Episode Seven takes place in the Freeman newspaper offices. New-spaper-like headlines break the episode up into smaller passages. Without the headlines, the episode reads much the same as previous episodes have.
In Dublin’s city-center, tramcars, postal carts, and porter barrels simultaneously roll to their destinations. Bloom is in the back office of the Freeman getting a copy of his Keyes advertisement. Bloom walks through the printing rooms to the Telegraph offices, which are under the same ownership as the Freeman. He approaches the foreman, City Councillor Nanetti, who is Italian by birth and Irish by choice. Nanetti is speaking to Hynes about his report of Dignam’s funeral. Hynes owes Bloom three shillings, and Bloom tries to tactfully remind him about it, but Hynes does not catch on.
Over the noise of the presses, Bloom describes the new design for the Keyes ad: two keys crossed, to evoke the independent parliament of the Isle of Man and thus the dream of Irish home-rule. Nanetti tells Bloom to get a copy of the design and to secure three months advertisement from Keyes. Bloom listens for a moment to the sound of papers shuffling through the printer, then walks toward the staff offices. Bloom watches the men typeset backward and thinks of his father reading Hebrew, from right to left. Bloom enters the Evening Telegraph office, where Professor MacHugh and Simon Dedalus are listening to Ned Lambert, who is mocking Dan Dawson’s overwrought patriotic speech, reprinted in the morning newspaper. J.J. O’Molloy enters and the doorknob bumps Bloom. Bloom remembers O’Molloy’s past as a promising lawyer—O’Molloy now has money troubles.
Lambert continues to mock Dawson’s speech—Bloom agrees with the criticism but reminds himself that such speeches are well-received in person. Crawford enters, greeting MacHugh with mock disgust. Dedalus and Lambert leave for a drink. Bloom uses Crawford’s telephone to call Keyes. Lenehan enters with the sports edition and proclaims that Sceptre will win today’s horserace. We hear Bloom on the phone—he seems to have missed Keyes at his office. Re-entering the room, Bloom bumps into Lenehan. Bloom tells Crawford that he is headed out to settle the Keyes ad—Crawford could not care less. A minute later, MacHugh notices from the window that the newsboys are following Bloom, mimicking his jerky walk. Lenehan imitates it too.
O’Molloy offers MacHugh a cigarette. Lenehan lights their cigarettes, waiting to be offered one. Crawford jokes with MacHugh, a Latin professor, about the Roman Empire. Lenehan tries to tell a riddle, but no one listens.
O’Madden Burke enters with Stephen Dedalus behind him. Stephen hands Deasy’s letter to Crawford. Crawford knows Deasy and comments on Deasy’s ornery late wife, which helps Stephen understand Deasy’s view that women are responsible for the sin of the world. Crawford skims Deasy’s letter and agrees to publish it. MacHugh is arguing that the Greeks and the Irish are similar because they are dominated by other cultures (Roman and British, respectively) yet retain a spirituality that those cultures do not have. Lenehan finally tells his riddle. Crawford comments on the gathering of many talents in the room (literature, law, etc.). MacHugh remarks that Bloom would represent the art of advertising, and O’Madden Burke adds that Mrs. Bloom would add vocal talent. Lenehan makes a suggestive comment about Molly.