Analyze a short passage of Ulysses and show how the narrative technique of the novel works.

James Joyce's novel Ulysses works by using several narrative techniques, and a short passage from the opening scene between Buck and Stephen could be analyzed in terms of free indirect discourse. A short passage from the final chapter could be analyzed in terms of stream of consciousness.

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One narrative technique that James Joyce uses in Ulysses is free indirect discourse. This technique lets Joyce have an all-knowing, third-person narrator and access to the characters’ thoughts and feelings. This narrative technique shows up in the novel’s opening passage with Buck Mulligan and Stephen Dedalus. The narrator doesn’t spend much time articulating the thoughts and feelings of Buck. The narrator lets Buck’s boisterous actions and dialogue speak for him. Yet as Buck is shaving, the narrator slips into the interior life of Stephen and the pain that his mom’s death brings him. Again, the passage is possible due to free indirect discourse, since the narrator has the freedom to express Stephen’s emotions.

Another narrative technique that Joyce employs is letters. The inclusion of letters let characters speak in their own words, and it helps provide the reader with further information about what they’re up to. Martha Clifford’s letter to Henry Flower (also known as Leopold Bloom) lets the reader know that Leopold is romantically interested in women other than his wife, Molly.

Another short passage to analyze in terms of narrative technique concerns Molly. In the final chapter, there is no third-person narrator: it’s all in Molly’s voice. It’s as if Molly has become the narrator, and thus the narrative technique has switched to a first-person narrative. One could also analyze a short passage from this chapter in terms of stream of consciousness. The long paragraphs and lack of punctuation indicate that Molly is basically pouring out everything that she is thinking and feeling without any sort of filter. A lot of her thoughts and feelings appear to be related to sex.

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