ULYSSES pp. 94-100 “Hades”


As we continue down the road to Hell, let me share with you my tweets…

94. LB starts to tell joke about Dodd’s son almost drowning, MC steps all over it. finishes story. much laughter

95. men discuss sudden death of PD. LB thinks it’s best to go quickly. Other men seem to disagree. They see a child’s coffin.

96. Men remark on child’s coffin. JP says suicide is worst death.MC says to reserve judgement knows how LB’s father died.LB appreciates that

97. It’s finally blatantly stated thru Lbs thoughts that his father died of suicide. They pass by cattle. Carriage is stopped again.

98. LB ponders a new tramline that could carrya coffin.They remember a coffin falling out of a carriage before. LB thinks of PD falling out

99. LB details the scenery, crossing over canal, the man on the turfbarge, the stonecutter’s yard, a tramp on the side of the road…

100. They pass by a home where a murder took place, get to cemetery, notice how few carriages are there

So far this chapter reeks of death which, of course, is fitting considering it’s parallel chapter, Hades. How much death can one squeeze into 14 pages? The death of Dignam is obviously a focus of this chapter. Bloom is also meditating on the deaths of this son, Rudy, and his father.   They pass by the coffin of a child. There’s the story of the poor chap whose coffin tumbled out of it’s carriage along the same route on the way to its final resting place. There’s the subject of the murder of someone names Childs. Bloom even thinks about the death of the cattle as they are on their way to slaughter.

The language and mood revolve around death as well. I actually went through and underlined any word that pertained to death (a very scholarly method, trust me) and this chapter is riddled with them, even when what is being described is not a death itself.  Death, mourning, condemned, sorrowful, grief, gloomy…I’m starting to feel like I’m in a Cymbalta commercial!

The other thing that struck me about the going-to-hell-and-back aspect of this chapter is that the fates of the two most prominent deaths, in the eyes of Catholics at least, are pretty grim. Poor Dignam died before he could receive his last rites, which might not put him in hell but he’s definitely on the chain gang in purgatory. And suicide? Sorry, buddy, here’s a one way ticket to hell.

Here’s where Bloom is again, viewed as an outsider. He believes that to go swiftly and without pain is the best death. For Catholics, this is devastating because there’s no certainty as to whether the deceased will make it to heaven at all. The mens’ wide-eyed glares say it all. It reminds me of a homily I heard in mass when I was about 9, a homily that would leave me terrified for years about my own fate postmortem, when priest said, “Trust me, you will be surprised at how many of your friends end up in hell.”

But Bloom thinks of death in this chapter with more of a scientific curiosity. He thinks about a scenario where Dignam falls out of his coffin, how he would look, what procedures are necessary soon after death, if he would bleed if cut at this point. He is not worried about what has become of Dignam’s soul or whether he has one at all. Instead he looks out the window, describing in nearly minute detail what he is passing.

It is in this chapter that we receive solid confirmation that his father’s death was indeed suicide. I found it interesting that he was so thankful to Cunningham for defending him. What he did was kind, but he has just moments ago been so rude to him. I think it points to Bloom’s empathy in that he can let that go and so quickly move to unreserved gratitude.

So here are some questions…

  • What do you think the reason is for Bloom’s detailed description of everything passing by, sometimes even just listing establishment after establishment?
  • Do the men consciously separate themselves from him or is it more like he’s not even there, he’s of no consequence?
  • Are you depressed yet?

BONUS: Which of your friends do you think will end up in hell and why? (Please use specific examples.)

ULYSSES pp.87-93 “Hades”


Let me just begin by saying that I am enjoying being inside Leopold Bloom’s head far more than Stephen’s. I find him a much more sympathetic, empathetic and accessible character.  In the first pages of this chapter, the subtext and the… well, obvious text give us insight into these two men.  Let me share my tweets:

87. We meet Martin Cunningham, Mr. Power, Simon Dedalus (in person) getting into the carriage in front of Dignam’s with LB in last.

88.On their way thru town to funeral.LB points out Stephen to Simon.Simon asks if BM is w/him. Rants about how much BM sux.LB thinks of Rudy

89. LB reflects on Milly growing. Men express disdain for crumbs in carriage. They get stopped at the grand canal.

90. LB thinks of his father’s death and the dog, Athos, he inherited. Men chat about weather, mock a few mutual acquaintances, read obit

91. LB tries to remember what he did with letter,passes Blazes Boylen just as he’s thinking of him, examines nails and tries to ignore him

92. LB talks of Molly’s tour w/the finest musicians, dwells on Power calling her Madame, thinks of her then of Powers alleged mistress

93:Men spot Dodd a jewish money lender all have been to but LB. LB tries to tell funny story about Dodd & his son but MC keeps interupting

This chapter beings around 11am with the men are getting into the carriage which will take them to Paddy Dignam’s funeral, in front of Dignam’s home. We are introduced to Martin Cunningham, Jack Powers and Simon Dedalus who we finally meet in person. They enter the carriage with Bloom pulling up the rear setting the stage to portray Bloom as an outsider.

The carriage carries the men through town in the funeral procession.  Bloom recognizes Stephen Delalus and points him out to his father. This is where we gain some insight into Stephen’s relationship with his father. I can’t really see the warm and fuzzies between the two.  And it seems Simon could benefit from some anger management or, at the very least, thinking before he speaks.

Simon is concerned as to whether Buck Mulligan is with Stephen. This launches him into a rant about Mulligan’s character on par with the Real Housewives of New Jersey . The colorful language and lack of restraint paint him to be a bit of a loose canon. His threats go as far as a strongly worded letter to his mother or aunt and the promise to “tickle his catastrophe”, catastrophe being slang for buttocks, or so the internet tells me. Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall for that one.

To me it seems this is well-meant paternal concern gone awry. It seems Bloom sees it the same way. At first, he’s put off by the tirade but it leads him to thinking of his own son’s death, what it would have been like to have had him grow up, the day of his conception and he concludes Simon is right to be upset.

But it seems Simon snaps more than he speaks showing us something about his temperment.  “It’s as uncertain as a child’s bottom” he blurts out in regards to the weather, which one of my personal faves. I’m hoping to add that one to my repertoire and work it into conversation as much as possible.

The theme of fathers and sons is touched on again when Bloom thinks of his own father’s premature death. This thought is triggered when he sees the Gasworks while they are stopped at the grand canal (the first of four rivers they cross on their way to the cemetery which symbolize the four rivers of Hades). Bloom is now fatherless and has lost his son; he is the end of his lineage, isolated.

What we see of this carriage ride so far shows us that he is isolated amongst his aquaintances as well, an outsider. There are small hints, Dedalus cutting him off from reading the obituary they mentioned (presumably because it was inappropriate), Power’s veiled insult in calling Molly “Madame” alluding to something promiscuous about her. Then right as Bloom’s thoughts wander to Blazes Boylan, they pass him on the street. He can’t understand why everyone is so taken with the “Worst man in Dublin”. He mentally disengages my concentrating on his nails.

The awkwardness really gets dialed up when they pass by Rueben J. Dodd, a Jewish money lender. The three Irishmen share an obvious disdain for him and alientate Bloom from the pack in mentioning that he’s the only one who hasn’t borrowed money from him. The obvious division here is one of religion.

Bloom tries to chime in with a (not so) humorous story aout Dodd’s son nearly drowning. Cunningham interrupts him repeatedly and ends up telling the story instead (no doubt because he’s Irish and has the gift of  the Blarney) putting him in his place once again.

There’s an obvious ‘you vs us’ vibe happening. I’m not quite sure (this being my first read) if Bloom is fully aware of how the others view him. He picked up on the ‘Madame’ comment and had a hard time letting it go. But he seems to remain fairly jovial, even after Cunningham railroads his story.  Do you think he has just accepted that is how he is viewed in Ireland, that he will always be somewhat of an outsider and has comes to peace with that? Or is he mildy oblivious to that fact? I’m sure this carriage ride to Hades will reveal more as we go along.

Throughout all of this we get hints that Bloom is an empathetic creature. He puts himself in the shoes of crazy talkin’ Simon Dedalus and determines he would be defensive of his son too. I was struck by something he thought in regard to a man he saw working the rails:

“Couldn’t they invent something automatic so that the wheel itself much handier? Well but that fellow would lose his job then? Well but then another fellow would get a job making the new invention?”

You see his pragmatism in wondering if they couldn’t be doing something more efficiently. Then you see his empathy in wondering how is would affect that particular man. Then it’s a mixture of both in that it could be beneficial for someone else and more practical. It leads me to think of how differently he relates to the physical world around him as compared to Stephen. Stephen has a hard time taking things in and processing them, he seems to be neither practical nor empathetic. He has a hard time connecting to the world around him and other people. He’s is stuck in this self-centered, cerebral space. That is his isolation. Blooms thoughts are so much more fluid. He associates things easily. And while he is isolated in a different way, he tries to relate to and empathize with other people instead of just thinking of himself. Can you think of other examples of how Bloom does this?

I think this is long enough, folks. I’ll hit you tomorrow with more from the carriage ride to Hades….