Reader's Guide: Lotus Eaters 0008

Lotus Eaters 008


[cf. Gabler 58: 17-27, 1922 68: 17 -27]


Bloom is about to use the mysterious white slip of paper that he keeps inside his hat, so he needs to take it out while noone is watching him.  He’s stopped to look in the window of a tea company, and he is keeping thoughts of tea in the foreground of his mind, even while his plans for the white piece of paper must be lurking elsewhere in his consciousness.


Bloom is such a chatty character, always speculating, always working through little theories about people and the world, thinking about his memories and his family.  Often this chatter is in the foreground, while Bloom is doing something else in the background (which he won’t acknowledge to himself in all of his inner chatter).


Bloom’s inner monologue is familiar and unthreatening most of the time – he sounds like us (as opposed to Stephen, who sounds like a nightmarish grad student) – but you also need to be reading through Bloom, analyzing him, to see the patterns of thought that reveal things he doesn’t want to acknowledge consciously.


And note the “high grade ha” – back in “Calypso” this was how Bloom read the inside of his hat (and first mentioned the white slip of paper).  On one level, it just means that the hat is old, and Bloom’s sweat has worn off the final “t.”  But notice how this observation of Bloom’s is now in the narrator’s voice – another example of the narrator’s identity shifting around.