Ulysses

by: James Joyce

Episode Three: “Proteus”

Summary Episode Three: “Proteus”

Thus far in Ulysses, we have seen Stephen to be concerned with mothers—for example, his own mother’s death, the concept of maternal love, and Eve as the original mother. In Episode Three, we get Stephen’s first thoughts about fathers, his own father specifically, from whom Stephen pointedly distances himself here. Kevin Egan, the exiled Irish nationalist, functions as a sort of father figure in Episode Three as well. To the extent that he is paternal, Egan represents the restrictive pull of fidelity to country and to God and to an idealized past—restrictions that Stephen would prefer to avoid. Stephen’s actual lack of his mother and his willed lack of a father underlies the movement toward an expected climax in which Stephen might find surrogate parents in Leopold and Molly Bloom.