Episode 16: “Eumaeus” ~pp 596-649

Important Symbols & Phrases of Episode 16

  • “Everyone according …to his deeds”: It’s said that while young Dedalus is an anarchist, Bloom is utopian. Public works projects funded by the Corporation occupy Poldy’s train of thought. The cattle conveyance he contemplates would provide pedestrian-safe, fast and efficient stock movement between the market and the harbor. In younger days Bloom may have leaned toward radicalism. Even in this episode, he supports the use of public funds to reclaim land from tenant landlords but moderates objecting to the “destruction of the fittest.” He has moved away from Marx’s maxim “every man according to his needs.” Now a mensch of demonstrable charity and kind intention, Mr. Bloom misspeaks but inadvertently preaches merit proven by action over entitlement.
  •  “Belladonna voglio”: Bloom attempts “I want a beautiful woman.” He inadvertently revisits the subject of poison and his father’s suicide.
  • Murphys all in a row: In 1890 Ireland, Murphy was the most common name with a demographic of 62,600 souls. It was the most common name due to its frequency in Dublin, Wicklow and Cork (IrishGeneology.com) It’s not notable to have the name appear in any Irish novel. In Ulysses, however, the number of occurrences seems exceptional. The references lead us to a particular course. Murphy sightings in the novel include Patriot Fr. John Murphy (links Church and nationalism), Martin Murphy the Bantry jobber, Palgrave, Murphy nautical shipping company, Murphy used as a substitute for Morpheus (“wrapped in the arms of Murphy”), W.B. Murphy, (commuter ship from Carrigaloe to Cork), Wynn’s a Commercial and Family Hotel, D.J. Murphy, Proprietor, murphy (also mickey) is the Irish-American slang for the potato (like Bloom’s lucky potato.) No name in Ireland may be more common but these trail markers point us to the iconic Sinbad Odysseus Murphy. Another Odysseus who stays too long from his home, a warning of what Bloom might have become.
  • “Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife “: Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” warns about the intransigence of human life and memorials. Bloom, the unsung wanderer, will be mourned perhaps intermittently for a generation if Milly survives. Dedalus might recall his benefactor after the blush is gone from the Bloom. Bloom and Dedalus forsake society and separate themselves from the mob. Among the reasons for the Citizen’s spite for Bloom, is Bloom’s work for the symbolically titled Freeman’s Journal. The Cyclops prefers Griffith’s anti-Semitic United Irishmen. Mulligan and Powell, for example, are obstacles, disapproving and distracting them from artistic and humanitarian missions. “Their sober wishes never learned to stray: Along the sequester’d vale of life. They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.” This is all fitting of Gray’s iconic poem, but Bloom, Dedalus, and Joyce have all nonetheless become immortal beyond the churchyard.
  • Parnell’s Hat: At his lowest point, Parnell’s dignity is dinged as he is jostled by a crucifixion-thirsty mob. His hat is dislodged. Bloom with characteristic concern retrieves and returns the hat. In discussing the role of hats at the Dignam funeral, we called it an appurtenance of dignity. Menton, you will recall, at first, rejects Poldy’s attempt to restore his dignity. Parnell accepted and acknowledged the kindness. In this episode Bloom reminisces long about Parnell, adultery, and fall from grace. He feels great empathy for Parnell. Both Bloom and Parnell are outside the circle of Irish Catholicism despite the good they do for their detractors. The narrator reports Poldy’s contemplation of Parnell’s treatment by those he served:…thereby heaping coals of fire on his head” a phrase taken out of context from the Epistles: “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; If he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” This was Leopold’s manner in mangled axiom— to feed the hand that bit him.
  • “…fairwell and adieu to you Spanish ….”:… ladies says the lyric of a seafarer’s song. This son was dredged by fifty years after Joyce by Peter Bencheley perhaps in homage to Murphy. Bencheley makes the ditty the favorite song of another tainted sailor, Captain Quint in Jaws.
  • technic: The episodes “Telemachus” and “Eumaeus” both employ narrative. In the first, the characters all but one are young. In the latter, all but one are middle-aged or old (Gilbert). They also seem to share a thread of duplicitousness, Mulligan’s machinations and Pseudangelos Murphy’s web of meaningless invention. Lefthandedness is also mentioned by Gilbert. Corley enters stage left, Simon Dedalus shot left-handed, people falling from Howth are said to land on left legs. All indications of dishonesty, but Bloom takes Stephen’s right hand with his left. Gilbert calls this “an unusual and symbolic gesture.” Stephen still recoils at Bloom’s touch.
  • “…the kind of sloppy, imprecise language you get from prep school boys writing essays.”: This from Campbell on the composition of this episode. Shocked? Don’t be. It’s delivered as praise of Joyce’s skill, not criticism. The stumbling sentences demonstrate fatigue and for Stephen inebriation after this Bloomsnight’s work. Examples abound:” “Count me out, he managed to remark, meaning work.”; “Taken a few years since. In or about ninety six. Very like her then.”; “At what o’clock did you dine?” There are many more examples. It will “groggy you” to read them. Gilbert also comments on Joyce’s deftness in demonstrating exhaustion. Budgen says, “Sentences yawn, stumble become involved and wander into blind alleys.” The examples are found in both dialog and narrative. 
  • “a wise son”: Bloom’s thought previously that it’s a wise father who knows his son. In “Eumaeus,” Stephen now recognizes his spiritual father in Bloom as Telemachus recognized his disguised father when Athena increases “his bloom, (Tindall).” Stephen looks into Bloom’s eyes and understands his identity: “Christus or Bloom his name is, or, after all, any other, secundum carnem.”


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