Episode 5, The Lotus Eaters, ~pp 70-85

Important Symbols & Phrases of Episode 5

  • Plumtree’s Potted Meat: Like the apple, the pomegranate, fig, grape even the tomato and the banana have been offered as the possible fruit of Eden’s Tree of Knowledge. Why not the plum? Gifford and Seidman tell us that “potted meat” is slang for intercourse, a rather accepted, available bond and comfort that might be expected of married life. Poldy and Molly have shared a home without the nourishment of potted meat for eleven years since the death of their son. Without it a home is incomplete.
  • McCoy and the unreturned valise: What traveller would need his valise more than Odysseus? Bloom is offended by McCoy’s habitual luggage larceny, still he is too deferential to demand its return.
  • Mohammed and the Sleeping Cat: Bloom’s mind chatters about the prophet’s stewardship of all sentient beings. Contrast this with the still immature Stephen’s fear of the dog on the beach. Bloom exhibits care for his cat and subsequently for gulls. His kindness will be repaid when he is put on trial for his many sins. One real indication of a practiced and advanced humanity may be kindness that extends beyond one’s species, race, faith, sexuality. So says my dog.
  • What’s in a name? Virag/Bloom/Flower: Like Odysseus, Bloom changes his name as situations dictate from the name of his father, to his immigrant’s translation into English, to his nom d’Tinder. You may think of this as disguise and deceit like Odysseus/NoMan, but transformation and growth may also be present. He remains committed to his floral essence even translating Martha’s letter into the “language of flowers.”
  • Martha, Mary(Marion): Bloom like that other rabbi might like to have two female correspondents one for conversational dalliance and another for domestic service.
  • Throwaway: Poldy dispenses graces that are seldom accepted by those he blesses. Alexander’s Throwaway did win the Ascot that day paying a lush return of twenty for one. Bloom is merely suggesting that he was about to discard the racing page. As also is customary, Bloom’s kindness will later imperil him.
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