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The music continues, and The Dance of the Hours parallels Molly’s looking in the mirror. The passage of the time of day becomes the passage of her life, her getting older. We have seen this motif elsewhere: the milkwoman/crone in the desert, the shapeshifting of daughter into mother. In the context of Bloom recalling Molly’s first encounter with Boylan, we wonder: is this a way for Molly to feel young and attractive again?
We suggested that the O’Keeffe-like skull and flower in the desert earlier served as a kind of memento mori: Molly’s mirror may be doing the same thing here, referring to a specific subgenre of the memento mori painting, the “vanitas” painting. Mirrors are common symbols in such works of art, recalling the vanity of worldly possessions, the fleeting quality of time and beauty, and the inevitability of aging and death.