Catholic Quickies: Oxen of the Sun
Okay, to add onto the post for Monday, I’m switching gears to look at Oxen of the Sun. There isn’t as much Marian playdoh to work with, for another feminine nurturing chapter. Indeed, the church seems to be working in a very negative light, when the medical students speak about it. I feel this is because we’re now seeing Catholicism through the eyes of Stephen’s generation, which like him may be moving away from the church for good, or are indulging in their rebellion against authority for the present. Indeed this ties in with the desecration of the hospital, which in many ways seems to be another rebellion against duty and authority. Dixon just wants to get off of work and go drinking, and Nurse Callan — the embodiment of authority — is derided when she asks for some decorum (321).
Indeed, Nurse Callan seems to work as the Virgin Mary in this episode, albeit in a very understated way. She attends the hospital in the role of Mother of the Church. She is most likely a virgin, given her “nine twelve blood flows” (316). While we have no idea about her immaculate conception, Nurse Callan is like a mother to all who labor in the hospital, and their children, touching upon the aspect of her mother-to-God. Compared to Gerty in Nausicaa, she is not overtly angelic, but in some ways she is the practical Virgin who you want as your intercessory. She cares about the patients she must take care of, and recalls Bloom fondly, although she has not had interaction with him for years. Generally, she represents Marian authority gone right, rather than Gerty, who tends to be the more judgmental authority of the church.