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Stephen and the Dogs

Monday, September 7, 2009; 01:05 am Leave a comment Go to comments

Animals come up throughout the first section of Ulysses. However, the importance and symbolism of many of these moments are covered thoroughly by either the summaries linked on Ashplant or by The New Bloomsday Book. Consequently, I will not cover all of the instances involving animals in the reading, but will instead focus my comments on sections where I feel I have something to add that is not covered in any of our supplemental reading material.
A particular section that I feel I can expand on comes from Stephen’s interactions with the dead and living dog in chapter three. Stephen sees the dead dog’s carcass in line 285, and a paragraph later he encounters the live dog who he is terrified will attack him. Interestingly, Stephen eventually witnesses the dog urinate against a rock (line 356), an action which Stephen repeats later in the chapter (line 452). From this connection, I started viewing the dog as a possible symbol of Stephen. This does not seem like a huge stretch since there are other connections between the dog and Stephen. For example, Blamires points out that Joyce connects the “Fox burying his grandmother” riddle to the dog in line 359, and Blamires also offers that the riddle is linked to Stephen’s burying of his mother (Blamires, 11). If this connection is accepted, Stephen’s fear of the dog could reflect a fear of himself.
Looking at other actions of the dog, more aspects of Stephen’s personality are revealed (ex. Stephen’s preoccupation with death reflected through the live dog prodding at the dead dog’s corpse (line 347)). However, I feel like many of these “insights” into Stephen’s personality, as seen through the dog, have most likely already been recognized by the reader. Having said that, the idea that Stephen fears himself seemed to me like a new concept introduced in the story. Unfortunately, I am at a loss of where to go with this idea, and would like to hear the classes’ thoughts on the matter.

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