Step 4e: So, between the Hours of 8am & 9am

It’s something after 8am.  Stephen has just had a showdown with Mulligan.  They’ve agreed on nothing.  Mulligan has just used his golden tongue to pacify Stephen.  Mulligan then steps away, calling Stephen a “lovely mummer”–or “fake”, Mulligan begins singing “Who Goes with Fergus?”, a song with words by Yeats.  Mulligan is singing out loud.  It may be just a favorite melody for him. After he’s disappeared, Stephen notices a cloud has blocked the sun.  What comes next is the climax of that chapter.  Stephen reflects what that song has meant to him.  He’s lead into deep thoughts of mourning for his deceased mother and he relives a ghoulish dream of her visiting him. If I gave you the “blank” book, could you quickly find this?

Perhaps if I told you to look for the word “cloud”.  If I gave you, a digital copy, you could do a word search very quickly.  Anyway, however you find it could you easily see the structure of this passage and how it relates to the page or so preceding?  Could you see the psychological force and the terrible beauty of these thoughts, so much like mourning in their immediacy.  And . . . Once again, three chapters later, it’s something after 8am.  Leopold Bloom, whom we will learn has his own deep private mourning, takes his generally sunny disposition out for an errand to the butcher.

Somewhere along the way, a cloud blocks the sun, and inner feelings of “desolation” invade him. What do we say?  Are these two clouds one and the same?  If you did not know that chapters were set in the hour of 8am, you might not.  We expect novels to run in linear fashion.  We expect authors to write “Meanwhile, returning to 8am . . .”. In Ulysses, we will find correspondences between the first three chapters and the next three.  Stephen’s most internal chapter is chapter 3, set two hours after the first chapter.  In it, his walk along the shore, he is free to think of death and mourning.  Just so, at the same hour, in chapter six, Bloom is attending a funeral.  This is where his own internal monologue is densest.  A sample of these thoughts were back in the Great Gray Out post, where I make the metaphor of the slim narrative lines as clothesline.

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