House of Key(e)s: This refers obviously to Bloom’s ad for the grocer and wine merchant of that name and to his absent house key. In addition it refers to the crest of the Isle of Man. Surrounded in the Irish Sea by England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Man held little interest for invaders. The tap water isn’t even potable. The Celtic natives were usually left in peace by potential invaders. The Isle of Man is a dominion of the UK but not part of it and enjoys Home Rule. This is the significance of the keys on the parliament building (also known says Tindall as the House of Keys). Keys there are the symbol of Home Rule. A key might also be emblematic for Home Rule at Bloom’s 7 Eccles Street. MacLir the shape changing god of the sea evident in the Proteus Episode originated from the mythology of the Isle of Man. The isle is separate from the society of English domination to a great extent and enjoys the isolation. Currently Man is a tax haven for the wealthy and prospers from its isolation. Crawford jingles his keys as O’Connell did in the graveyard. Crossed keys decorate the Vatican flag too. These are all symbols of power according to Tindall.
The Haggadah: A “telling” shared by father with son at the Passover seder. Later in the novel a symbolic haggadah and seder will be shared.
Not Heart of the Metropolis but the Lungs:…William Tindall reminds us. The newsroom offers an inhalation and exhalation of characters entering and exiting, The presses underlay audible, rhythmic respiration and a fine collection of windbags, some present, others quoted in their absence.
Cloacae: The obsession of empires (British and Roman, others too like Minoan and Aztec) with carrying off its waste and devastation is consistent with the imperatives of imperialism. Out of sight, out of mind.
Blavatsky’s Planes of Consciousness: Helena Blavatsky, an internationally (in)famous spiritualist and charlatan, preached a metaphysical structure. The four lower stages were purely physical, but the tree higher realms promised the development of the physical world from human to universal to Divine. All three of these were within the grasp of the human being. Bloom at one time practiced the cabal of the Rosicrucian and would be susceptible to these teachings. Stephen might have been most interested in the universality of communing with his dead mother when he inquired about the planes of consciousness. Dr. Marc Connor of Washington and Lee University posits that Joyce’s intention in Ulysses is to show the transformation of the juvenile Stephen into the mature Bloom. This can be viewed as metamorphosis from Human to Universal development in Blavatsky’s schema.
The Pisgah Sight of Palestine or Parable of the Plums: Two very different symbolisms are at play in this fable. Spinster Servants of the empire, Enfeebled but treating their wounds with holy water from miraculous Lourdes or with a workingman’s beer climb the phallic obelisk dedicated to their Anglo Master. They become lightheaded for want of oxygen and a one-handed touch. In concupiscence, they spit plum pits from the erected tower. The contrasting image they view from atop Nelson’s Monument is the panorama of steeple after dome after spire of the Churches of Dublin. They are surrounded and awed by the English and Italian masters that Stephen swears not to serve (Note: after typing this last sentence, I see that Tindall noted this before me. Let’s credit Tindall.}. Like Moses, Stephen will never see the Promised Land accepting self-imposed exile. In fact, Joyce did return to Ireland for brief stays on a couple of occasions merely for the sake of business transactions.
Reception for the Young Scribbler: You might return here to compare the reception Stephen receives in the newsroom to one he will receive from intellectuals later at the library. Crawford wants Stephen to crank out copy for the paper. He is enthusiastic about young Dedalus’ abilities. Newsroom hangers-on, though welcoming of Stephen, are all failures and omens of what little might become of Stephen’s talent.