Although James Joyce titled his book Ulysses, the plot of the novel centers around the characters of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus. Essentially, Joyce's title, as well as the episodes in the novel, only allude to Homer's epic. Leopold Bloom is the Odysseus figure, since he is a father in search of a son. (Bloom's own son, Rudy, died in infancy.) Likewise, Stephen Dedalus, the Telemachus figure in the novel, is in search of a father figure because of the broken relationship he has with his own father.
Each chapter in the novel mirrors an episode from The Odyssey, but readers who are unfamiliar with Homer's work will inevitably miss the allusion altogether. (Because this book is so difficult to understand, however, most readers require guides to help them get through Joyce's text. Such guides describe the similarities--both in terms of theme and character development--between The Odyssey and Ulysses.