Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ulysses -- Penelope

I've been in Israel for the past week, so lots of books to post about, but I wanted to round off the postings of Ulysses first.  "Penelope" is Molly Bloom's chapter, and it's the first time we get to see her properly, instead of second-hand, through other characters' viewpoints.

On the one hand, Molly provides us with a lot of details about Bloom.  The one that most stuck out for me this time is that Bloom in fact can't seem to hold down a job.  We've heard about his problems with convincing Wisdom Healy to use more interesting advertising methods, but I'd been assuming that this disagreement stemmed from Bloom's role as a canvasser for the Freeman's Journal, but it's the other way around -- Healy threw him out when Bloom persisted in arguing with Healy about his advertising methods, and that's why Bloom is now canvassing for the Journal.

It's interesting, because of course through the whole novel, the impression we have of Bloom is the hard-working relatively successful man, but through Molly's eyes we see a man who is occasionally too smart for his own good, who would just as soon hang out around the house all day instead of getting out and working.

It also turns out that Bloom's neuroses that are exposed in "Circe" are not entirely buried in his psyche, but come out in his relationship with Molly.  This isn't really a surprise, though.

Lastly, this chapter tells us that Molly has only been unfaithful once, today, even though we know from "Ithaca" that Bloom suspects it has been pretty frequent.  On the other hand, Molly suspects Bloom of infidelity, and we know that, at least today, she's also incorrect.

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