Chapter Three - Episode 17
This episode is structured mainly with the format of questions and answers. Initially, their route home is detailed as Bloom leads Stephen to Eccles Street. Their common interests and divergent ones are listed.
Bloom looks for his key on reaching his home, remembers he has forgotten it and gets in by the basement. He lights a fire when they are both inside and Stephen remembers others who have done this for him, including his father and mother. As Bloom washes, he asks Stephen if he would like to do the same, but he declines the offer. Bloom decides not to counsel him on the benefits of good hygiene.
A description of what is on the shelves ensues and this includes some betting tickets. These lead Bloom to remember the coincidence of Throwaway winning the Gold Cup. Bloom makes them both a drink of cocoa.
The parentage of Bloom and Stephen is given and a connection between them is made as they both coincidentally think of the Queen's Hotel. Stephen then relates his parable of the plums and Bloom considers how Molly needs educating.
The two men see the past and future in each other and Bloom offers Stephen a room for the night. Stephen declines and Bloom returns his money to him. Bloom recalls an incident at the circus: he was sat on his own and the clown came to him (to the amusement of the crowd) and called him papa. Stephen and Bloom then urinate together and Stephen leaves.
Bloom bangs himself in the front room as he did not know the furniture had been moved around in his absence. Among other thoughts, Bloom considers his dream property in detail and unlikely ways he could achieve this ambition. An inventory of his drawer is given, and he puts the letter from Martha in there. The second drawer contains his father's deed poll change of name and his suicide letter.
After thinking of Molly's father, he undresses and gets into bed and lists the men he believes Molly has had an affair with. With regard to Boylan, Bloom feels 'envy, jealousy, abnegation, equanimity'. Whilst kissing and fondling Molly's bottom, Molly asks him what he has been doing that day. He does not tell her about his correspondence with Martha, the altercation with the citizen or about masturbating over Gerty. Full intercourse between Bloom and Molly has not taken place for ten years, and there has been limited mental intercourse since Milly's menstruation began nine months ago. The couple are laid in bed in opposite directions to each other.
If parallels are to be drawn with The Odyssey, it must be remembered that Odysseus and Telemachus kill Penelope's suitors. The heroes of this novel, however, eschew violence and prefer instead to ruminate, converse and wait.
This episode is structured by the format of questions and answers and adopts an ironic tone touched with pathos. An example of this may be seen when the contents of Bloom's drawers are listed and we are told of Molly's anal complaint as well as his father's suicide note.