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James Joyce

Episode Eighteen: “Penelope”

Episode Seventeen: “Ithaca”

Episode Eighteen: “Penelope”, page 2

page 1 of 3


so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

(See Important Quotations Explained)

The first of Molly’s eight giant “sentences” that comprise her interior monologue begins with her annoyance and surprise that Bloom has asked her to serve him breakfast in bed. Molly intuits that Bloom has had an orgasm today, and she thinks of his past dalliances with other women. She thinks of her afternoon of sex with the aggressive and well-endowed Boylan—a refreshing change after Bloom’s strange lovemaking techniques. On the other hand, Molly guesses Bloom is more virile than Boylan and remembers how handsome Bloom was when they were courting. Thinking of Josie and Denis Breen’s marriage, Molly feels that she and Bloom are perhaps mutually lucky.

In Molly’s second sentence, she considers her various admirers: Boylan, who likes her feet; the tenor Bartell D’Arcy, who kissed her in church; Lt. Gardner, who died of fever in the Boer War. Molly ponders Bloom’s underwear fetish. Aroused, Molly anticipates seeing Boylan on Monday and their upcoming trip to Belfast alone. Molly’s thoughts turn briefly to the world of concert singing, annoyingly girlish Dublin singers, and Bloom’s help with her career. Molly remembers Boylan’s anger over Lenehan’s lousy Gold Cup race tip. Molly thinks Lenehan is creepy. Considering future meetings with Boylan, Molly resolves to lose some weight and wishes she had more money to dress stylishly. Bloom should quit the Freeman and get lucrative work in an office. Molly remembers going to Mr. Cuffe to plead for Bloom’s job back after he was fired—Cuffe stared at her breasts and politely refused.

In her third sentence, Molly ponders beautiful female breasts and silly male genitalia. She thinks of the time Bloom suggested she pose naked for a photographer to make money. She associates pornographic pictures with the nymph picture that Bloom used to ineptly explain metempsychosis this morning. Back to breasts, she remembers how Bloom once suggested they milk her excess breast milk into tea. Molly imagines gathering all of Bloom’s outrageous ideas into a book, before her thoughts return to Boylan and the powerful release of her orgasm this afternoon.

Molly’s fourth sentence begins with a train whistle. Thoughts of the hot engine car lead her to thoughts about her Gibraltar childhood, her friendship there with Hester Stanhope and Hester’s husband “Wogger,” and how boring her life was after they left—she had resorted to writing herself letters. Molly thinks of how Milly sent her only a card this morning and Bloom a whole letter. Molly wonders if Boylan will send her a love letter.

Molly’s fifth sentence begins with her recollection of her first love letter—from Lieutenant Mulvey, whom she kissed under the Moorish wall in Gibraltar. She wonders what he is like now. Another train whistles, reminding Molly of Love’s Old Sweet Song and her upcoming performance. She is again dismissive of silly girl singers—Molly views herself as much more worldly. Considering her dark, Spanish looks which she inherited from her mother, Molly guesses that she could have been a stage star if she had not married Bloom. Molly shifts in bed to quietly release built-up gas, chiming with another train’s whistle.

In her sixth sentence, Molly’s mind wanders from her Gibraltar girlhood to Milly. Molly does not like being alone in the house at night now—it was Bloom’s idea to send Milly to Mullingar to learn photography, because he sensed Molly and Boylan’s impending affair. Molly ponders her close but tense relationship with Milly, who has become wild and good-looking like Molly used to be. Molly realizes with frustration that her period is starting and gets up to use the chamberpot. She realizes that Boylan did not make her pregnant. Scenes from the afternoon run through her mind.

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No Fear

by mdd07c, September 16, 2012

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.


11 out of 16 people found this helpful

No Fear and Video

by barty567, February 06, 2013

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!


1 out of 1 people found this helpful


by Nordwall, September 22, 2014

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 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.


3 out of 3 people found this helpful

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