Calypso 0042

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The narrator takes care of Bloom’s eating while he reads Milly’s letter more closely.

The carefree and girlish style, the slangy and informal teenage-girl-speak (“we did great biz,” “getting on swimming,” “on the pop”) gives us a whole new register, a new voice.  It prompts reflection on the part of her father on how she is getting older, and remembrance of her birth.

But the letter also brings Bloom’s dead son to mind:  Rudy, dead 11 years ago at the age of 11 days.  The midwife who brought Milly into the world also knew Rudy wouldn’t live–another female figure with connections to both life and death.

Milly never appears in person in the novel, and this letter, along with Bloom’s memories of her, are pretty much all we get of her.  It always sort of bothered me that Joyce people talk about Bloom’s father issues, his quest for a son in Stephen Dedalus, etc.:  does having a daughter make a man any less of a father?

 

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Reader’s Guide to IV: Calypso

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