Another poster covered many of the points I identified about motherhood. However, I plan to reiterate and expand on these ideas in this post. Stephan gets characterized as childlike. Mulligan gives him the name “Kinch” which means child and also knife blade. Thoughout the novel he’s very immature. “Stephan filled a third cup, a spoonful of tea colouring faintly the thick rich milk.” (p.13) Stephan, unlike his compatriots, over uses milk like a baby at his mother’s breast. Earlier in this passage Joyce draws a connection between milk and mothering. As the old milk-woman pours milk Stephan observes, “Thence into the jug rich white milk, hot hers. Old shrunken paps.” (12) Stephan has “pain that was not yet the pain of love” frettering “his heart” when ruminating over his mother’s death. (5) He is so sexually immature that he can’t yet feel the pain of sexual love. This sentence also implies the Stephan’s love for his mother will ulitimately become sexual. In Stephan’s immaturity, he has clearly not yet given up his mother as his primary sexual desire; he has an incredibly Oedipal relationship with her. Furthermore when Stephan’s mother comes to him, he reminisces of “her breath that had bend upon him.” (5) This seems sexual to me. Joyce emphasizes in the passage about the milk maid that her milk comes from cows. I see Joyce drawing a parallel between between Stephan and a calf in the line “A scared calf’s face gilded with marmalade,” . (7) Furthermore this calf worries about debagging by oxen and this seems almost a homophobic/erotic fear? Homosexuality would fit with Stephan’s narrative in that according to psychoanalysis Stephan’s immaturity would confine him to the deviant domain of pre- “normal” heterosexuality.
I wonder what people think about this Oedipal relationship Stephan has with his mother and her as a symbol of the sea, the sea obviously linking Ireland and England ? I find this especially interesting given the Buck Mulligan accuses Stephan of killing his mother by denying her last wish.