Leopold Bloom fixes breakfast for his wife, Molly, and feeds his cat. Bending down with his hands on his knees, he wonders what he looks like to the cat and how her whiskers work as she laps milk. Bloom considers what he will get from the butcher for his own breakfast. He creeps upstairs to ask Molly if she would like anything from outside. Molly mumbles no and the bed jingles under her. Bloom thinks about the bed, which Molly brought with her from Gibraltar, where she was raised by her father, Major Tweedy.
Bloom checks on a slip of paper in his hat and his lucky potato, and he makes a note to retrieve his house keys from upstairs before he leaves for the day. Bloom walks outside and anticipates being warm in the black clothes he will wear for Paddy Dignam’s funeral today. He imagines walking a path around the middle part of the globe in front of the sun’s path to remain the same age and he pictures the Eastern landscapes. But no, he reasons, his mental images are fictional material, not accurate. Bloom passes Larry O’Rourke’s pub and wonders if he should stop and mention Dignam’s funeral, but he simply wishes O’Rourke a good day instead. Blooms tries to figure how all the small-time pub owners like O’Rourke make money, given how many pubs there are in Dublin. Bloom passes a school and listens to the students recite their alphabet and Irish place names. Bloom imagines his own Irish place name, “Slieve Bloom.”
Bloom arrives at Dlugacz’s, the butcher shop. He sees one kidney left and hopes the woman in front of him does not buy it. Bloom picks up a sheet of the wrapping newspaper and reads the ads. The woman pays for her order, and Bloom points to the kidney, hoping to fill his order quickly so that he can follow her home and watch her hips move. Too late to catch her, he continues reading his sheet of newspaper on the way home. It advertises fruit plantations for speculation in Palestine and Bloom thinks of fruits from the Mediterranean and Middle East. Bloom passes a man he knows who does not see him.
As a cloud passes over the sun, Bloom’s thoughts turn sour with a more barren vision of the Middle East and the tragedy of the Jewish race. Bloom vows to improve his mood by beginning his morning exercises again, then turns his attention to an unrented piece of real estate on his street and finally to Molly. The sun comes back out and a blond girl runs past Bloom.
Bloom finds two letters and a card in the hall. Bloom senses that the one for Molly is from Blazes Boylan, Molly’s associate and possible lover. Entering the bedroom, he gives Molly the letter and a card from their daughter Milly in Mullingar. Molly puts Boylan’s letter under her pillow and reads Milly’s card. Bloom goes downstairs to prepare the tea and kidney. He skims his own letter from Milly.
Bloom brings Molly her breakfast in bed. Bloom asks her about her letter, and she explains that Boylan is bringing over the concert program this afternoon. Molly will sing “Là ci darem” and “Love’s Old Sweet Song.” Molly directs Bloom to bring her a book. While he retrieves the book, Bloom rehearses lines from “Là ci darem” in his head, wondering if Molly will pronounce them correctly. Molly takes the book, a racy novel entitled Ruby: the Pride of the Ring, and finds the word she wanted to ask Bloom about—“metempsychosis.” Bloom rehearses the etymology, but Molly asks for the meaning in plain terms. Bloom explains reincarnation. Spotting a painting of a nymph over their bed, he gives her the example of nymphs returning in another form, such as a tree. Molly asks for another book by Paul de Kock.