Stephen’s hallucinations seem to emerge out of elements of his day, such as the interview with Deasy, and involve Stephen’s privately torturous interactions with authority, specifically with ideas about God. Yet the distinctions between Stephen’s and Bloom’s hallucinations are not sustainable. Stephen’s hallucinations involve elements of Bloom’s day that Stephen could not know about and vice-versa. Eventually, the apparitions begin to reference earlier scenes and words unseen and unheard by both Stephen and Bloom. It is perhaps more accurate to view the hallucinations of “Circe” as emanating not out of the subconscious of individual characters but out of the subconscious of the novel itself.
Episode Fifteen serves to bring Stephen and Bloom closer together. Bloom has followed Stephen to Nighttown with the intention of somehow protecting him—in the more action-packed second half of Episode Fifteen, Bloom begins to fulfill this intent. Bloom overcomes the paralyzing nature of his own sexual guilt and anxiety about Boylan’s sexual prowess to take control of several situations—the payment for the prostitutes, Stephen’s money, the dispute with Bella over the broken chandelier, and the attempt to save Stephen from the Carr altercation and suspicious police. Comparatively, Stephen, in the latter half of “Circe,” seems drunkenly unaware and emotionally overcome by his hallucinations. (Importantly, Stephen’s vision of his dead mother seems to be the only true apparition of “Circe.” Thus Stephen responds with real emotion, while Bloom, who has experienced equal trauma, has not reacted as though these things actually happened.)
In the final scenes, Stephen attempts to become intellectually and artistically independent through his rejection of “priest and king” and Ireland (Old Gummy Granny). Yet he is mainly depicted as having been abandoned: by his mother, by his father, by Buck and Haines (who have taken Stephen’s key and ditched him), and by Lynch (“Judas”). When Stephen is left knocked unconscious at the end of the episode, with his belongings scattered around him, it is Bloom who is there to act as symbolic father and pragmatic caretaker. This preliminary culmination of the father-son union has the tone not of a cosmic convergence but a wish-fulfillment for Bloom, a fact underscored by Bloom’s final hallucination of his dead son, Rudy.