Ulysses

by: James Joyce

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 4

. . . each contemplating the other in both mirrors of the reciprocal flesh of theirhisnothis fellowfaces.

This quotation occurs in Episode Seventeen—it is a narrative description of Stephen and Bloom’s wordless interaction in Bloom’s garden just before Stephen leaves. Their meeting is in no sense ideal—a father-son connection is not explicitly made, and Stephen declines to stay the night and probably will not see Bloom again. Yet the narrative of Episode Seventeen manages to convey their union as symbolically meaningful, by tapping various themes. This sentence manages to include an optimistic set of thematic connotations: the “recognition” theme from (disguised) Odysseus and Telemachus’s meeting in The Odyssey; and an idea of the father-son relationship involving versions of the same bodily self (“flesh”). The “reciprocal” aspect of their meeting implies that Stephen has managed to find a medium in the troublesome dynamic of activity-passivity. The “theirhisnothis” narrative play also manages to suggest that the meeting is an ideal balance between a coming-together and a realistic recognition of “otherness.”