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—A nation? says Bloom. A nation is the same people living in the same place.
An unnamed, first-person narrator describes the events of his afternoon. In addition to the first-person narration, the episode contains over thirty passages in prose that parody—through hyperbole—Irish mythology, legal jargon, journalism, and the Bible, among other things.
The narrator meets Joe Hynes on the street, and agrees to get a drink at Barney Kiernan’s pub so Hynes can tell the citizen about the foot-and-mouth disease cattle meeting. A passage in the style of old Celtic sagas describes the marketplace they walk past as a land of plenty. Arriving at the pub, they greet the citizen and his dog, Garryowen. The citizen is described at length, mock-heroically.
Alf Bergan enters, laughing at Denis Breen, who is walking by outside with his wife. Bergan tells the story of Breen’s “U.p: up” postcard and orders a Guinness from the bartender. The beverage is lovingly described. The citizen notices Bloom pacing outside and wonders with hostility what he is doing—he refers to Bloom as a freemason.
Talk switches to Paddy Dignam. A seance at which Dignam’s soul appears is described. Bob Doran (a character from Dubliners) rails loudly at the cruelty of God to take Dignam away. The narrator disgustedly notes that Doran is on his annual drinking binge.
Bloom enters—he is supposed to meet Martin Cunningham. Hynes tries to buy Bloom a drink, but Bloom politely refuses. The subject of hangings is raised, and Bloom speaks pedantically about capital punishment. The citizen dominates the conversation, recalling hanged Irish nationalists. The narrator watches Bloom and thinks scornfully of Molly—the narrator knows a fair amount about the Blooms, thanks to Pisser Burke, who has a connection to them. Bloom is trying to make a fine point about hangings, but the citizen interrupts him with narrow-minded nationalistic sentiments. A passage of journalistic prose describes the public spectacle of a martyr’s hanging.
Hynes orders another round. The narrator is bitter that Bloom will not drink nor buy rounds. Bloom explains he is meeting Cunningham to visit Mrs. Dignam. Bloom launches into an explanation of the insurance complexities.
This book needs a No Fear for it! But if there were a No Fear made, it should be made in a different way from the others; some lines just need to be put into context. For example, I can't tell if one character is thinking or talking.
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I think Ulysses, and all Joyce (except Finnegan's Wake) should have a No Fear and a summary video. These classics are often overlooked by kids my age, and they should be read!
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I'm about half way through Ulysses and I'm beginning to realize that his scenarios and conversations will never become any clearer than they are now. I rarely quit a thing once I've started, but it's very frustrating. To those of you who have read it in full....do you understand who's talking, where they are, who's good/bad.....nothing is clear to me. I just keep reading words......I'm not sure why.
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Take a Study Break!