© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.



by James Joyce

Ulysses Mortality Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph), except for the "Circe" episode, which is (Chapter.Line) and the "Penelope" episode, which is (Chapter.Page). We used the Vintage International edition published in 1990.

Quote #1

Bag of corpsegas sopping in foul brine. A quiver of minnows, fat of a spongy titbit, flash through the slits of his buttoned trouserfly. God becomes man becomes fish becomes barnacle goose becomes featherbed mountain. Dead breaths I living breathe, tread dead dust, devour a ruinous offal from all dead. Hauled stark over the gunwale he breathes upward the stench of his green grave, his leprous nosehole snoring to the sun.
A seachange this, brown eyes saltblue. Seadeath, mildest of all deaths known to man. (3.87-88)

Here, in "Proteus," Stephen imagines the body of a man that he has heard was pulled out of the sea. Why does Stephen think of death so graphically? How might his need to think of death in such graphic terms be related to the death of his mother? To his own artistic temperament? Is he just being morbid? Is it true, as John Keats once said, that those who love life the most also long for death?

Quote #2

A cloud began to cover the sun wholly slowly wholly. Grey. Far.

No, not like that. A barren land, bare waste. Vulcanic lake, the dead sea: no fish, weedless, sunk deep in the earth. No wind would lift those waves, grey metal, poisonous foggy waters. Brimstone they called it raining down: the cities of the plain: Sodom, Gomorrah, Edom. All dead names. A dead sea in a dead land, grey and old. Old now. It bore the oldest, the first race. A bent hag crossed from Cassidy's clutching a noggin bottle by the neck. The oldest people. Wandered far away over all the earth, captivity to captivity, multiplying, dying, being born everywhere. It lay there now. Now it could bear no more. Dead: an old woman's: the grey sunken cunt of the world.

Desolation. (4.59-61)

Look closely at this scene in "Calypso." How does the external scene suddenly turn Bloom's thoughts in such a morbid direction? In contrast to Joyce's letters, which are quite explicit, this is also the only place in the novel where the word "cunt" appears. What do you make of the fact that he reserves this for a description of the Dead Sea? That the female organ of reproduction is here related to death?

Quote #3

He ceased. Mr. Bloom glanced from his angry moustache to Mr. Power's mild face and Martin Cunningham's eyes and beard, gravely shaking. Noisy selfwilled man. Full of his son. He is right. Something to hand on. If little Rudy had lived. See him grow up. Hear his voice in the house. Walking beside Molly in an Eton suit. My son. Me in his eyes. Strange feeling it would be. From me. Just a chance. (6.29)

In "Hades," Simon Dedalus is complaining about Stephen, which gets Bloom thinking about his son Rudy. What hopes does Bloom hang on the head of his son Rudy? How does Rudy's death accentuate Bloom's sense of his own mortality?

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...