ULYSSES pp. 101-108 “Hades”

By KATIE ELSE

First and foremost, eat my tweets! 

101. men see Dignam’s family at cemetery. Coffin is carried. MC scolds JP about talk of suicide. JP didn’t know about LB’s father

102. Men discuss the Dignam family.LB ponders widowhood. Small talk with Ned Lambert. Discuss money collection for the family.

103. LB sees PD’s son, wonders if he was there when PD died. LB at back of church. LB’s mind wanders during requiem mass all the way to gas

104. LB’s mind continues to wander, ponders the service, altar boys. The mass ends.

105. Simon sees his wife’s grave, weeps. Catholic men comfort him that she;s in heaven. Kernan and LB chat, both do not practice Catholicism

106. JH Menton inquires as to who LB is. He remembers Molly, wonders aloud why she would be w/LB.

107. Men run into caretaker there, He tells a funny story about two drunks looking for their friend’s grave.10:36 PM Jul 28th from web

108. LB thinks about how the caretaker got a wife to live in the cemetery, raised a family there & how the bodies will decompose over time

At this point in the chapter, they have arrived at the cemetery and the coffin is being carried in for the funeral rite.  Bloom is empathic towards the Dignam family but when the Mass begins his thoughts are detached, humorously, at times. He remains in the back, kneeling on his newspaper and hat attempting to make it more comfortable (doesn’t he know Mass is supposed to be uncomfortable??). He is barely engaged in the Mass while occasionally tapping in to comment on the monotony of it all, made worse by the use of Latin. This is another example of his disconnection from those around him; he is not participating nor wants to. 

Bloom’s approach to death could not be more different than the gentlemen he’s with. To him, after death there is nothing, nada, zip. This pomp and circumstance is meaningless and he doesn’t see the practically of it. Instead, he envisions burying the dead vertically to maximize space and using the bodies to fertilize the soil. He sees it scientifically, as part of the cycles of life. He can not participate in the consoling of Simon when he weeps upon seeing his wife’s grave. The other men use to consolation of heaven. 

We’re introduced to Tom Kernan, the only other non-practicing Catholic in the group. But even he concedes that the Biblical quote used in the Church of Ireland service, “I am the way the truth and the life” touches ones heart, presumably not knowing that same line is used in the Catholic Mass but in Latin. But on the subject of the heart (which is the organ assigned to “Hades”) Bloom is not sentimental; that doesn’t ‘touch’ his heart. He sees the heart as an organ that stops pumping upon death, and there’s are loads of them littered about the cemetery.

I feel these pages widen the gulf between Bloom and the other men. He is just traveling in a different world. He has such a different perception of the  motions they go through around the funeral. He’s nearly incomprehensible to them. Powers didn’t think twice about his words on suicide because it never occurred to him that anyone of them would have been affected by it in the way Bloom had been.  John Henry Menton can’t wrap his head around why anyone like Molly would be married to him. I feel it’s not out of malice that he’s excluded, he’s just occupies a different space.

My question for you guys is how this all pertains to Joyce’s idea of Catholicism. Being raised Catholic myself, I feel that the Mass is too easy to be detached from. You are not participating in it. It’s as if you’re watching a play. I’ve found that no matter how hard you try when sitting through a Mass you’re min inevitably goes astray, repeatedly. This would have been made worse before they used the vernacular as the language of the Mass. Perhaps everyone else around him was just doing their best to look pious while their minds went adrift as well. Those of you who know Joyce better than myself (doesn’t take much, frankly) do you see this chapter as a commentary on how he felt about the Church and its rituals?

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One Response

  1. I find Leo’s reactions to this funeral mass an interesting contrast to his earlier visit to church during Lotus Eaters. Primarily, the radically different moods of the two chapters are the cause, but the fact that he is part of a group but clearly the outsider vs. just being alone could have something to do with it as well.

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