Episode 11: Sirens, ~pp 252-286

Important Symbols & Phrases of Episode 11

  • Bloo smi qui go Ternoon.”: Gifford and Seidman translate for us: “Bloom smiled quick go. Afternoon.” They also advise “ternoon” is printer’s jargon for groups of three, Bloom bound in isosceles loves – Stephen/Bloom/Molly, Molly/Bloom/Boylan, Bloom/Molly/Martha.
  • Old Dedalus sings “M’appari”: …with Lyrics bringing us back to Bloom-Pseudonomen’s tryst, “Martha, ah, Martha/ Come thou lost one/Come, thou dear one. /”reminding us that “Blew Blue Bloom is on the rye” (also Gifford and Seidman).
  • Greaseabloom: Like Odysseus, Leopold Bloom has alternate names and guises on his travels. This episode includes a litany of shortenings and verbings of the Bloom family name. Like Greaseabloom the alterations are usually disparaging. Here it refers to a likeness with the unctuous apothecary of the sirens’ scorn. But on the Dublin tongue this sounds “grace-a-bloom.” Greaseabloom is fitting, better fitting than the evening clothes he shared with barrell-bellied Ben Dollard. Bloom is kind without regard to the station of the recipient of his generosity. He is a man who will place his order quickly to spare the steps of a sore-footed waiter. Bloom is comical and lowly on the surface, but on second glance, noble, generous, and substantial.
  • Gossip and Ulysses: When discussing the novel, William Tindall suggests that the best qualification for loving Ulysses is to love gossip. Once a hundred years have passed, not much harm can come of speaking ill of Mulligan/Gogarty, Denis Breen, Nosey Flynn, et al.
  • Sonnez la cloche: Lenehan, pilotfish for sexual sharks, here pesters Miss Douce to snap her garter announcing the appointed time for Boylan’s encounter with Mrs. Bloom. A third of the episode has elapsed before 4 o’clock sounds. Perhaps Bloom delayed the passing of time by wishing it so.
  • Anima and La Sonnambula: Both the reference to the sleepwalker and the female spirit foretell Bloom’s experience in the “Circe” episode. He will be in a dream state, and his feminine side will emerge.
  • Like Young Dedalus, the blind piano tuner is jostled by Dublin’s insensitive citizenry (Farrell). He plies an art turning metal to sound perfect notes, making instrumental art and enabling the inspiration of those who sing. He is young, slight of build, and as sightless as Stephen with his ashplant tapping on the Strand. The piano tuner is guided by Bloom as Dedalus will be. Joseph Campbell explains the comparative mythology: Blindness is…” symbolic of the dynamic of the will just in space….The tap-tap is time, living in the field of time.”
  • Bald, deaf Pat: The Ormond is strewn with the bones of fallen men with tainted souls. Boylan, Lenehan, Simon, Backbroken Goulding, Barrellish Dollard, and Cowley the false priest all dance to the Sirens’ deadly tune. Bloom is distracted by Molly’s imminent appointment with Boylan and so avoids temptation. Pat, the waiter, must abide the Sirens. Were he not deaf, he too would surely be destroyed.
%d bloggers like this: