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Our narrator is back, breaking through Bloom’s reverie and thought balloons with its black-bordered box. It gives us a helpful reminder of place: we are reaching the end of Eccles Street and about to round the corner where Larry O’Rourke’s grocery is. Bloom decides not to bug him about buying an ad for the Freeman’s Journal.
This is probably a good moment for the narrator to jump in, because we are shifting away from internal Bloom to external Bloom. This is the Bloom who feels himself being watched, and watches himself interacting with people, “prepar[ing] a face to meet the faces that you meet,” to quote T. S. Eliot’s 1917 poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” Rather than the unrestricted access to Bloom’s consciousness of the previous few pages, there feels like there might be a filter, and a fear of potential social awkwardness.
Bloom is always a little bit different; some of this has to do with his Jewish background, some of it has to do with people’s suspicions about his marriage, and some of it has to do with Bloom being, well, ordinary but not quite. “There’s a touch of the artist about old Bloom,” as one character will say in a later episode. Here Bloom thinks about mentioning Paddy Dignam’s funeral later in the morning, and even imagines what he might say. What we’ll see on the next page is…