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We’re following Stephen into a ‘flashback’ of a scene that took place just before his mother’s death. I like how dramatically we go from the wide open brightness of the tower and the sea, which, as Mulligan tells us, forgives all offences, to the dark and claustrophobic space of Stephen’s family home.
This passage requires less explication in this format than it does in the book, as the comic form allows us to create the scene in Stephen’s head–just as before with the image of his mother’s ghost, or old Clive Kempthorpe.
My thoughts are never far from Hamlet or from the Odyssey here. But what are the ghosts telling him to do? Stephen doesn’t seem to feel terribly guilty about not praying at his mother’s bedside, he doesn’t seem to feel an urge to repent… his strongest urge is perhaps to remember most vividly and honestly the things that have happened to him. If you’re willing to play along with my hypothesis that Stephen’s journey in this novel is to find the true path of his development as an artist, it will be interesting to see what he does with the ghosts that haunt him and hold him back.