Reader's Guide: Lotus Eaters 0003

Lotus Eaters 003

 

[cf. Gabler 58:5-10, 1922 68:4-9]

 

Bloom walks past some poor children playing in the street, and thinks about how hard their lives are.  He considers scolding one of them who is smoking, but thinks better of it – figuring that the kid’s life is hard enough already, why shouldn’t he have a smoke to distract him (note the Lotus Eaters theme).

 

Because of the way we’ve arranged “Lotus Eaters” and “Nestor” together, you can also make an easy comparison between Bloom’s encounter with a young boy, and Stephen’s.  Both are sympathetic, but passive. Stephen’s time with his students sends him to thinking about history and William Blake, but Bloom thinks about the boy and his life, how he must have to wait for his father to emerge from the pub.

 

And what’s Richard Outcault’s Yellow Kid doing here, after all?  Well, he lived in a slum too — and he was one of the first comics characters, published in New York newspapers not long before the action of Ulysses takes place.  He seems to belong here, as a tribute and as an echo of the past.

 

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