Step 4: Interior Monologue & Highlighting

(I will be using the .pdf version of highlighted text.  Instead of the typical bright yellow, I will be brushing on some shade of Gray highlighted text without the attached comment that .pdf provides. The .pdf form is rounded at the ends and the lines smoothly merge. The squared-off narrow html version, available to me here in this blog, works against the points I’m making below. I will not be using it in the text of this blog.)

You might continue to dance through the pages, picking up a rollover here and there–until page 4.  Here, Joyce introduces his famous internal monologue.  You might be accustomed to this through other authors, such as Faulkner or Toni Morrison.  Or, maybe you aren’t.  You might treat these two brief passages as speed bumps.  You might think, Oh, what did I run over back there?  Well, can’t stop now.  I’m on a roll!

My most controversial offering to Ulysses illumination is highlighting.  I need to make it clear what I want and don’t want.  We need some illustrations.  I will start with the first example of interior monologue, on page four:

“Stephen, an elbow rested on the jagged granite, leaned his palm against his brow and gazed at the fraying edge of his shiny black coat-sleeve. Pain, that was not yet the pain of love, fretted his heart. Silently, in a dream she had come to him after her death, her wasted body within its loose brown graveclothes giving off an odour of wax and rosewood, her breath, that had bent upon him, mute, reproachful, a faint odour of wetted ashes. Across the threadbare cuffedge he saw the sea hailed as a great sweet mother by the wellfed voice beside him. The ring of bay and skyline held a dull green mass of liquid. A bowl of white china had stood beside her deathbed holding the green sluggish bile which she had torn up from her rotting liver by fits of loud groaning vomiting.

This comes on very quietly, first as a mixture of third-person narrative using Stephen’s vocabulary.  And then, by the end of the paragraph, Stephen’s mind is set aloft.

Some might ask, why not stay with coloring the text.  I personally find it distracting.  Moreover, I believe that it is important to understand that the interior monologue represent “topographical features” every bit as much as “the tower, the surrounding land and the awaking mountains.”  I believe that this wonderful passage is where Stephen’s Icarus takes flight.


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