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MonkeyNotes-Ulysses by James Joyce
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Chapter 17

Ithaca Summary

The time is 2 a.m. The place is 7, Eccles Street. Bloom brings Stephen to his house. The two sit and talk for a time, before Stephen leaves and Bloom retires for what is left of the night. Bloom does not have his key. So he has to climb over the railing and get in through the back door. He lets Stephen in through the front. He puts a kettle on and washes. Stephen refuses to wash. Bloom takes this as a sign of his high minded contempt for the world. As he rummages through the kitchen drawers, Bloom finds two torn betting slips. His mind turns to the curious misunderstanding Bantam Lyon had had about the dayís race. He makes some cocoa. He assumes that the silent Stephen is thinking about a poem. He broods over his own literary ambitions. The two men think about previous occasions when they met. They differ in a number of ways. But they feel that the crossing of their paths had stitched them together in a mystic union. They have become Blephen and Stoom. One is artistic and the other is scientific. They are nevertheless consubstantial, like Virag and Henry Flower. The vision of the two as father and son comes to predominate here.


Bloom is much concerned with the question, "What to do with our wives?" He has often attempted to amuse and instruct Molly, but without success. Now he sees in Stephen the vitality of a brilliant mind and the hope of a future. He ponders whether or not he can persuade Stephen to stay in his house and be a stimulating influence on Molly. Stephen sings a little ditty about the murder of a little boy by a "Jew's daughter/And she all dressed in green." This tale is heard by Bloom "with mixed feelings." The talk turns to murder and suicide. From this they pass on to a discussion of social conditions. Stephen seems to take the guilt of the Dublin world upon himself. He becomes the son of Man (and the Son of Bloom) going into the world to redeem manís sins. Bloom and Stephen step into the garden. After shaking hands, Stephen leaves. Bloom goes back inside. He contemplates the furniture. He reflects on the experiences and expenditures of the day. Then he begins to undress. His memories stimulate a daydream about an ideal life he might live if he could become rich through one of his technological schemes.

He unlocks a private drawer to deposit his latest letter from Martha, and is stimulated to recollection and guilty regret by some memories of his youth and his father that he finds there. He thinks again of the day he has passed, and particularly of the many frustrations he experienced.

Then he goes up to the bedroom. He observes his wife and the furnishings. He accepts these as his proper lot. To change anything will be too hard. So he passively resigns himself to Molly, to himself, and to Boylan and the other adulterers. He climbs into bed with Molly. After telling her about his day he curls up in a prenatal posture and goes to sleep.

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