Ugly and futile: lean neck and tangled hair and a stain of ink, a snail's bed. Yet someone had loved him, borne him in her arms and in her heart. But for her the race of the world would have trampled him under foot, a squashed boneless snail. She had loved this weak watery blood draining from her own. Was that then real? The only true thing in life? (2.69).
Here, in "Nestor," Stephen observes his student, Cyril Sargent. Stephen initially resents Sargent, but then begins to sympathize with the student when he thinks of how Sargent's mother must have loved him. Is Stephen starting to understand the nature of love or does the fact that his thoughts quickly turn to his own mother suggest that he still is far too self-absorbed to understand love?
"- The sentimentalist is he who would enjoy without incurring the immense debtorship for a thing done." Signed: Dedalus. (9.207)
How does Stephen's telegram to Mulligan in "Scylla and Charybdis" indirectly explain his own trouble with loving? Does he think that he has to justify his love? Is it possible to rationally justify love? Does the telegram explain how Stephen distinguishes himself from the constant-mocker Mulligan? Is the distinction justified?
"- Force, hatred, history, all that. That's not life for men and women, insult and hatred. And everybody knows that it's the very opposite of that that is really life."
- "What?" says Alf.
- "Love," says Bloom. I mean the opposite of hatred. I must go now, says he to John Wyse." (12.423 – 425)
How much courage must it take for Bloom to preach the importance of love to intoxicated and indifferent Irishman in Burke's pub? Does the message sound to these men? Is it affective, or does he just sound like a sentimentalist?
Love loves to love love. Nurse loves the new chemist. Constable 14A loves Mary Kelly. Gerty MacDowell loves the boy that has the bicycle. M.B. loves a fair genteman. Li Chi Han lovey up kissy Cha Pu Chow. Jumbo, the elephant, loves Alive, the elephant. Old Mr. Verschoyle with the ear trumpet loves old Mrs. Verschoyle with the turnedin eye. The man in the brown macintosh loves a lady who is dead. His Majesty the King loves her Majesty the Queen. Mrs. Norman W. Tupper loves officer Taylor. You love a certain person. And this person loves that other person because everybody loves somebody but God loves everybody. (12.430)
Here, some voice or another (either the narrator or the author or something in between – it gets complicated in Ulysses) makes fun of Bloom's preaching love by imitating childish love talk and sentimentality. What ideas of love are we taught as children? What truth is there in it? How can we (or the characters in the book) talk about love without falling into sentimentality?
She had loved him better than he knew. Light-hearted deceiver and fickle like all his sex he would never understand what he had meant to her and for an instant there was in the blue eyes a quick stinging of tears. (13.66)
Gerty is thinks longingly of Reggie Wylie, except that her voice is a parody of the sentimental style of young girls novels. Is it fair for the narrator to parody Gerty's inner voice? Is it misogynistic? What do infatuated young girls know about love, if anything? What's the difference between infatuation and love?
"Man and woman, love, what is it? A cork and bottle." (15.402)
These are Bloom's dejected words in Bella Cohen's brothel, as Zoe flirts with him and kids him for being so glum. Why might this seem particularly true for Bloom today? Do you think that Bloom believes this simplistic definition of love? How does this comment fit in with Bloom's other thoughts about love in the novel?
"Never about the runaway wife coming back, however much devoted to the absentee. The face at the window!" (16.79)
Here, in "Eumaeus," W.B. Murphy's tales of his time at sea get Bloom thinking about classic myths and stories of seagoing men (e.g. from the Odyssey). He observes that the stories all focus on the man's adventure, but never give us a sense of what it's like from the wife's point of view. What is the view of love promoted by a book like the Odyssey? Is it sexist? How does adding the image of a "waiting" woman give us a fuller and more complete picture of love? What are the particular challenges of the lost traveler in love? What about those of the sedentary wife, not knowing about her husband's whereabouts?
What instances of deficient mental development in his wife inclined him in favour of the lastmentioned (ninth) solution?
In disoccupied moments she had more than once covered a sheet of paper with signs and hieroglyphics which she stated were Greek and Irish and Hebrew characters. She had interrogated constantly at varying intervals as to the correct method of writing the capital initial of the name of a city of Canada, Quebec. She understood little of political complications, internal, or balance of power, external… (17.92)
In "Ithaca," the narrator lists a number of ways in which Bloom disapproves of his wife's intelligence. Are these things incompatible with love? How far have they come from the passion of their early years that Molly remembers in "Penelope?" How would you describe the love that can accommodate all these complaints against one's love within it? Are husbands and wives more like lovers or friends?
It must be real love if a man gives up his life for her that way for nothing I suppose there are few men like that left its hard to believe in it though unless it really happened to me the majority of them with not a particle of love in their natures to find two people like that nowadays full up of each other that would feel the same way as you do theyre usually a bit foolish in the head. (18.767)
These are Molly's thoughts on love after reflecting on a boy that her daughter Milly was bringing home on a regular basis. What does it say about Molly that she thinks most men don't have "a particle of love in their natures?" Could this attitude grow out of her experience with Bloom or is it just a realistic observation?
I thought well as well him as another. (18.783)
This is Molly Bloom's last remembered thought before she agrees to marry Leopold Bloom. Is this a coldly cynical thought or is it just realistic? Does it undermine her professed love for her husband? Is it possible to love someone and also to sometimes think of them in the most ordinary of terms? Was this a big warning sign that they never should have gotten married?
"- It gives them a crick in their necks," Stephen said, "and they are too tired to look up or down or to speak. They put the bag of plums between them and eat the plums out of it one after another, wiping off with their handkerchiefs the plum-juice that dribbles out of their mouths and spitting the plum-stones slowly out between the railings."
He gave a sudden young laugh as a close. (7.515-516)
These are the last lines of Stephen's "Parable of the Plums" that he tells to Myles Crawford and Professor MacHugh as they walk out of the Freeman Telegraph office. What does Stephen's parable say about Irish nationalism and life in Dublin? To get you going, why do they throw down the plum seeds? Why does the parable involve two old women that have never reproduced in their lives? Why is that they climb to the top of a pillar meant to honor an Englishman?
Nations of the earth. No-one behind. She's passed. Then and not till then. Tram. Kran, kran, kran. Good oppor. Coming. Krandlkrankran. I'm sure it's the burgundy. Yes. One, two. Let my epitaph be. Karaaaaaaa. Written. I have.
These are the last lines of the "Sirens" episode. What's going on is that Bloom is remembering the last line of the patriot Robert Emmet's speech before he was executed. At the same time, he is waiting for the noise of a passing tram so that he can let out all the gas that has built up in his stomach. To an Irish reader, this passage would be extremely offensive. Joyce is mingling the dying words of their beloved patriot with the sound of a fart. Why would he do this? Is it possible for a sincere and powerful sentence to become sentimental and powerless simply from overuse? How would Bloom's fart undercut this sentimentality?
"-Their syphilisation, you mean," says the citizen. "To hell with them! The curse of a goodfornothing God light sideways on the bloody thicklugged sons of whores' gets! No music and no art and no literature worthy of name. Any civilization they have they stole from us. Tonguetied sons of bastards' ghosts." (12.331)
Here, the citizen rails against the lack of culture in England. This is one of his many "patriotic" rants in the "Cyclops" episode. It is plain to see how his Irish pride has caused him to renounce many things simply because they are not Irish. What would it mean for the citizen to be able to appreciate the culture of his oppressor? In what ways would it be degrading? In what ways would it be liberating?
"A nation?" says Bloom. "A nation is the same people living in the same place." (12.403)
Is Bloom's definition true? Here, he is countering the citizen's intensive nationalism. To what extent is his simple definition meant to simply calm down the patriotic fervor of the men around him?
"- What is your nation if I may ask," says the citizen.
"- Ireland," says Bloom. "I was born here. Ireland."
The citizen said nothing only cleared the spit out of his gullet and, gob, he spat a Red bank oyster out of him right in the corner. (12.408 – 410)
Is one's nation always determined by the place where one is born? Imagine the case of an African slave born in the United States. Does that make the U.S. their nation? What more do you think the citizen wants from Bloom's definition? Is there anything you yourself would add to it?
By no exterior splendour is the prosperity of a nation more efficaciously asserted than by the measure of how far forward may have progressed the tribute of its solicitude for that proliferent continuance. (14.3)
These lines come from the start of "Oxen of the Sun." They are extremely convoluted because they are written in the style of English translations of old Latinate prose, but when we untangle them we find that the narrator is talking about the fact that part of a nation's strength can be found in the extent to which it respects procreation. What does it mean to treat a mother as a national figure? What national duty is she performing? Does anything seem morally wrong about treating mothers like Mina Purefoy as national heroes?
My beloved subjects, a new era is about to dawn. I, Bloom, tell you verily it is even now at hand. Yea, on the word of a Bloom, ye shall ere long enter into the golden city which is to be, the new Bloomusalem in the Nova Hibernia of the future. (15.315)
These lines come from Bloom's vain fantasy outside of Bella Cohen's brothel where he imagines himself as an emperor and the people gather to worship him. Here, Bloom's pride as a Jewish man is turned into his imaginary call for a nation named after himself. Nationalism often gets talked about as if it were a form of selflessness. How can excessive patriotism mask the pride and selfishness that lies beneath it?
"You die for your country, suppose." (He places his arm on Private Carr's sleeve.) "Not that I wish it for you. But I say: Let my country die for me. Up to the present, it has done so. I don't want to die. Damn death. Long live life!" (15.975)
These are Stephen's words to Private Carr at the end of "Circe," shortly before he gets socked in the face. At first glance, they seem selfish, but things are much more complex. How do these lines continue to build a picture of Stephen's pride in Ireland? What are the differences between Carr's nationalism and Stephen's (if he has any)? Is the desire to perfect oneself itself a sign of pride in one's place of birth?
"- That's right," the old tarpaulin corroborated. "The Irish catholic peasant. He's the backbone of our empire. You know Jem Mullins?"
"While allowing him his individual opinions, as every man," the keeper added "he cared nothing for any empire, ours or his, and considered no Irishman worthy of his salt that served it. Then they began to have a few irascible words, when it waxed hotter, both, needless to say, appealing to the listeners who followed the passage of arms with interest so long as they didn't indulge in recriminations and come to blows." (16.190-191)
At this scene in "Eumaeus," an old man and the keeper of the bar (who looks like Skin-the-Goat from the Phoenix Park murders) get in a big argument about the strength of the Irish peasant and which armies he should serve. Why is it that men who believe strongly in nationalism have to enforce their views on the people around them? How does the intentionally bored and cliché voice in this episode undermine their opinions?
Was the knowledge possessed by both of each of these languages, the extinct and the revived, theoretical or practical? Theoretical, being confined to certain grammatical rules of accidence and syntax and practically excluding vocabulary.(17.103)
This may seem like a bizarre quote for Patriotism, but we'll explain. In "Ithaca," Stephen and Bloom have just finished showing each other how to write in Gaelic and Hebrew respectively. Yet, here, we learn that their knowledge of these languages is only theoretical – that they don't actually speak them. Hence, instead of just sharing their respective cultures, what they are doing is enacting the sharing of their respective cultures (which they don't actually know that well). Why would the two enact the sharing of their cultures? Is this a sign of devotion to those cultures, or is there some other idea that is motivating their action?
Wanted smart lady typist to aid gentleman in literary work. I called you naughty darling because I do not like that other world. Please tell me what is the meaning. Please tell me what perfume does your wife. Tell me who made the world. (8.110)
As Bloom passes the Irish Times, he remembers that he put an ad in the paper for a lady typist. That is how he met Martha Clifford with whom he is now carrying on an illicit (though relatively tame) correspondence. What does it say about Bloom that he lives out his sexual life through written letters? Does language itself become sexualized for Bloom? In what ways is he repressed and why?
Mr. Bloom with careful hand recomposed his wet shirt. O Lord that little limping devil. Begins to feel cold and clammy. Aftereffect not pleasant. Still you have to get rid of it someway. They don't care. Complimented perhaps. (13.91-92)
In this scene, Bloom has just finished masturbating to Gerty MacDowell. How does Joyce stylistically capture the down feeling after an orgasm? Hint: notice sentence length. Also, Bloom has just finished masturbating in public. Is he a disgusting man or is this a forgivable act? Has he disrespected Gerty? If so, how?
"He surprised me in the rere of the premises, your honour, when the missus was out shopping one morning with a request for a safety pin. He held me and I was discoloured in four places as a result. And he interfered twict with my clothing." (15.191)
Mary Driscoll, an ex-servant of the Bloom's, is one of the first women to testify against Bloom as a lewd man in his masochistic court fantasy. To an extent, her story is later corroborated by Molly. In general, it seems that the imaginary charges brought against Bloom are mainly a result of his guilt over his sexual desires. Why do people in general (and Bloom in particular) feel guilty about their sexuality? What is there to feel guilty about, if anything?
O, I so want to be a mother. (15.374)
Here, Bloom imagines that he is on trial for lewd conduct, and that Dr. Dixon has just announced (in his imaginary court) that Bloom is pregnant with eight children. A few lines later, Bloom actually gives birth. What does the book seem to say about men's relation to the sexual process? Are men envious of motherhood and the pains of birth? Do they feel estranged from the creation process? If you know anything about Freud, how does this turn the good doctor on his head?
"Henceforth you are unmanned and mine in earnest, a thing under the yoke. Now for your punishment frock. You will shed your male garments, you understand, Ruby Cohen? and don the shot silk luxuriously rustling over head and shoulders and quickly too." (15.607)
Here, we get a glimpse of Bloom's masochistic fantasy while he is in Bella Cohen's brothel. Bloom imagines Ms. Cohen like an evil circus master. She has become masculine and he has become feminine and she is abusing him and treating him like a prostitute. How strange is Bloom's fantasy? Meaning, does everyone think about what it would be like to be the opposite sex and just not talk about it? What does Bloom's masochistic fantasy say about his own sexual confidence? Is it just a case of him empathizing with the prostitutes?
(Hoarsely, sweetly rising to her throat.) "O! Weeshwashtkissima pooishthnapoohuck!"
(His eyes wildly dilated, clasps himself.) "Show! Hide! Show! Plough her! More! Shoot!" (15.821-822)
Here, we are in Bloom's masochistic fantasy in Bella Cohen's brothel. He is imagining Boylan and Molly having sex, and he is outside cheering them on. How is this dream/nightmare a way for Bloom to deal with the fact of his wife's affair? Is it further confirmation of his impotence or does it somehow show an effort to be involved in the sexual act, if only peripherally?
Of a bodily and mental male organism specially adapted for the superincumbent posture of energetic human copulation and energetic piston and cylinder movement necessary for the complete satisfaction of a constant but not acute concupiscence resident in a bodily and mental female organism, passive but not obtuse. (17.288)
Here, the narrator explains why Bloom is envious of Boylan. In short, Bloom's envy stems from Boylan's sexual vigor. Yet, the narrator explains the sexual act in cold and mechanical terms. To what extent is this true of sex without love? To what extent does it just shield Bloom from his envy (by imagining the interaction between Boylan and Molly as mechanical instead of passionate)?
At this age of his life simply ruination for any woman and no satisfaction in it pretending to like it till he comes and then finish it off myself anyway. (18.740)
In blunt terms, Molly Bloom here describes how unsatisfying sex with her husband would be. (This is, of course, if they had had sex in the past ten years.) How is sexual desire negotiated and managed in a marriage? Does each partner have an obligation to satisfy the other sexually? If they are not satisfied, do they have an obligation to keep mum about it? What happens if you are in love with someone but find that you are sexually incompatible?
I can feel his mouth O Lord I must stretch myself I wished he was here or somebody to let myself go with and come again like that I feel all fire inside me. (18.754)
For the record, this gets much more graphic. Here, we have Molly thinking back on sex with Boylan as she lays in bed next to her husband. It was sentences like this that led the first readers of Ulysses to think that Molly Bloom really wasn't much more than a prostitute. If we want to approve of and accept Molly as a character (which we do), then how can we reconcile her blatant sexual desire with her role as a mother and a wife?
What else we given all those desires for Id like to know I cant help it if Im young still can I it's a wonder Im not an old shriveled hag before my time living with him so cold never embracing me except sometimes when hes asleep the wrong end of me not knowing. (18.777)
We here learn that not only does Molly suspect Bloom of a number of indiscretions and not only have they not had sex in ten years, but Bloom isn't even physically affectionate with her. What role does their son Rudy's death play in their sexual relationship? Why might it have taken the pleasure out of sex for them? Does Bloom's behavior justify Molly's decision to have an affair?
The cords of all link back, strandentwining cable of all flesh. That is why mystic monks. Will you be as gods? Gaze in your omphalos. Hello. Kinch here. Put me on to Edenville. Aleph, alpha: nought, nought, one. (3.6)
Stephen here imagines the umbilical cord (omphalos) as a telephone cord that goes back into the past, allowing him to make a telephone call to Eden by dialing the Greek letters (Aleph, alpha). Why might he settle on the image of an umbilical cord? How can the umbilical cord become a metaphor for our relation to the past?
Quick warm sunlight came running from Berkeley Road, swiftly, in slim sandals, along the brightening footpath. Runs, she runs to meet me, a girl with gold hair on the wind. (4.63)
Notice here how the external world ties into memory. The shifting of the sun jogs a memory of Milly for Bloom. Is this how memory actually works? Is it true to life?
Must have been that morning in Raymond terrace she was at the window, watching the two dogs at it by the wall of the cease to do evil. And the sergeant grinning up. She had that cream gown on with the rip she never stitched. Give us a touch, Poldy. God, I'm dying for it. How life beings. (6.29)
In the carriage with the men on the way to Dignam's funeral, Bloom has this recollection of the moment that he thinks was Rudy's conception. What does it mean to remember your child in terms of their conception versus their birth? Does the fact that we as readers read this memory as a sentence (a sentence that looks like all the other sentences that depict the present) make our experience of this memory different than it is for Bloom? What gives this memory special poignancy today? How might it be tied in with Bloom's feelings of guilt over the death of his son?
"- What is a ghost?" Stephen said with tingling energy. "One who has faded into impalpability through death, through absence, through change of manners." (9.53)
In "Scylla and Charybdis," Stephen is arguing that the ghost of Hamlet's father in the play corresponds to Shakespeare and not to Shakespeare's father. The idea is that when Shakespeare left Stratford to go to London, he became a ghost-like presence in his house and that he realized this when he returned to Ann Hathaway. Compared to the common superstition that ghosts are only of the dead, what does Stephen's theory suggest is the relation between the folk idea of a ghost and memory? If one can become a ghost simply through absence, then is a ghost just a trace in memory of a person no longer present?
She is drowning. Agenbite. Save her. Agenbite. All against us. She will drown me with her, eyes and hair. Lank coils of seaweed hair around me, my heart, my soul. Salt green death.
Agenbite of inwit. Inwit's agenbite.
Misery! Misery! (10.477-480)
Here, in "Wandering Rocks," Stephen's image of his sister mingles with his nightmare of his dead mother. His guilt over his mother's death and his guilt over not helping his sister out of her situation mingle to the point that they are indistinguishable. Does memory inhabit the present in this way? If it does, what might you take to be the purpose? In the scene, does Stephen's memory of his mother prompt or inhibit action?
Has he forgotten this as he forgets all benefits received? Or is it that from being a deluder of others he has become at last his own dupe as he is, if report belie him not his own and his only enjoyer? (14.35)
In the savage style of the 18th century satirist Junius, the narrator here observes that Bloom has been judging the men around him for being insensitive, and that this thought is, in fact, hypocritical. What we're interested in here is how hidden self-interest (e.g. the desire to seem like a decent human being) can effect what one remembers and what one forgets. What role does self-interest play in memory? How can we become aware of the fact that our own desires are shaping our memories and deciding what we forget?
He is young Leopold, as in a retrospective arrangement, a mirror within a mirror (hey, presto!), he beholdeth himself. That young figure of then is seen, precious manly, walking on a nipping morning from the old house in Clambrassil to the high school, his book satchel on him bandolierwise, and in it a goodly hunk of wheaten loaf, a mother's thought. (14.38)
In imitation of the nostalgic style of the English essayist Charles Lamb, the narrator of "Oxen of the Sun" is here trying to capture what happens when Bloom thinks back to a younger version of himself. Our question is here is quite pointed: Would self-reflection be possible without memory? What role does memory play in self-reflection and self-evaluation?
"Stop twirling your thumbs and have a good old thunk. See, you have forgotten. Exercise your mnemotechnic. La cause è santa. Tara. Tara." (15.481)
Here, in "Circe," Bloom has a vision of his grandfather. Bloom is complaining to his grandfather that he feels sexually inadequate, and Lipoti Virag tells him to try to use a "mnemotechnic" (memory device). Why has sex become a matter of memory for Bloom? How does Bloom live out his sexual life through memory and the past?
What suggested scene was then reconstructed by Bloom?
The Queen's Hotel, Ennis, County Clare, where Rudolph Bloom (Rudolph Virag) died on the evening of the 27 June 1886, at some hour unstated, in consequence of an overdoes of monkshood (aconite) selfadministered in the form of a neuralgic liniment, composed of 2 parts of aconite liniment to 1 of chloroform liniment (purchased by him at 10:20 a.m. on the morning of 27 June 1886 at the medical hall of Francis Dennehy, 17 Church street, Ennis) after having, though not in consequence of having, purchased at 3.15 p.m. on the afternoon of 27 June 1886 a new boater straw hat, extra smart (after having, though not in consequence of having, purchased at the hour and in the place aforesaid, the toxin aforesaid), at the general drapery store of James Cullen, 4 Main Street, Ennis. (17.86)
In this scene from "Ithaca," Stephen's scene at Queen's Hotel sets off a memory for Bloom of his father Rudolph committing suicide. The memory is clearly elaborated on and particularized by the narrator. What parts of this memory do you think come from Bloom and what parts are embellished? Do we tend to remember days and dates and addresses or do we focus more on particular details and experiences? Does this tendency change when an event is especially personal and painful? If so, why might it change?
He asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. (18.783)
These being the last lines of the novel, they could be placed in a number of different "Theme" categories. As you'll notice, though, there are simply too many good quotes for us to repeat them. So we're going to look at these lines in terms of memory and the past. Molly's last lines are resounding lines of affirmation. Does the fact that this affirmation is remembered undermine it? Would it be more powerful if she was thinking these thoughts in relation to the present than to the past? Is she thinking this in relation to the present or the past or both? Does this promise of happiness get undercut by the fact that it is remembered or is happiness sustained through memory?
These heavy sands are language tide and wind have silted here. (3.62)
What does this thought of Stephen's say about the role of language in relation to the past? Can language become eroded, can it become washed up on the beach like heavy sands? Just how much is our relationship to the physical world around us mediated by language? What effect does time have on the language that we use?
He took the hilt of his ashplant, lunging it softly, dallying still. Yes, evening will find itself in me, without me. All days make their end. (3.90)
This is one of Stephen's thoughts toward the very end of the "Proteus" episode. To what extent do we think of time as something separate from us? To what extent is it a personal concept? What gives time personal meaning and significance? Is it just a set of measurements that help us keep track of our days?
Mr Bloom turned over idly pages of The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, then of Aristotle's Masterpiece. Crooked botched print. Plates: infants cuddled in a ball in bloodred wombs like livers of slaughtered cows. Lots of them like that at this moment all over the world. All butting with their skulls to get out of it. Child born every minute somewhere. Mrs Purefoy. (10.347)
Bloom speculates idly in "The Wandering Rocks." The passage interests us because people tend to think of time largely in relation to themselves. Time seems vertical, meaning that one moment follows the next but we don't think about all the different things that happen in each of those moments. Here, time seems horizontal. Bloom is thinking broadly about what happens all over the world with each ticking of the minute hand on a clock. How is this idea of horizontal time applicable to the chapter of "The Wandering Rocks" at large?
Back of everything magnetism. Earth for instance pulling this and being pulled. That causes movement. And time? Well that's the time the movement takes. Then if one thing stopped the whole ghesabo would stop bit by bit. Because it's arranged. Magnetic needle tells you what's going on in the sun, the stars. Little piece of iron. (13.99)
In "Nausicaa," finding that his watch has stopped, Bloom begins to speculate on the nature of time. Considering that most of us don't fully understand how a watch works and that nobody understands how time itself works, in what ways is time a mystery? How can thinking about it change one's perspective on the events in the novel, especially since the novel itself is so carefully mapped out according to time?
Don't know what death is at that age. (13.114)
In "Nausicaa," this is one of Bloom's thoughts about his daughter Milly's confidence and enthusiasm for life. How can the passage of time make a thing more comprehensible? Why is it harder to imagine death when it's far off but not when we are closer to it? Isn't it unimaginable either way?
Therefore, everyman, look to that last end that is thy death and the dust that gripeth on every man that is born of woman for as he came naked forth from his mother's womb so naked shall he wend him at the last for to go as he came. (14.12)
In "Oxen of the Sun," the narrator mimics Middle English prose as he speculates on the nature of birth. Obviously, these lines could just as easily have gone in the "Mortality" section, but what we're interested in here is the religious view of time and how it ties into personal conceptions of time. How does the religious view of time differ from the sense of time we get by measuring it on a clock? If it weren't for death, do you think that we would even bother to measure time?
Time's ruins build eternity's mansions. What means this? Desire's wind blasts the thorntree but after it becomes from a bramblebush to be a rose upon the rood of time. (14.20)
Here are a few of Stephen's profound words in "Oxen of the Sun." What is the difference between time and eternity? When we think in terms of time, what things do we value? How do these values change when we think in terms of eternity? As an artist, Stephen tries to think in terms of eternity, but what does it even mean to think that way?
What relation existed between their ages?
16 years before in 1888 when Bloom was of Stephen's present age Stephen was 6. 16 years after in 1920 when Stephen would be of Bloom's present age Bloom would be 54. In 1936 when Bloom would be 70 and Stephen 54 their ages initially in the ratio of 16 to 0 would be 17 ½ to 13 1/2 , the proportion increasing and disparity diminishing according as arbitrary future years were added. (17.679)
Here, in the "Ithaca" episode, we note that Joyce plays with Stephen's and Bloom's ages as if it were a math problem. How does his playfulness effect how we think of the relationship between Stephen and Bloom's ages? How would the effect be different if he just gave us their ages straight out?
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 a future. (17.110-111)
Why would Stephen and Bloom have different experiences of the past and future based on their different ages? At what age do you think it is that more of your thoughts tend toward the past than toward the future? What role might our senses play in our experience of time (e.g. we smell breakfast, we intuit it's morning; we feel that it's cold, we conclude that the sun has gone down and it's evening)?
Shes restless knowing shes pretty with her lips so red a pity they wont stay that way I was too but theres no use going to the fair with the thing answering me like a fishwoman when I asked to go for a half a stone of potatoes the day we met. (18.767-768)
This is a clip of Molly's thought from "Penelope" where she is remembering her daughter Milly. What we're interested in here is how having children heightens and changes one's sense of time. How does having a child that resembles you effect how you think of time? Is it more complex than that it just makes you feel old? Does it also make time seem somehow circular, as if things are repeating themselves?
Thought is the thought of thought. (2.35)
This is a thought of Stephen's as he speculates on Aristotle and remembers his time in Paris in the episode "Nestor." Does this mean that thought can only lead to other thoughts and thus never actually sets a foot in the world? For example, when I think about a bicycle am I only thinking about a thought-bicycle (distinct from bicycles in the real world) or am I actually thinking about that thing in the world that we call a bicycle? If you have some time to kill, mull through the Gifford annotations around this passage and see what you can work out. Maybe it's more moderate. Thought is always different than things in the world, but is still somehow connected with them. How can you describe the relationship between thought and the world? Language and the world?
His shadow lay over the rocks as he bent, ending. Why not endless till the farthest star? Darkly they are there behind this light, darkness shining in the brightness, delta of Cassiopeia, worlds. Me sits there with his augur's rod of ash, in borrowed sandals, by day beside a livid sea, unbeheld, in violet night walking beneath a reign of uncouth stars. I throw this ended shadow from me, manshape ineluctable, call it back. Endless, would it be mine, form of my form? Who watches me here? Who ever anywhere will read these written words? Signs on a white field. Somewhere to someone in your flutiest voice. The good bishop of Cloyne took the veil of the temple out of his shovel hat: veil of space with coloured emblems hatched on its field. Hold hard. Coloured on a flat: yes, that's right. Flat I see, then think distance, near, far, flat I see, east, back. Ah, see now. Falls back suddenly, frozen in stereoscope. Click does the trick. You find my words dark. Darkness is in our souls, do you not think? Flutier. Our souls, shame-wounded by our sins, cling to us yet more, a woman to her lover clinging, the more the more. (3.78)
This quote gives a good sense of the stream-of-consciousness style in "Proteus." When we first read this, we thought this sounded like the thoughts of a man who had devoured encyclopedias and now had his mind on at full blast, as if he were hyped up on amphetamines or something. Do you find this an accurate portrayal of thought? If not accurate, what advantages does it have over the more traditional monologue form where the author is obligated to write in complete sentences? In what ways does Stephen associate goodness with being dark instead of bright?
"- Bosh!" Stephen said rudely. "A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery." (9.90)
In "Scylla and Charybdis," this is Stephen's response to John Eglinton's contention that Shakespeare made a mistake by marrying Ann Hathaway. There are two real statements here. First, a man of genius makes his errors by choice. Second, a man of genius can turn his errors into portals of discovery. Which of these do you agree with, if any? To what extent might Stephen's view of the artist be motivated by his own experience? What particular mistake of Stephen's might he have in mind? How is the fact that Stephen's life informs his theory actually a support of his theory that the artist and his work are inseparable?
"Fatherhood, in the sense of conscious begetting, is unknown to man. It is a mystical estate, an apostolic succession, from only begetter to only begotten. On that mystery and not on the madonna which the cunning Italian intellect flung to the mob of Europe the church is founded and founded irremovably because founded, like the world, macro- and micro-cosm, upon the void. Upon incertitude, upon unlikelihood. Amor matris, subjective and objective genitive, may be the only true thing in life. Paternity may be a legal fiction. Who is the father of any son that any son should love him or he any son?" (9.301)
Here, Stephen takes a typical church debate about whether or not Jesus was immaculately conceived and shifts it into another realm. No, Stephen says, that is not the main question. The main question is what it means to be a father versus a mother, especially because the father is so far removed from the birthing process (after donating his sperm). Stephen thinks that it takes a great deal of imagination to be a father, to imagine what it means and feels like to conceive a son. In what ways might Stephen's relationship with his own father shape his argument in this episode?
Every life is many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves. (9.373)
Stephen is here talking about the role of the artist, how all of his characters can be found in his own mind. To what extent can Stephen's comments be applied to real life? When we imagine the other people around us are we only projecting our beliefs and desires onto them, making them up out of the stuff of our own minds? Is Stephen arguing for solipsism (that nothing exists except one's own mind)? If not (hint: he's not), then how not?
Before born babe bliss had. Within womb won he worship. (14.7)
These lines come from near the start of "Oxen of the Sun." In literature and philosophy, there has been a long tradition of romanticizing life for birth. According to the philosopher Nietzsche, for example, the first great tragedy of life is being born. What does it mean to cultivate nostalgia for life in the womb, that moment when one is having all of one's needs filled without making the slightest effort, when life is in perfect balance? What view of life does that suggest? (Hint: it's not a happy one.)
"Pornosophical philotheology. Metaphysics in Mecklenburg street!" (15.21)
Lynch here derides Stephen's philosophizing as they approach Bella Cohen's brothel in "Circe." He combines four terms: pornography, philosophy, philology (the study of languages), and theology. How is this actually a good catch phrase for the view of life promoted in the book? Where are some instances of two seemingly disparate things being brought together, e.g. the sexual and the religious? Is there any philosophy in the book that is not woven tightly into the details of daily life?
"How? Very unpleasant. Noble art of self-pretence. Personally, I detect action. (He waves his hand.) Hand hurt me slightly. Enfin, ce sont vos oignons. (To Cissy Caffrey.) Some trouble is on here. What is it precisely?" (15.962)
These lines come from the end of "Circe" immediately after Private Carr asks Stephen how he would like to be hit in the jaw. Drunk as he is, Stephen is still speaking some truth. In particular, he does detest action and maintain a theory of passivity. For Stephen, what matters is intensity of thought and firmness of conviction. How can passivity be a theory of life? What external circumstances of Stephen's (his life in Ireland, the influence of England the Church, his own guilt) might shape his particular theory of life?
Did Stephen participate in his dejection?
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)
Alright, let's parse this. First, Stephen is a rational person who knows some things and doesn't know others. He can use logic ("proceed syllogistically") from the things he knows to other things he doesn't know. As a "reagent," one who acts in the world, Stephen lives between his own world of Dublin and teaching ("micro-") and the great big universe that he doesn't understand ("macrocosm"). According to the skeptical position, nothing can ever be known for certain because your mind could be deceiving you in some way or another. Thus, Stephen's life is "constructed upon the incertitude of the void." How might this complex philosophical thought be comforting for Stephen?
Both then were silent? Silent, each contemplating the other in both mirrors of the reciprocal flesh of theirhisnothis fellowfaces. (17.168)
Here, Bloom is showing Stephen out his back door in the middle of the night. They pause for a moment before Stephen departs. How does Joyce's wordplay here reflect his understanding of how the two men are relating to one another? Why would one man's flesh be a reflection of the other? What does it say about empathy, about how two people struggle to understand one another?
"- You're not a believer, are you?" Haines asked. "I mean, a believer in the narrow sense of the word. Creation from nothing and miracles and a personal God."
"- There's only sense of the word, it seems to me," Stephen said. (1.289-290)
Is Stephen right that there is only one sense of the word "believe?" Obviously Stephen does not like Haines or his condescending attitude. Is his answer in some way a reflection of his dislike for Haines? Is the belief question an intellectual question for Stephen or is it something else?
From the playfield the boys raised a shout. A whirring whistle: goal…
"- The ways of the Creator are not our ways," Mr. Deasy said. "All history moves towards one great goal, the manifestation of God."
Stephen jerked his thumb towards the window, saying:
"- That is God…"
"- What?" Mr Deasy asked.
"- A shout in the street," Stephen answered, shrugging his shoulders." (2.159-165)
We note that Stephen's assertion that God is a shout in the street is actually an expression of belief (and not of atheism). What different views of God are Stephen and Mr. Deasy arguing? Does Mr. Deasy's theory now allow for God to be present in the moment? Does Stephen's theory contradict more traditional religious beliefs?
Cousin Stephen, you will never be a saint. Isle of saints. You were awfully holy, weren't you? You prayed to the Blessed Virgin that you might have a red nose. You prayed to the devil in Serpentine avenue from the fubsy widow in front might lift her clothes still more from the wet street. O si, certo! Sell your soul for that, do, dyed rags pinned round a squaw. More tell me, more still! On the top of the Howth tram alone crying to the rain: naked women! What about that, eh? (3.36)
In "Proteus," Stephen is remembering the Stephen that we knew in Portrait. That Stephen was deeply religious, striving to be good, but was also tempted by prostitutes and sexual desire. How does Stephen's memory of being such a religious young man shape the man that he is today? How do the values instilled him by religion make him so stubborn in his current beliefs against religion?
"But, ladies and gentlemen, had the youthful Moses listened to and accepted that view of life, had he bowed his head and bowed his will and bowed his spirit before that arrogant admonition he would never have brought the chosen people out of their house of bondage nor followed the pillar of the cloud by day. He would never have spoken with the Eternal amid lightnings on Sinai's mountaintop nor ever have come down with the light of inspiration shining in his countenance and bearing in his arms the tables of the law, graven in the language of the outlaw." (7.433)
Here Professor MacHugh is reciting a piece of oratory by John F. Taylor in the newspaper offices at the Freeman in "Aeolus." Why would he compare Ireland's political struggle to that of Moses and the Jews in Egypt? How is it that the men can draw such a blatant comparison between the struggle of the Jews and that of the Irish and yet still act anti-Semitic on a daily basis?
Blood of the Lamb.
His slow feet walked him riverward, reading. Are you saved? All are washed in the blood of the lamb. God wants blood victim. Birth, hymen, martyr, war, foundation of a building, sacrifice, kidney burntoffering, druid's altars. Elijah is coming. Dr John Alexander Dowie, restorer of the church in Zion, is coming. (8.5-6)
Here, near the start of "Lestrygonians," Bloom gets handed a throwaway paper with a religious sermon printed on it. This begins the association of Bloom with the prophet Elijah that will persist throughout the book. What is the view of religion offered by the clips from the throwaway paper? How does it compare to the more mature view of Stephen Dedalus? In what ways is Bloom prophetic? What does it mean to associate an ordinary man with a prophet?
"I believe, O Lord, help my unbelief. That is, help me to believe or help me to unbelieve? Who helps to believe? Egomen. Who to unbelieve? Other chap." (9.386)
In "Scylla and Charybdis," Stephen has just been asked by John Eglinton if he believes in the theory that he has presented to the men. He says no, and then this is his thought. Stephen is quoting a line from the Gospel of Mark (9:24), but what does Stephen want to believe in. What does Stephen already believe in and where does his faith fall short? Is his belief still religious or is it only related to his own art? How is Stephen using these lines in a different sense than Mark did in the gospel.
A bargeman with a hat of dirty straw seated amidships, smoking and staring at a branch of poplar above him. It was idyllic: and Father Conmee reflected on the providence of the Creator who had made turf to be in bogs where men might dig it out and bring it to town and hamlet to make fires in the houses of poor people. (10.32)
Here is a bit of Father Conmee's thoughts from "Wandering Rocks." His thoughts are always extremely pious and simple. Do you find these thoughts an accurate portrayal of the way a priest might think? Do they seem to be parodying religious thought? If parody, is it over-done or do you think that it still makes a point about the ways in which strictly orthodox thought is confined?
When, lo, there came about them all a great brightness and they beheld the chariot wherein He stood ascend to heaven. And they beheld Him in the chariot, clothed upon in the glory of the brightness, having raiment as of the sun, fair as the moon and terrible that for awe they durst not look upon Him. And there came a voice out of heaven, calling: Elijah! Elijah! And he answered with a main cry: Abba! Adonai! And they beheld Him even Him, ben Bloom Elijah, amid clouds of angels ascend to the glory of the brightness at an angle of fortyfive degrees over Donohoe's in Little Green Street like a shot off a shovel. (12.561)
This is the final image from "Cyclops." As Martin Cunningham's carriage pulls away with Bloom and the citizen yelling at one another, the episode takes on biblical language and portrays Bloom as the prophet Elijah ascending up to heaven. Does the religious language seem parodic or sincere or both? How is it possible for something to be a parody and to still communicate some sort of truth?
He said also how at the end of the second month a human soul was infused and how in all our holy mother foldeth ever souls for God's greater glory whereas that earthly mother which was but a dam to bring forth beastly should die by canon for so saith he that holdeth the fisherman's seal. (14.19)
Stephen is rambling drunkenly in "Oxen of the Sun." He's here spouting off about the Church's teachings on when exactly the soul enters the body. What we're particularly interested in here, though, is how the style alters the affect of the religious words. Try re-writing these lines in plain modern English. Does one seem more legitimate or profound than the other? Tie this into particular details of the style and see if you can figure out where the difference in effect originates.
"- Simple? I shouldn't think that is the proper word. Of course, I grant you, to concede a point, you do knock across a simple soul once in a blue moon. But what I am anxious to arrive at is it is one thing for instance to invent those rays Röntgen did, or the telescope like Edison, though I believe it was before his time, Galileo was the man I mean. The same applies to the laws, for example, of a farreaching natural phenomenon such as electricity but it's a horse of quite another colour to say you believe in the existence of a supernatural God."
"- O, that," Stephen expostulated, "has been proved conclusively by several of the best known passages in Holy Writ, apart from circumstantial evidence." (16.151-152)
Here, in "Eumaeus," Bloom presses the point on whether or not there is such a thing as the human soul. Stephen, still drunk and groggy from his absinthe, isn't too enthused about the discussion. Plus he doesn't like when people disagree with him. Does Bloom's intense scientism leave any room for religion or spirituality? Is Stephen's answer earnest? If it's ironic, why doesn't he answer Bloom straight? What might a straight answer from Stephen look like?
Haines detached from his underlip some fibres of tobacco before he spoke.
"- I can quite understand that, he said calmly. An Irishman must think like that, I daresay. We feel in England that we have treated you rather unfairly. It seems history is to blame." (1.306-307)
Haines, an Englishman, is here exposed to Stephen's feeling that the Irish are oppressed by the English (they were). In what way is Haines response a failure to empathize with the situation of the Irish? What does it mean that "history is to blame?" Who is actually responsible if "history" is to blame?"
"- I knew you couldn't," he said joyously. "But one day you must feel it. We are a generous people but we must also be just."
"- I fear those big words," Stephen said, "which make us so unhappy." (2.121-122)
Mr. Deasy has just asked Stephen if he could say that he has paid his way. Stephen admits that this is not true, and Mr. Deasy makes his call for justice. Why does Mr. Deasy's invocation of justice threaten to make Stephen unhappy? What does "justice" mean when it comes out of the mouth of an Englishman versus an Irishman?
"A woman brought sin into the world. For a woman who was no better than she should be, Helen, the runaway wife of Menelaus, ten years the Greeks made war on Troy. A faithless wife first brought the strangers to our shore here, MacMurrough's wife and her leman O'Rourke, prince of Breffni. A woman too brought Parnell low. Many errors, many failures but not the one sin. I am a struggler now at the end of my days. But I will fight for the right till the end." (2.167)
Here, in "Nestor," Mr. Deasy is looking for another scapegoat; this time it's women. We later learn that Deasy's wife treats him horribly and goes and pawns their furniture on the weekends. How does anger over a personal incident turns into a real prejudice? Why would Deasy hide his personal anger with prejudice?
Mr. Deasy halted, breathing hard and swallowing his breath.
"- I just wanted to say," he said. "Ireland, they say, has the honour of being the only country which never persecuted the jews. Do you know that? No. And do you know why?"
He frowned sternly on the bright air.
"- Why sir?" Stephen asked, beginning to smile.
"- Because she never let them in," Mr. Deasy said solemnly.
A coughball of laughter leaped from his throat dragging after it a rattling chain of phlegm." (2.191-196)
As an Englishman, why would Mr. Deasy find the joke funny? Do you think that the disgusting description of his laughter afterward might capture the fact that Stephen is repulsed by what he says?
Mr Dedalus looked after the stumping figure and said mildly:
"- The devil break the hasp of your back!"
Mr Power, collapsing in laughter, shaded his face from the window as the carriage passed Gray's statue.
"- We have all been there," Martin Cunningham said broadly.
His eyes met Mr Bloom's eyes. He caressed his beard, adding:
"- Well, nearly all of us." (6.111-116)
In "Hades," Simon Dedalus shouts out at the Jewish moneylender Reuben J. Dodd as they ride in the carriage on the way to Dignam's funeral. The prejudiced comment is clearly directed at Dodd, but Dedalus doesn't consider that Bloom is also Jewish, which Martin Cunningham clearly does. How is prejudice different when it's directed at one person of a group and not another? How does this reveal the lie about prejudice?
"- Whose God?" Says the citizen.
"- Well, his uncle was a jew," says he. "Your God was a jew. Christ was a jew like me." (12.542-3)
For the record, Bloom is right. Why is this the most enraging thing that he could possibly say to the citizen?
"I'll wring the neck of any fucking bastard says a word against my bleeding fucking king." (15.1023)
These are Private Carr's words shortly before he socks Stephen in the jaw at the end of "Circe." There are a lot of factors at work here. One is Carr and Stephen's drunkenness. Another factor has to do with Carr's pride over the girl he has picked up, Cissy Caffrey. And still another factor deals with the crowd that has gathered around them and is urging Carr toward action. Why does all of his anger come to gather around nationalism? How is unthinking loyalty to the English king in Ireland an act of prejudice?
"So I, without deviating from plain facts in the least, told him his God, I mean Christ, was a jew too, and all his family, like me, though in reality I'm not. That was one for him. A soft answer turns away wrath. He hadn't a word to say for himself as everyone saw. Am I not right." (16.193)
Here, in "Eumaeus," Bloom recounts his fight with the citizen for Stephen. What do you make of the fact that Bloom proudly tells of how he talked down the citizen's prejudice, but then lies to Stephen and tells him that he is not a Jew? Why might he want to hide the fact that he is a Jew from Stephen?
"-Of course," Mr. Bloom proceeded to stipulate, "you must look at both sides of the question. It is hard to lay down any hard and fast rules as to right and wrong but room for improvement all round there certainly is though every country, they say, our own distressful included, has the government it deserves. But with a little goodwill all round. It's all very fine to boast of mutual superiority but what about mutual equality? I resent violence or intolerance in any shape or form. It never reaches anything or stops anything. A revolution must come on the due instalments plan." (16.196)
Bloom has just finished bragging about his encounter with the citizen in "Eumaeus." He is now preaching to Stephen about the importance of moderation and pacifism. Do the words strike you as true? Is there something about his tone that undermines his words? Is it possible for a statement to be correct but to somehow be false based on how it is delivered?
Condense Stephen's commentary.
One of all, the least of all, is the victim predestined. Once by inadvertence, twice by design he challenges his destiny. It comes when he is abandoned and challenges him reluctant and, as an apparition of hope and youth holds him unresisting. It leads him to a strange habitation, to a secret infidel apartment, and there, implacable, immolates him, consenting.
Why was the host (victim predestined) sad?
He wished that a tale of a deed should be told of a deed not by him should by him not be told. (17.119-120)
In "Ithaca," Stephen has just recited an anti-Semitic legend at Bloom's request. He offers a reading of the legend that presents both himself and Bloom as victims, but Bloom is still despondent. How could Stephen be so crass? Why is Bloom sad? Is it just the anti-Semitic content of Stephen's poem or the fact that there is now some distance between them or is it something else?
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?
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.
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?
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?
More room if they buried them standing. Sitting or kneeling you couldn't. Standing? His head might come up some day above ground in a landslip with his hand pointing. All honeycombed the ground must be: oblong cells. (6.330)
At Dignam's funeral, Bloom can't help but think absurd thoughts about what we do with the dead. Is it possible to view death in a humorous light? Is Bloom just avoiding his own fear of death and sadness over the loss of his father and son by trying to be funny? Is it possible for death to be funny and frightening and sad all at once?
A fellow could live on his lonesome all his life. Yes, he could. Still he'd have to get someone to sod him after he died though he could dig his own grave. We all do. Only man buries. No ants too. First thing strikes anybody. Bury the dead. (6.337)
Here, Bloom lets his mind wander at Dignam's funeral. Aside from its practicality, what is the human obsession with burying the dead? Is it a way of hiding the dead, of forcing the thought of death from our lives? How has it become such a large ritual? Is Bloom, by letting his mind wander to such random thoughts, disrespecting the memory of the dead?
Bam! Expires. Gone at last. People talk about you a bit: forget you. Don't forget to pray for him. Remember him in your prayers. Even Parnell. Ivy day dying out. Then they follow: dropping into a hole one after the other. (6.345)
How is death the great leveler? How does it show what we all have in common? Does Bloom's vernacular (everyday) speech seem more or less profound than the heightened Catholic speech: "Your are dust and to dust you shall return"?
"As we, or mother Dana, weave and unweave our bodies," Stephen said, "from day to day, their molecules shuttled to and fro, so does the artist weave and unweave his image. And as the mole on my right breast is where it was when I was born, though all my body has been woven of the new stuff time after time, so through the ghost of the unquiet father the image of the unloving son looks forth." (9.145)
This is a part of Stephen's Hamlet argument in "Scylla and Charybdis." Does it seem that the idea of the body being woven and unwoven time after time could change one's notion of what it means to be mortal? If the body has been remade of entirely new stuff over and again, could that mean, in a way, that the body has already died many times? Since that old material of the body is presumably somewhere else in nature, does that make life seem less confined to individual people? Does it soften one's idea of mortality?
"For sirs, he said, our lust is brief. We are means to those small creatures within us and nature has other ends than we." (14.19)
Stephen is drunkenly pontificating in "Oxen of the Sun." What he's getting at here is that we always think of ourselves as somehow distinguished and set off from nature, but what if we are simply means to an end. Here's an analogy. Some people cultivate bacteria just in order to give cheese a certain taste. What if we're just the bacteria and there's some bigger cheese that we can't see? How does it change our view of mortality if we think of our whole lives as just some means to another of nature's ends?
Stephen's mother, emaciated, rises stark through the floor in leper gray with a wreath of faded orange blossoms and a torn bridal veil, her face worn and noseless, green with grave mould. Her hair is scant and lank. She fixes her bluecircled hollow eyesockets on Stephen and opens her toothless mouth uttering a silent word. (15.894)
Here, drunk on absinthe and dancing in Bella Cohen's brothel, Stephen has a vision of his dead mother urging him to repent. Why is it that in imagining death all we can imagine is a corpse or a skeleton? What else might death look like? What does it say about Stephen's guilt over his mother's death that she appears to him as a disgusting corpse instead of as she looked before she died?
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. (17.156)
Bloom is here in the process of showing Stephen out his back door in the middle of the night. The thought itself is no doubt articulated much more clearly by the narrator (whoever that is) than it actually is in Bloom's head. But what about his current situation would get him thinking about the transience of life in such detail? Why here with Stephen? Why so late at night?
"Yes, of course," [Mulligan] said, as they went on again. "Either you believe or you don't, isn't it? Personally I couldn't stomach that idea of a personal God. You don't stand for that, I suppose?"
"You behold in me," Stephen said with grim displeasure, "a horrible example of free thought." (1.294-295)
What is Haines misunderstanding here? Stephen also has trouble stomaching the idea of a personal God, but what is the difference between his free-thinking and that of Haines and Mulligan? Why does Stephen have so much trouble with the idea of being a free thinker? What personal cares and connections does he have that the other two lack?
"After all, I should think you are able to free yourself. You are your own master, it seems to me.
I am the servant of two masters," Stephen said, "an English and an Italian." (1.299-300)
In "Telemachus," Haines is trying to understand why Stephen feels so oppressed. Here, Stephen refers to English oppression and the Roman Catholic Church (the "Italian" masters). Both were extremely dominant in Dublin life, but why should a free thinker like Stephen still feel that they are his masters? Educated as he is, couldn't he just break from their influence?
"History," Stephen said, "is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake." (2.158)
What control does one have over one's actions in dreams and nightmares? Why would Irish history seem like a nightmare to Stephen? How, as an individual, might he awaken from the history of his nation?
Reading two pages apiece of seven books every night, eh? I was young. You bowed to yourself in the mirror, stepping forward to applause earnestly, striking face. Hurray for the God-damned idiot! Hray! No-one saw: tell no-one. Books you were going to write with letters for titles. Have you read his F? O yes, but I prefer Q. Yes, but W is wonderful. O yes, W. Remember your epiphanies on green oval leaves, deeply deep, copies to be sent if you died to all the great libraries of the world, including Alexandria? Someone was to read them there after a few thousand years, a mahamanvantara. Pico della Mirandola like. Ay, very like a whale. When one reads these strange pages of one long gone one feels that one is at one with one who once… (3.38)
This is some of Stephen's stream-of-consciousness from "Proteus" where we get a glimpse of his enormous ambition and also his ability to make fun of himself. How does ambition imprison Stephen inside his own mind? What about Stephen's fear that he won't fulfill his ambition? How does Stephen's ability to make fun of himself bend the bars of the prison a wee bit?
Mr. Bloom reviewed the nails of his left hand, then those of his right hand. The nails, yes. Is there anything more in him than they she sees? Fascination. Worst man in Dublin. That keeps him alive. They sometimes feel what a person is. Instinct. But a type like that. My nails. I am just looking at them: well pared. And after: thinking alone. (6.89)
We're in the "Hades" episode and the men's carriage has just passed Blazes Boylan. All the other men salute him and Bloom begins checking out his fingernails. How does this instinct show the way in which Bloom is trapped in his situation? What would Bloom's other alternatives be today (other than letting the affair happen)? In what ways do the society men confine Bloom?
"The sentimentalist is he who would enjoy without incurring the immense debtorship for a thing done." (9.209)
Here is the telegram that Stephen sent to Mulligan after he missed their meeting at the ship. Mulligan now comes to the National Library to read the telegram aloud in front of all the gathered men. What is the debt that a sentimentalist does not pay? How can the need to justify one's emotions to oneself (as if they were debts to be paid off) be incredibly confining? In what ways is Stephen a sentimentalist? Mulligan? What are Stephen's feelings about sentimentality that make him so much more anti-social than Mulligan?
He laughed to free his mind from his mind's bondage. (9.365)
This moment comes in "Scylla and Charybdis," as Stephen is building up to the peak of his argument on Shakespeare. What exactly is Stephen's "mind's bondage?" How would you describe it? How does laughter free him from this bondage? In what ways does laughter allow us to forget ourselves for a moment? Why would one want to forget oneself?
Ireland sober is Ireland free. (12.177)
This is Bloom's thought on drink as the curse of Ireland in the "Cyclops" episode. In an oppressed nation, where people are given to complaining of their oppression and remembering promises of independence in the past, how can alcohol be particularly confining? In what ways is drink also liberating? If drink is such a bad thing for Ireland, then why do men keep going to the bars every day?
"Ah non, par exemple! The intellectual imagination! With me all or not at all. Non serviam!" (15.915)
Drunk on absinthe, Stephen has just had a vision of his dead mother in Bella Cohen's brothel. She is begging him to repent and he denies her, swinging his ashplant desperately and breaking the chandelier overhead. To what extent does Stephen's behavior just seem silly or melodramatic in this scene? How can we take him seriously? Is Stephen right to still resist the urge to repent? What is he gaining by doing so?
"Id rather die 20 times over than marry another of their sex of course hed never find another woman like me to put up with him the way I do" (18.744).
In "Penelope," Molly thinks about how she would never marry again if given the opportunity. In what ways is Molly confined by their marriage? Is it through any overt fault of Bloom's? In what ways is she liberated by thinking that she is the only one that disapproves of their marriage and that Bloom would never leave her?