Ulysses by James Joyce

Ulysses - Alma Books

Ulysses has three parts and 18 chapters. The novel chronicles the experiences of three ordinary Dubliners in Dublin on a single day, June 16, 1904, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The story begins with three protagonists living in an ancient tower on the outskirts of Dublin. One is Stephen DeDalus, a young history teacher and poet who has just graduated from a college in Paris. Stephen’s mother asked him on her deathbed to kneel and pray, but he did not listen out for religious revulsion. After his mother’s death, Stephen was consumed with regret for the matter. Later, due to the decline of his family, Stephen almost disowned his father, who led his sisters to a difficult living. He left home and made a living by teaching. The second was Leopold Bloom, an advertising salesman, a Hungarian Jew. Bloom used to run through the streets, busying himself all day, but always working for nothing. The death of Bloom’s youngest son left him irreparably traumatized. And Bloom was shamed by his wife’s infidelity. The third is Bloom’s wife Molly, who is a typical representative of carnalism. Her reluctance to be alone, due to the decline of Bloom’s sexual function made him suffer unspeakable humiliation and mental torture.

Early in the morning of June 16, 1904, having finished a history lesson, and receiving from the headmaster the payment of three pounds and two shillings, Stephen went for a stroll by the sea. In the face of the rolling waves, his thoughts are full of twists and turns, the vicissitudes of life, the mystery of nature, the eternity of time and space, and the charm of art begin to surge in his consciousness. He felt sorry for his father for having had a passionate love for his mother. He yearned, with a feeling of guilt, for the spiritual return of a father. At a house at eight o ‘clock the same morning, Bloom, an advertising salesman, was preparing breakfast for himself and his wife, Molly. At that moment the messenger brought Molly a letter which said something about a young man named Boylan who had promised to come and see her at four o ‘clock in the afternoon. In a dejected mood, Bloom made an excuse and left the house.

Bloom went to the post office to pick up a love letter addressed to him and read it in a quiet place. Later, Bloom went to attend his friend’s funeral. On Bloom’s way to the cemetery, he sees his wife’s lover, Boylan, walking in the direction of his home. Then a series of thoughts flashed through his mind: death, burial, graveyard rats fed on corpses, and a series of absurd visions flowed deep in his soul. Bloom then went to the Freeman, a newspaper publication company, to deliver a graphic design for an advertisement, and made another visit to the hospital to see a lady who was in hospital for a difficult birth. It was here that Bloom met Stephen, and the two hit it off. Stephen offered to treat him with his new salary, and they went to a brothel. There Stephen was very drunk, and Bloom took good care of him. They finally found what was most important to them spiritually in each other. Bloom finds his lost son; Stephen finds his spiritual father. Bloom went home and told his wife that Stephen would join them in the future. The dissolute woman who cheated on her husband had just said goodbye to a lover. She was vaguely gratified by the arrival of Stephen, mixed with a passion for a young man. She recalled, almost at the moment of falling asleep, the days when she and Bloom had been passionately in love.Their lives seem to be turning for the better.

-Coreen C.


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