Calypso 0030

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The gentle servility of Bloom is made even more pronounced by the over-the-shoulder shots; we see Molly’s back, the curves of her body, and Bloom seems tiny and distant.  We’ve talked about how the presence of the narrator has a tendency to dominate Bloom at certain points in the text, especially when Bloom is feeling a bit tiny and dare I say unmanned, and I think that’s what’s happening here.  Take a look at the upper right-hand panel:  no text box, and the words nudge Molly out of the frame.  The arrival of Boylan’s letter makes Bloom insignificant and anxious, leaving lots of room for the narrator to step in and take over the story.  Just as Bloom is losing his grip on his marriage ever so slightly, he’s losing his grip on his own story, too.  He glimpses Molly’s hiding the letter with “his backward eye” (I love that), but we don’t quite see it:  his watching (again, the eyes have it) and the narrator’s description of it takes the place of the depiction of the actual physical movement.

The lower left-hand panel has Molly sharing Milly’s card, a thank you for birthday presents; we’ll see Bloom thinking about his maturing daughter in a few pages, reflections sparked by the events of the morning and the recent anniversary of her birth.  But as we saw earlier in Calypso, there is a little merging of “she”:  “She was reading” and “She got the things.”  The blending of young girl and mature woman, and the ambivalence Bloom feels about these stages of female life and the role he plays in them, will be important a bit later.

 

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Reader’s Guide to IV: Calypso

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