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I love how Rob has Mulligan sample the milk as if it were a bottle of wine at a fancy restaurant. Exactly Mulligan’s form of jackassery, even if it may be anachronistic.
I’ve never been sure what to make, exactly, of Mulligan’s speech on healthy food. It’s a class marker, to be sure, and perhaps we are to take it as more or less sincere, but misguided. People are starving in Dublin–there’s enormous poverty in the city at this time. The Great Famine is a living memory. More to the point, who is meant to benefit from this pontification? He’s showing off his knowledge and Doctor-power to the milkwoman… but what does this tell us about him?
Neither Joyce nor his alter-ego Stephen Dedalus had a Ph.D. in literature, but Stephen’s feelings here are very familiar to anyone who does. The real doctor gets all the attention. But they guy who’s going to forge in the smithy of his soul the uncreated conscience of her race? He gets nothing.