James Joyce

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Please analyse this extract from episode 4 of Joyce's Ulysses from the words "Mr Leopold Broom ate with relish.." to " No, she can jump me".

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This passage opens with an excellent example of indirect characterization in the way it presents "Mr Leopold Bloom," who "ate with relish." The passage utilizes the Modernist "stream of consciousness" style, wherein what is related seems to depend upon the whim of both author and character; the enumeration of all the various items Leopold Bloom likes to eat seems at first unnecessary, but the fact that the author selects such unusual choices in fact directs the reader to draw related inferences about Bloom's character. Specifically, the fact that he enjoys kidneys because they "gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine" presents a repugnant image to the reader, and leads us to question why Bloom should favor such a taste.

The motif of the kidneys extends into the next paragraph; they (and their "fine tang of . . . urine") are in Bloom's mind, although they seem ill-fitted to the "gentle summer morning." Bloom is righting "her" breakfast things on the "humpy tray." The article "her" is left standing alone without the narrative enlightening the reader as to who "she" might be. In this way, we too, like the kidneys, are "in [Bloom's] mind." What is revealed to us follows the patterns of Bloom's thought. As he knows who "she" is in this context, the narrative does not elaborate for the reader's sake.

This stream-of-consciousness style underlies the use of fragmentary half-sentences in the passage, echoing the thoughts entering Bloom's mind. "Right. . . . Cup of tea soon. Good. Mouth dry." Joyce gives no elaboration; the reader must infer that these are Bloom's thoughts. The juxtaposition of these fragmentary sentences, then, with instances of descriptive prose—"Gelid light and air were in the kitchen but out of doors gentle summer morning everywhere," "The coals were reddening"—serves to draw out the imagery of the explanatory sentences, the picture of the morning seeming clearer by contrast to the jumbled thoughts.


(The entire section contains 648 words.)

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