Ulysses

by: James Joyce

Episode Eleven: “Sirens”

Summary

Episode Eleven begins with a jumbled prelude of phrases—fragments, it turns out, of the text to come. Episode Eleven also uses a technique s-imlar to Episode Ten, whereby sections of text that describe events happening in another location interrupt the narrative at hand.

The Ormond Hotel barmaids, Lydia Douce and Mina Kennedy, strain to see the viceregal cavalcade out the window, then gossip and giggle over their tea. Meanwhile, Bloom is walking past shop windows nearby.

Simon Dedalus enters the Ormond bar, followed by Lenehan, looking for Boylan. The barmaids serve them drinks and discuss the blind piano tuner who tuned the Ormond piano earlier today. Dedalus tests out the piano in the saloon. Boylan arrives and flirts with Miss Kennedy while he and Lenehan await the wire results of the Gold Cup race.

In the meantime, while buying notepaper to write to Martha, Bloom has noticed Boylan’s jaunty car on Essex Bridge. Mindful of Boylan’s fast-approaching four o’clock rendezvous with Molly, Bloom decides to follow the car to the Ormond Hotel. Outside the hotel, Bloom runs into Richie Goulding and agrees to have dinner with him inside—Bloom plans to survey Boylan. They sit down in the dining room.

Boylan and Lenehan, leaving, pass Bob Cowley and Ben Dollard on their way in. In the dining room, Pat the waiter takes Goulding’s and Bloom’s drink orders. Bloom hears the jingle of Boylan’s car pulling away and nearly sobs with anxiety. In the saloon, Dedalus and Dollard reminisce about past vocal concerts and the time Dollard had to borrow evening clothes from the Blooms’ second-hand clothing shop for a performance. The men discuss Molly appreciatively. In the dining room, Bloom, too, is thinking about Molly, as Pat serves dinner.

Interspersed with these passages are the jingle of Boylan’s car and updates on its progress toward the Blooms’.


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