Sorry I haven’t had much to say about Eumaeus; there just wasn’t much in the way of light to discuss.
There were a couple other instances where light was doing some interesting things in Ithaca, though:
– As Bloom and Stephen walk home, they ruminate on a series of topics (lines 11-18). However, the only thing they agree on is the “influence of gaslight or electric light on the growth of adjoining paraheliotropic trees” (44-5). The fact that the only thing they agree on is a the physical reflection of light on trees, which makes them consider different aspects of their own lives (see Blamires for an interesting commentary).
– To give a little bit more insight to the guidance theme of the candle lighting scene I wrote about for Monday, when Bloom comes to fetch Stephen, the question to elicit more information is “Did Stephen obey his sign?” (118). The use of the word “obey” highlights the father/son dynamic, while “sign” heightens the religious imagery.
– Bloom and Stephen are characterized as “doubly dark” as they move out of the house into the garden (1037). This additional reference to their mourning clothes creates the image of two men dressed all in black, which seems to me to lend a different feel to the scene than if they had been wearing normal clothes.
– As Bloom contemplates the sunrise on pg 579, it takes a while for the actual word “sun” to appear. Its light is called instead “the diffusion of daybreak,” a “luminous body,” and a “golden limb” until it is finally named as the sun, giving the appearance of an actual body climbing up over the horizon (1257, 1267).
First of all, I have a new theory that I explained to my group last meeting. So I established in my last post that Boylan = the sun (his nickname is Blazes, as well as character traits like his pushiness and fame). By this logic, I would then argue that the soap Bloom has been carrying around in his pocket is representative of the sun and therefore Boylan. Textual evidence: “He points to the south, then to the east. A cake of new clean lemon soap arises, diffusing light and perfume” (15:336-7). In this bit of description, the soap clearly appears as the sun, thus by my argument equating it with Boylan. Interpretive evidence: Bloom has been carrying the soap with him all day, just as the anxiety of Molly and Boylan’s meeting has been haunting him. As we discussed in class, Bloom is rather generously aware of what would attract and please Molly (Boylan) just as he is sensitive enough to buy her to soap and novel. Similarly, the need to return and pay for the soap has also been bothering Bloom, just as he considers the question of whether Boylan is paying Molly from a purely economical standpoint. With the relief that accompanies the Nausicca episode, Bloom is freed from his anxiety over the affair and his unpaid-for soap; though both Boylan and the soap appear later on, they are not attended by the same worry and obsession. Finally, when Bloom smells himself searching for the “man smell,” he encounters the soap instead; Boylan to many seems to represent the quintessential man, and would therefore have the man smell.
Another point which I mentioned in class is the new appearance of another kind of light: aurora borealis. In the first part of the episode, it is mentioned by name twice, lines 170 and 1373, but the heavenly lights themselves reappear gold, pink, and violet in the dancing scene in the brothel (pages 468-9) in which an entire day is experience through light, from morning to noon to twilight and night. This new light, which is colors, at night, in the sky (a location which is in my light-math is Boylan and Molly’s [Molly(moon) + Boylan(sun) = Sky]) presents new concepts for consideration. I would argue that this coloring of their affair is representative of Bloom’s path towards reunification with Molly through is improving prospects and performance in this episode, especially in his gaining of an adopted son. Thus, aurora borealis represents a disruption of the established light patterns, not only colors, but lights that both move and change.
A climactic point in this episode is Stephen’s destruction of the chandelier (4243-5), which is another critical disjuncture from the previous light patterns in that light and its production actually becomes part of the action of the story. I have a couple possible interpretations of this instance, but I would be interested to see how the rest of the class interprets it. For one, Stephen’s destruction of light could be linked to the light as religion and his willful rejection of religion as forced on him by and tied to his mother, whose ghost has just appeared to him. Another possibility would be that in his destruction of the king of lamps, the chandelier (which is called a lamp after it is broken and therefore appears smaller and more normal) could be indicative of his rejection of the opposite of shadow, being his realm of light (as I posited in class). This topic would also bring up the discussion of the ashplant, with which we could surely do much.
Gordon, John. “Some Joyce Skies.” James Joyce Quarterly 33 (1996): 411-427.
The SparkNotes summary of Ulysses identifies that both Stephen and Bloom notice the same cloud drift over the sun as they go about their morning activities, and that Bloom’s mood is affected by the change in light. This instance is a prime example of Joyce’s intense attention to the minute details of his scenes. In his article “Some Joyce Skies,” John Gordon takes this intricacy one step further, analyzing Joyce’s placement of the sun and constellations in Ulysses, with a few brief mentions of Dubliners and Finnigan’s Wake. Through the use of an almanac and other information detailing the construction of the cosmos on 16 June 1904, Gordon establishes that Joyce was in fact extremely accurate not only of the exact location of the sun at a given moment, but of the appearance and position of the various constellations mentioned and implied throughout the novel. However, does not provide an overarching argument concerning the significance of Joyce’s celestial ordering, summing up rather lamely that understanding Joyce’s sky is “essential for understanding what is going on” (411).
Despite the lack of a uniting theme, Gordon’s specificity is impressive, as is Joyce’s. Apparently Joyce is often accurate to a matter of degrees concerning where the sun would have shone on a particular street at a certain time. Using maps of Dublin, Gordon traces Bloom’s wanderings, identifying points of his walk in which he or others he encountered would have been in sun or shadow based on their street location and direction, as well as identifying observations or fluctuations of mood in the text which could result from the sun. In his discussion of the nighttime stars, Gordon formulates a more solid argument related to the emergence, placement, and timing of certain constellations. Again, Joyce is amazingly accurate concerning what constellations would have appeared where in the sky at what time. Gordon’s argument becomes most interpretive in his discussion of various characters’ astrological signs in reference to specific appearances in the text. The majority of the interpretations are related to Molly or Milly, the most interesting analysis in my opinion being from episode 14 concerning Bloom’s astrological sign Taurus (horny and horned) with a red mark on its forehead which “blazes” (14.1108). All told, Gordon’s meticulous analysis highlights Joyce’s fascinating attention to detail but beyond that his examples do not illuminate Ulysses much further.