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MonkeyNotes-Ulysses by James Joyce
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Chapter 6

Hades Summary

The time is 11 a.m. Bloom and his fellow mourners travel by coach behind Paddy Dignamís coffin to Prospects Cemetery. The ritual of burial evokes in him a multitude of thoughts on death and human frailty. The elegant Martin Cunningham is the first to get into the carriage, followed by Power, Simon Dedalus and Bloom. As Bloom looks out of the window, he sees an old woman staring from a house across the road. He meditates on the typical old womanís task of laying out a corpse. The carriage does not start. The mourners are all awkwardly silent. The carriage drives off, slowly at first, then faster, through the Dublin streets. The passengers see pedestrians raising their hats in respect. Among the passersby, Bloom sees Stephen. He talks to his father who manages to get a glimpse of his son. Not seeing him, he asks Bloom if "that cad Mulligan" is with him. He proceeds to complain about Mulliganís influence on Stephen and the vulgarity of his own family. Bloom, noting Dedalusí concern for his son, remembers his dead child Rudy. He is filled with sudden melancholy and recollections of the early years of his marriage.

As the carriage moves along, Bloom thinks of Milly too. The passengers chat idly about the condition of the carriage and the people who are going to be at the funeral. Bloom sees the gasworks and thinks of the pollution and disease they cause. Milly did not get many childhood sicknesses. The sight of a dogís home reminds him of his fatherís dog, Athol, which died shortly after the old man. Thoughts of disease and death run constantly through his mind. It begins to rain, and the passengers start discussing the news of the day. Bloom pulls out his newspaper, glancing down the list of deaths printed there. He remembers his letter and decides that it is safely tucked away.


The various scenes appearing through the window bring various recollections and ideas to Bloomís mind. The Queenís Theatre, particularly, reminds him of his pleasure in the opera. He thinks of Boylan, his wifeís manager and lover. At that very moment, Cunningham spots Boylan standing in the doorway of the Red Bank. What, Bloom wonders, can his wife see in him, "the worst man in Dublin." The passengers in the coach begin quizzing Bloom about his wifeís coming tour. He is struck by the incongruity of Madame Marion, the singer and Molly his wife. The sight of an elderly Jew outside a pawn-brokerís stimulates some crude comments. Bloom tries to restore the lively spirit by telling a joke about a Jew. But constant interruptions by the other passengers destroy its point. They realize that they should compose themselves and look serious. Dedalus comments that Paddy Dignam, a good sport, would not have begrudged them a laugh. He died suddenly. He had an easy death, they note.

As they look out of the window they see a childís coffin pass hurriedly by in a funeral coach. This sad sight again brings Rudy to Bloomís mind. The talk turns to suicide, a topic which Martin Cunningham, aware of Bloomís fatherís death, tries to avert. Bloom thinks what a kindly and intelligent man Cunningham is. He refers to the problems caused by his drunken wife. The two exchange understanding glances. The street scene constantly changes. Nearer the cemetery, they glimpse gloomy places like Our Ladyís Hospice for incurables. The coach is held up by cattle crossing the market. Morbid thoughts of the slaughterhouse throng into Bloomís mind. He remarks that they should improve the transport system both for animals and men. Bloom, ever interested in technology, suggests a tramline to the cemetery. His fellow passengers consider the idea. They realize that it would avoid such horrid incidents as the traffic accident, which caused a coffin to spilt open on the street. In his imagination Bloom sees the same nasty fate occurring to Dignam at this minute. As they pass the canal, Bloom thinks of water transport. They pass a monumental masonís and then a row of gloomy houses. Finally they reach the burial ground, with its dark trees and its white monuments. They dismount and pass among the other mourners to the service. They talk of mundane matters like insurance and mutual friends. Cunningham whispers that the talk of suicide has distressed him.

Bloom listens to the service with his usual lively interest in church matters. He then joins the mourners in the march to the grave. They gossip and narrate macabre jokes. Bloomís mind is filled with sickening thoughts of death and corruption. The mourners give their name to the reporter. They stand around stiffly talking of Parnell, while Bloom muses on mortality and the transience of human memories. He spots John Henry Menton, the solicitor, talking with Cunningham. Menton is an old enemy. He lost a game of bowls to Bloom long ago. He still nurses a grudge. He barely acknowledges Bloomís comment that his hat is crushed at the side. All that is certain is that the episode ends with human relationships on a sour note. The ritual of the funeral has changed nothing.

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