And now, finally, we interrupt this broadcast to bring you into the perspective of our protagonist Leopold Bloom.
Leopold Bloom is James Joyce’s modern-day Ulysses (Odysseus). His journey through his city during the day is supposed to mirror Odysseus’ journey back to Ithaca (which takes years and years).
Structural Notes: Style: Narrative (mature). This style is similar to the first chapter of Ulysses, “Telemachus” (which you can read about here). It is told in a narrative style – which consists of descriptions and dialogue. The difference between chapter 1 and chapter 4 is a result of the age differences between Stephen and Leopold Bloom. Stephen is in his early twenties, and Leopold Bloom is middle-aged.
Time and place: The House at 8:00 a.m. Notice that the time has turned back to 8:00 a.m. When Stephen was on the beach in the previous chapter “Proteus” (which you can read here), it was 11:00 a.m.
Leopold Bloom is very different from Stephen Dedalus. Stephen is a melancholic sort who lives in his head. Leopold Bloom, in contrast, is grounded in the present. If the entire book was from Stephen’s perspective, it would be very depressing.
The story takes place in the morning while Leopold Bloom is making breakfast for his wife, Molly. Leopold suspects that his wife is cheating on him, however, he does not confront her about it. The majority of the chapter consists of Leopold leaving his home to find a shop which will sell him a chicken kidney for his breakfast. The symbol of the kidney is extremely important in this chapter.
Then, Leopold comes home and begins to cook the kidney. He takes breakfast up to his wife, and they share a few casual exchanges about their daughter who has left home to study photography. Molly also tells Leopold about the song she is to sing in the next little while (Molly is a professional singer). Their exchange is cut short when Leopold realizes that he left the kidney on the stove too long.
For the rest of the chapter, Leopold eats his kidney, reads a letter sent by his daughter about her new boyfriend, thinks about his son (Rudy) who died eleven years ago, and thinks about the funeral he will attend in a few hours.
Overall, this chapter is relatively easy to follow. Unlike the previous chapter “Proteus,” the style of this chapter is much more linear. However, I have been told that it’s only going to go downhill from there (unless you are a person who adores experimental styles of writing).
The first three chapters serve as a prelude to Leopold’s journey throughout his day. The first three chapters are usually called “The Telemachian,” as they focus on Telemachus – who is represented in Ulysses as Stephen Dedalus.
Until Next Time,