Saturday, 29 October 2016

Tuesday, 25 October 2016, Pages 872 - 879, Episode 18, Penelope

Reading was stopped at "... more than was good for him..." (Penguin 879.9), (Gabler 18.202)

(Note: As I was not present at the reading, the following notes are based on earlier reading.)
Bloom has fallen asleep. But Molly is awake, and her mind is busy with random thoughts, jumping from one memory to another, remembering all kinds of associations. Many of her thoughts are triggered by what Bloom has described to her of his day, but some of them have to do, though, with the time she has spent with Boylan. Not believing a wee bit his telling her that he had supper at Wynn's Hotel in Lower Abbey Street (Gifford, 18.36-37), she wonders where Bloom actually was that night, whether he had gone to the red light district (because he couldnt possibly do without it that long so he must do it somewhere...). The last time he came on my bottom, she remembers, was on the night when Boylan had given her hand a great squeeze, which she had reciprocated. They had sung 'the young May moon shes beaming love' (Lyrics here, video here.)

In her interior monologue during the quiet predawn hours, Molly dissects Bloom's behavior, the acts he comes up with in order to attract female attention (such as that of Mrs. Riordan (who was pious because no man would look at her twice), of the servant Mary they had in Ontario terrace (about whom Bloom had proposed that she could eat at our table on Christmas if you please O no thank you not in my house), the letter she caught him writing when she came into the front room to show him Dignams death in the paper, ... Molly also feels that Bloom knows about her and Boylan (hes not such a fool...).

Quite a bit of the passage that was read today is about having sex. Molly comes across as being quite 'modern', quite 'uninhibited', something remarkable during the early 20th century Catholic Dublin. She is also in a way 'matter of fact', when she thinks '... with all the talk of the world about it people make is only the first time after that its just ordinary do it and think no more about it...".She thinks of the confession she used to go to when Father Corrigan would question her quite probingly about where exactly she was touched, etc. From Father Corrigan, her thoughts wander to Boylan, who was smelling that afternoon of some kind of drink not whisky or stout (in fact Boylan had a sloegin in the bar at Hotel Ormond; see Sirens, episode 11), who had all he could do to keep himself from falling asleep after they took the port and potted meat, crumbs of which Bloom had found on the bed. In fact Molly confesses to herself that she too fell asleep soundly till the sound of the thunder (think of the thunderstorm that struck when Bloom was at the maternity hospital in Holles Street / episode 14, Oxen in the Sun) woke her up, prompting her to say a Hail Mary just as she used to when it used to thunder in Gibraltar, which would make her feel as if the world was coming to an end.

Molly's thoughts then turn to God, church, soul - and Bloom's scoffing at the idea of the existence of the soul and saying, "... you have no soul inside only grey matter." She now thinks he doesn't know what it is to have one, when thinking of the 'one', her thoughts turn to Boylan again. What follows is a detailed description of the 'anatomy' of Boylan, and the time she spent with him in the afternoon, ending with the thought, "... nice invention they made for women for him to get all the pleasure but if someone gave them a touch of it...". This 'it' refers to the pains of child birth, and leads automatically to Mina Purefoy (who had given birth a few hours ago), her useless husband and their many children. 

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