Ulysses

by: James Joyce

Episode Fourteen: “Oxen of the Sun”

Summary Episode Fourteen: “Oxen of the Sun”

The eighteenth-century style of Oliver Goldsmith follows. Nurse Callan summons Dixon: Mrs. Purefoy has borne a son. The men licentiously discuss Nurse Callan. Eighteenth-century political prose style is used to describe Bloom’s relief at the news of Mrs. Purefoy’s baby, and his disgust with the young men’s manner. The satirical style of Junius queries Bloom’s hypocritically self-righteous attitude toward the medical students.

Edward Gibbon’s style is used to describe the men’s conversation about various topics related to birth: Caesarean sections, fathers who die before their wives give birth, cases of fratricide (including the Childs murder case, mentioned in Episode Six), artificial insemination, menopause, impregnation by rape, birthmarks, Siamese twins. Gothic prose is employed to describe Buck telling a ghost story.

Charles Lamb’s sentimental style is utilized to describe Bloom reminiscing about himself as a young man, then feeling paternal toward the young men. The hazy, hallucinatory style of Thomas DeQuincey manifests the pessimistic turn Bloom’s thoughts suddenly take. Walter Savage Landor’s prose style is incorporated to describe how Lenehan and Lynch manage to offend Stephen by broaching the topics of his fruitless poetic career and his dead mother. Conversation switches to the Gold Cup race, then to Lynch’s girlfriend Kitty; we learn that Lynch and Kitty were the couple caught by Father Conmee this afternoon (in Episode Ten).

Nineteenth-century historical and naturalist styles follow. The conversation turns to the mysterious causes of infant mortality. Charles Dickens’s sentimental style is used to describe Mrs. Purefoy, joyous mother.

Cardinal Newman’s religious prose style is employed to describe how past sins can haunt a man. Walter Pater’s aestheticist style follows. Bloom ponders Stephen’s aggressive words about mothers and babies. Bloom remembers watching Stephen, as a child, exchange reproachful glances with his mother. John Ruskin’s style is used to describe Stephen’s spontaneous suggestion to proceed to Burke’s pub. Dixon joins them. Bloom lags behind, asking Nurse Callan to say a kind word to Mrs. Purefoy. Thomas Carlyle’s prose style hails the virility of Mr. Purefoy.

The narrative breaks into a chaotic rendering of various twentieth- century dialect and slang as the men hurry to Burke’s. Stephen buys the first round. The Gold Cup race is discussed, Stephen buys another round of absinthe, and Alec Bannon finally realizes that Bloom is Milly’s father and nervously slips away. The barman calls time, and someone gossips about the man in the macintosh in the corner. The barman kicks them out as the Fire Brigade passes on its way to a fire. Someone vomits. Stephen convinces Lynch to come with him to the brothel district. A nearby poster advertising a visiting minister (the same ad that Bloom received in Episode Eight) inspires a final switch to the style of American sales-pitch evangelism.