Ulysses: Novel Summary: Chapter Two - Episode 4

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This chapter begins with the first overt references to Leopold Bloom, an advertising agent, and a description of him preparing a breakfast tray for his wife Molly (who is a singer and is also known as Marion Bloom). Bloom is thinking of how he likes grilled mutton kidneys, 'which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine'. He pours milk for the cat and decides to go to the butcher shop for kidneys.
The potato Bloom carries as a talisman is safe, but he realizes he does not have his key when he is on the doorstep and decides not to disturb Molly again. He is wearing black (and it is explained later that he is to attend Paddy Dignam's funeral that day). After passing Larry O'Rourke's, he enters the butcher's (Dlugacz's). He stands by the female servant who works in the house next door to his and remembers her whacking the carpets. He hopes the butcher will serve him quickly so he can walk behind her. His thoughts shift to consider the plight of the 'oldest people': the Jews.
At home, he sees there is a letter for him from his daughter Milly, and there is a card and letter for Molly. He recognizes the writing on the letter for Molly and although it is not explained immediately, it is from Blazes Boylan. He takes her the letter and tidies her clothes and then goes back downstairs to make her tea, glance at the letter from Milly, and cook his food. When he returns to Molly, he notices the letter from Boylan is peeping out from under the pillow. Molly tells him who it is from and that Boylan is bringing the programme of her tour to the house. He fetches the book she asks for so that she can ask to him explain the meaning of 'metempsychosis' (which is reincarnation). This word appears in Bloom's thoughts occasionally through the day.
After rushing downstairs to rescue his food, he reads the letter from Milly more closely and notices how she mentions a young man called Bannon. He remembers she was 15 yesterday and thinks of his dead son Rudy and how he would be now if he had lived. Rudy died 11 days after his birth.
This episode ends with Bloom going to the toilet to evacuate his bowels. He reads the prize-winning story in the magazine Titbits and wipes himself clean on it after he has finished reading it.
This is a significant piece because it introduces the readers to Leopold and Molly Bloom. Through Bloom's interior monologues, we are privy to his everyday concerns and interests. The loose correspondence with Homer's Calypso, who imprisons Odysseus/Ulysses, may be seen in Bloom's waiting on Molly with her breakfast. More figuratively, Bloom's entrapment is also made evident in the way his thoughts return to Molly (and her affair with Boylan) through the day.
As with previous glimpses of Stephen picking his nose and wiping what he finds on a rock, it is also made clear here, with Bloom's visit to the toilet, that this novel embraces the functions of the body. Bloom's concern with food, sex and defecation are brought to light as the novel refuses to be staid in its interest in the human body.

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