Home > Uncategorized > Pork. chops. and oysters.

Pork. chops. and oysters.

Sunday, November 15, 2009; 06:33 pm Leave a comment Go to comments

Throughout Ulysses, my obsession of ingestion and excretion has led me mainly toward Bloom for several reasons.  First, he is the character that seems to embody the complete in-and-out cycle, as we first see him in Calypso devouring very visceral food in great detail, and at the close of the chapter we also see his great satisfaction with his successful bowel movements in the latrine.  Second, Bloom is the mot sensory character in the novel, not only with his obsession with ingestion and excretion but also his fixation on smells and taste.  Finally, Bloom acts as an opposite of Stephen, who doesn’t seem to care much about anything sensory, and whom we rarely see ingest or excrete anything except booze and the occasional pee in the sea.  However, in reading Penelope, I was pleased to find that my obsession relates nicely to Molly as well, providing yet another link between her and Bloom.

In Molly’s mind, food and sex are intertwined.  The image of oysters is dominant in this chapter, having significance both in relating to femininity (being cloven) and also as a food that happens to be an aphrodisiac.  While pondering Bloom’s affairs and recalling the time she fond long hairs on his coat, Molly muses “it was all his fault ruining servants then proposing that she could eat at our table on Christmas day if you please O no thank you not in my house stealing my potatoes and the oysters” (p609).  Here, Bloom’s infidelity with the servant is worse when he asks Molly if she can eat with them, and not only that, but also to eat oysters.  Molly’s thinking is also directed toward food in the domestic sense, as when she becomes distracted in thought about what to make for dinner tomorrow and she decides to make cod as a break from meat (641).

Ingestion and excretion are conflated in the image of putting Molly’s breast milk into tea.  She seems simultaneously comfortable and uncomfortable with her own excretory processes, releasing blood and urine into the chamber pot and also taking the time to break wind.  However, she does express anxiety about Bloom’s presence when she farts, as she wishes he would “sleep in some bed by himself with his cold feet on me give us room even to let a fart. . .  that was a relief wherever you be let your wind go free” (628).

I’m also trying to trace the theme of bread, particularly buttered bread, in relation to Molly but I haven’t made a ton of progress.  I’ll let you know if I’m onto anything substantial.

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