Friday, September 16, 2011

Ulysses Chapter 16 - Eumaeus

Two chapters in two days? I think I'm more inspired on the downhill climb. I actually read this chapter in the public domain edition on the Kindle instead of listening to the audio. I'm not sure if this chapter is just more straight-forward than the others, or if I'm finally getting the rhythm of Joyce, but I felt like it was fairly easy to read and that I didn't need much of it explained to me. It must be the former, because Joyce has no rhythm. Every section and chapter changes!

In Eumaeus, Bloom has led Dedalus from the brothel and they are looking for a cab, but finding none, are slowly making their way through late-night Dublin. They end up at a bar that serves them coffee, where they meet an alleged sailor as well as one of Dedalus's young acquaintances. I hesitate to use the word "friend" with Stephen, because even the people who would typically be his friends don't seem to do a very good job of it. In fact, Bloom learns throughout the conversation that Stephen hasn't had anything to eat in two days. Booze, yes. Food, no.

Throughout their conversation, which is refreshingly clear of prostitutes, visions, and play-acting, Joyce seems to be illuminating the differences between the two men. These seem to start with work ethic, where Bloom seems to think that your morality and ethnic/religious background shouldn't matter if you work hard, and Dedalus is still clinging to the beliefs he waxed poetic on in The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - artistry being priority one, or priority only, really, and despite the fact that he hasn't had any food to eat and doesn't have any place to stay, his belief in that idea is still dictating his actions.

I particularly love the interchange between Bloom and Dedalus on identity coming from work or something else.
"...I suspect, Stephen interrupted, that Ireland must be important because it belongs to me."
And then later on:
"We can't change the country. Let us change the subject."
Stephen is so entrenched in his beliefs, at this point he doesn't even seem interested in debating them with Bloom, who represents the older parental figure that he has tried so hard to get away from.

I've peeked ahead a bit, and it looks like Chapter 17 is a question and answer dialogue type section between Bloom and Dedalus, I think once Bloom has him back at his house. I'll probably read that in the print too, because it might be easier going. However, I also peeked ahead to Chapter 18, and it looks like a few run-on sentences make up the entire thing, so it will be back to the audio for the finish!

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