recalls an ad he is supposed to post in the paper (Keyes's ad). He can't imagine how O'Connell's wife must feel, being married to a caretaker, and then thinks about rumors he has heard of people using graveyards as lounges and places for prostitutes.
  • Bloom goes on to wonder why they don't bury people standing up – turn the earth into one big honeycomb. He thinks about how bodies must make great fertilizer. He thinks about the maggots eating dead bodies, and then gets to thinking about the gravediggers in Hamlet and how jolly they were. He recalls a clever rumor he heard that if people read their own obits they will live longer because it gives them a second wind.
  • All of the mourners move around Dignam's grave. Mind still wandering, Bloom considers the practice of burial, and thinks how strange it is. He thinks that it really is just a waste of wood, and that it's bizarre how particular people are about their burial arrangements. He counts the people at the burial and comes up with thirteen.
  • The men drop the coffin into the grave, and Bloom imagines that O'Connell is looking around at the mourners "Weighing them up perhaps to see which will go next" (6.345). He thinks of all the last wishes people must have before they die, and how ultimately everyone is forgotten just the same. He notes that even Ivy day, which commemorates Parnell, is beginning to taper off.
  • Bloom looks in the direction of his own plot right next to his mother's and Rudy's.
  • The gravediggers fill the grave, and as the coffin disappears, Bloom thinks, "Begin to be forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind" (6.349).
  • Hynes goes around taking names, and Bloom gives him his name and M'Coy's. Hynes asks if he knows the stranger's name, and Bloom asks if he is referring to the man in the mackintosh jacket. Hynes misunderstands him and thinks that the man's name is Mackintosh.
  • Another gravedigger approaches and Bloom has to move to get out of the way. They finish the job, and Hynes says that they should go by Parnell's grave.
  • Power recalls the rumor that Parnell is not actually dead, that his coffin is full of stone, and that one day he will come again. Hynes dismisses it.
  • Bloom continues to think how strange it is how much people fuss over the dead. He then remembers how he tips the gardener to keep Rudy's grave free of weeds.
  • Bloom sees a bird, which gets him thinking about how Milly once buried a dead bird in a kitchen matchbox. He considers the fact that all the dead used to walk around Dublin, and thinks how hard it is to remember people even when they are alive.
  • A rat emerges from the crypt of Robert Emery (man from The Croppy Boy song). Bloom imagines rats picking clean the bones of the dead, and then considers cremation and how some people think drowning is the most pleasant way to die. He gets a bit creeped out by the graveyard.
  • Cunningham and Menton are talking, and Bloom remembers how angry Menton got when he beat him at a game of bowls. Bloom points out that there is a dent in Menton's hat, and Menton fixes it, and then snubs Bloom.
  • Bloom is a bit chapfallen (distressed by Menton's snub), and the episode closes with him thinking, "How grand we are this morning" (6.400).

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