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MonkeyNotes-Ulysses by James Joyce
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Chapter 12

Cyclops Summary

The time is around 5 p.m. Bloom hopes to meet Martin Cunningham at Barney Keirnanís tavern to discuss the affairs of the Dignam family. They become involved in a heated and drunken argument with the rowdy regulars hanging about the bar. They narrowly avoid violence by making a hurried retreat. The narrator is chatting with a member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police when he is nearly blinded by the carelessly held brush of a passing chimney sweep. As he turns round to curse the sweep, he spots Joe Hynes, and the two chat. The narrator is now a debt-collector. He speaks of his present case, which involves the refusal of Michael Geraghty to pay for some goods received from Moses Herzog, the grocer. Geraghty claims that Herzog is not properly licensed as a trader, and that therefore he cannot sue. Hynes and the narrator repair to Barney Kiernanís tavern for a drink. They discuss as they go the meeting of cattle traders to consider the outbreak of foot-and- mouth disease.

At the tavern they see the citizen, who remains unnamed. He is a giant of a man, fiercely nationalistic, with a massive and mangy dog called Garryowen. Hynes orders a round of drinks. He amazes the narrator by paying with a whole sovereign. This is the money that, under Bloomís promptings, he picked up from the newspaper cashier. Breen and his wife look into the tavern. Alf Bergan comes in and explains Breenís fantasies. The drunken Bob Doran awakens from his stupor. The waiter, Terry, brings more drinks. The Citizen spots Bloom outside and curses him. But Bloom is soon forgotten. Alf Bergan comments that he has just seen Paddy Dignam in the street. Doran laments Dignamís death.


Then Bloom comes in. He prudently skirts around the rumbling Garryowen and joins the conversation. Hynes has a letter from a man who has volunteered for the position of hangman. Now the conversation turns to capital punishment and horror stories about hangings. Patiently Bloom is prepared to discuss these, but his comments are not well received. The narrator remembers Bloomís general tendency towards serious discussion, which he has always found irksome.

Bob Doran asks Terry to bring him a Jacobís Biscuit tin. He scraps a few old biscuits out of it for the dog. The dog becomes restless, sniffing round the biscuit tin. Bloom, meanwhile, is meticulously, explaining the problem of Dignamís insurance policy, which he is here to discuss with Martin Cunningham. It evokes a tearful outburst from Doran. The conversation now turns to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease among the cattle. They slip quickly from this question to its political implications and to an imaginary Question Time in Parliament where Irish sports are considered. Accounts of ferocious sporting contests follow. Bloom, on the wrong foot as ever, interrupts with a plea for tennis as a nice and healthful game.

J.J. OíMolloy comes in with Ned Lambert. The conversation turns again to poor, mad Breen. Bloom attempts to speak kindly of him and express sympathy for Mrs. Breen. But the others, led by the Citizen, reject Bloomís attitudes. The Citizen is obviously working up his anger against Bloom. Breenís attempts to get the law on his side remind the men of various tales of the Dublin bench. Meanwhile, Bloom tells Hynes not to worry about the debt until the first of the month. But he asks him for some help with placing the Keyes advertisement. The Citizen, aroused by stories of the English rule of law in Ireland, talks about nationalism, "We want no more strangers in our houses." The threat to Bloom is growing moment to moment.

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