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MonkeyNotes-Ulysses by James Joyce
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Chapter 16

Eumaeus Summary

The time is 1 a.m. Bloom helps Stephen to compose himself. Stephen asks for a drink. Bloom suggests that they go to the cabman’s shelter near Butt Bridge. They walk into Amiens Street, but there is no sign of a taxi-cab except for one waiting outside the North Star Hotel, which ignores Bloom’s attempts to hail it. They saunter on. Bloom is slightly inconvenienced by the loss of a back button from his trousers. A Tramways sand- strewer passes, and Bloom recounts his narrow escape from one earlier in the evening. Stephen’s thoughts turn towards such subjects as Ibsen. Bloom’s thoughts are more concerned with the smell from Rourke’s city bakery and their jingling advertisements.

Bloom takes the opportunity to give sensible moral advice to Stephen on the dangers of drink and whoring. Quite apart from the dangers of physical violence, he dwells on the financial disasters that debauchery brings. He notes that Stephen’s roistering companions deserted him all but one. And that one Judas, Stephen observes of Lynch. Passing a watchman’s brazier and sentry box, Stephen recognizes Gumley, the watchman, as a one-time friend of his father’s. Someone else, in the distance, calls out to Stephen. It is Lord John Corley, the dissolute son of Inspector Corley. He claims to be down on his luck and begs help. Stephen digs into his pockets and gives Corley half a crown.


Bloom meanwhile observes the interview critically from a distance, hanging about near the watchman’s brazier. Gumley himself is asleep. Stephen rejoins Bloom, hands on Corley’s request that Bloom should ask Billsticker Boylan to give him a job as a sandwich-board-man. Bloom, who has been with Simon Dedalus at the funeral today, remarks on Simon’s pride in his son. Having observed how Mulligan and Haines seemed determined to get Stephen off their hands at Westland Row Station, he sees no future in Stephen’s going back to Sandycove. He thinks he would be better advised to return home.

They pass a group of Italians chattering round an ice-cream car, and then enter the cabman’s shelter. The keeper of it is reputed to be Fitzharris, one of the former ‘Invincibles’ known as "Skin- the-Goat". They sit down under the curious stares of the other customers and Bloom prevails upon Stephen to have a coffee and a bun. Bloom discourses on the beauty of the Italian language, heard outside the hut. Stephen deflates this theme. A red-haired, somewhat drunken individual, probably a sailor, breaks into their conversation to ask what Stephen’s name is. Hearing it, he asks whether Stephen knows Simon Dedalus. "I’ve heard of him", Stephen says. Encouraged by this apparent ignorance, the sailor, who is a liar, embarks on reminiscences of Simon Dedalus’s achievements as a marksman, dramatizing one of them impressively. The sailor identifies himself as D.W.B. Murphy of Carrigaloe, Queenstown Harbor, where his wife is waiting for him and he has not seen her for seven years. Urged on by the cabin-keeper and his customers, the sailor tells several tall stories of his travels, touching eventually on the man-eaters of Peru, and exhibiting a postcard, which pictures Bolivian Indians.

Bloom, friendly and interested as always, is stimulated to some daydreams of his own travels. He meditates on the glory and perils of the sea. Stephen shows little interest. He does not notice a prostitute who pops her head into the shelter for a moment. He does not respond to Bloom’s rather pompous moral comments on vice. But Bloom pushes the conversation ahead until Stephen is forced to give his mind to replying "skin-the- Goat." The others in the shelter talk of Ireland and the tyranny of England. Bloom tells Stephen of his adventure with the Citizen. But he finds that he cannot discuss anything with the younger man whose ideas seem to him self-centered, bitter and skeptical.

The talk drifts idly and inevitably to Parnell and Kitty O’Shea. Bloom considers Mrs. O’Shea’s Mediterranean background. He thinks of Gibraltar and Molly. He fishes out of his pocket a photograph of her to show to Stephen. As they discuss Molly, the older man ponders over the younger man’s wretched condition. Bloom gradually develops an idea that he might use Stephen’s journalistic talents and connections to further Molly’s career and render Boylan unnecessary as a manager. The implication is strong that Stephen might be attractive to and attracted by Molly. It may make her break off her other involvement with Boylan too. They leave the shelter and walk along. They discuss music and observe the quiet streets around them. They feel pity for a carthorse dragging a road sweeper. Stephen sings a snatch of a song. Bloom advises him to stay away from Mulligan. Stephen however does not reply directly. They converse, but they do not really have any meaningful communication.

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