Calypso 0027

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Bloom is back at 7 Eccles Street and emerging from his nightmare vision. The narrator makes an interesting comment here: “age crusting him with a salt cloak.” The narrator offered some commentary throughout Bloom’s vision: “Grey horror…,” and it might be interesting to think about how the narrator’s comments and Bloom’s feelings and thoughts interact. How is the narrator participating in or sharing Bloom’s vision?

Bloom’s looking backwards towards his past on page 23 and then even further into the deep memory of his origins and homeland has almost turned him into Lot’s wife. Looking that far back, and perhaps even just a momentary ordinary shift in mood, has also made him feel just plain old. The mythic desolation of the previous few pages slips away and Bloom reflects on the realities of physical aging: morning mouth, a weakening body–and that impulse, familiar to many of us in such moments I’m sure, to exercise more (Bloom owns a copy of Sandow’s Strength and How to Obtain It, which was a bestseller).

Coming back into the sun out from under that gray cloud prompts a new vision: a little blonde girl–Milly, Bloom’s daughter. This is a lovely image of hope, the future rushing up to Bloom to greet him. Yet it also anticipates the ambivalence we will see Bloom feeling about his daughter in some upcoming pages, an ambivalence provoked by the images we have already seen and by his morning encounter with Molly. This vision is Milly as a small child; at 15 now, she is on the verge of becoming a woman — and we have already seen how complicated notions of womanhood are for Bloom (and Joyce). This charming vision of the young girl is slipping away. Gifford notes that the “slim sandals” allude to Hermes too, who is summoned by Zeus to take Odysseus home, releasing him from captivity as Calypso’s husband; Hermes is also responsible for guiding the dead to Hades. I can’t help thinking the bad taste Bloom has had in his mouth hasn’t quite disappeared.


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Reader’s Guide for IV: Calypso