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MonkeyNotes-Ulysses by James Joyce
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Chapter 5

The Lotus-eaters Summary

The time is 10 a.m. Bloom is busy moving through the familiar streets of Dublin. He is on his way to the funeral. He greets several acquaintances and performs several errands. He receives a flower, which seems to bemuse him. He passes through the wretched area near the quayside. There he sees two poor children. He feels a pang of sympathy for them. With the eye of a professional advertising man, he looks into the window of a tea company. He appraises their labels. He lets his mind run again to the thoughts of an exotic orient. The vision of lethargic floating in luxury recalls a picture he had seen of a man floating in the Dead Sea. He tries to remember the physical laws governing floating bodies which he had studied long ago at school.

The slip of paper in his hat is a visiting card bearing his alias, Henry Flower. He shows it at the counter of the post office. He receives a letter, which he does not read at once. He is distracted by the sight of a colorful recruiting poster. As he is about to open it, he is interrupted by C.P.M’Coy who wants to chat about Paddy Dignam, Mrs. Bloom and his own wife, also a singer. But Bloom avoids the trap. He gives half his mind to listening. The other half is busy looking at an attractive, fashionable lady standing outside the Grosvenor Hotel. M’Coy asks Bloom to put his name down at the funeral. Bloom, impatient of the conversation, thinks disparagingly of Mrs. M’Coy’s weak voice which is so unlike Molly’s. As he looks at the theatre advertisements he recalls some of the exciting plays he has seen. A sentimental recognition scene between a father and son reminds him of his own father’s death and his refusal to view the body. Dismissing the thought, he walks past the cab-rank, noting the contented horses. He goes to the timberyard, where he opens his letter. The envelope contains a flower. The letter is one of a series of pathetic love-letter exchanged between Bloom and a girl called Martha whom he has not met. He carefully pockets the flower. With perverse pleasure, he recollects erotic phrases from the correspondence. He tears up the envelope, as easily as one might tear up a check for a hundred pounds. Now his thoughts turn to the wealthy, such as Lord Iveagh, the brewer.


Bloom goes into All Hallow’s Church. He sits at the back. He broods on Christian Missionary work, the nature of the Mass and the fine organ music he has heard in the church. Thoughts of Molly gradually come to dominate his flow of ideas. Leaving the church, he walks along Westland Row to Hamilton Long’s pharmacy. There he orders a refill of a prescription and buys a cake of soap for his intended trip to the public bathhouse. Thoughts on chemists, the history of physic and the use of poison are interrupted by Bantam Lyon, a leering, sporty type, not over-clean. Lyon wants to borrow Bloom’s newspaper to look up the details of a horse race. Bloom, annoyed by him as by M’Coy, thinks of the follies of gambling. He continues his walk past Trinity College. He nods to the porter and remembers old sporting feats of the students. The day is still hot and he daydreams of a luxurious bath.

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