Important Themes of Episode 6
- “a cry in the street”: Bloom’s Humanism is evident in the recurrence of seed symbolic of the preservation of the species. It also appears as flaxseed tea and simmel seedcakes that sustain humans, dogs, and gulls. The dog biscuit sop for Cerberus gives Odysseus/Bloom access to Hades where the dead can be remembered and honored.
- Oxen, Cattle, and Horses: Cattle are being driven to the slaughterhouse.”Thursday, of course. Tomorrow is killing day. Springers. Cuffe sold them about twenty-seven quid each. For Liverpool probably. Roastbeef for old England. They buy up all the juicy ones. And then the fifth quarter lost: all that raw stuff, hide, hair, horns.”
- Scents: “Like snuff at a wake” refers to masking the odor of death.
- Suicide: Bloom ruminates about the suicide of his father. Additionally, he considers the suicide of King Saul, Shakespeare’s Romeo, Ophelia, Leah’s self-immolation, and Edgar in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. The other “mourners” find the attempted suicide of Rueben J. Dodd’s son to be comical. Here the topic focuses in part on the rippling effect of suicide from father onto son and son onto father.
- The Odyssey as a Substructure for Ulysses, Bloom as Odysseus: Until the end of The Odyssey, Odysseus is a traveler and outsider. Likewise, Bloom is a traveler and outsider. In the Hades episode, he is joined by other outsiders, M’Coy and Kernan. Cunningham interrupts Bloom’s story about Reuben Dodd’s son as he did M’Coy in “Grace.” Cunningham, Powers, and Simon Dedalus ignore Bloom’s feelings with insensitive and ignorant comments about Judaism and suicide (Tindall 160). Budgen notes an uncomfortable silence from Bloom’s companions in the funeral carriage when Bloom recommends a quick death. The Catholics aboard reject the common sense approach, feeling superior at the inaccessibility of Reconciliation and Last Rites to Mr. Bloom (87).
- The Exotic East: Bloom’s stream of consciousness flows past “Whores in Turkish graveyards.”
- Metempsychosis, Shared Experiences, Transformation and Shape-Changing: Here Bloom first sights of Stephen on that Bloomsday. That night they will become one shared identity. Anthony Burgess says that Bloom will be unconquered by death. He will gain “immortality through contact with the intellectual imagination– the poet” (118).