The second half of Episode 4 finds Bloom returning home from his early morning walk to the Butcher’s shop. He finds two letters delivered in the morning mail, and thus begins the intrigue between Molly and Leopold which forms much of the framework of their story. We soon learn of Molly’s ongoing infidelity, and her planned liaison with Blazes Boylan, who is in the running thus far for the character with the best name.
The scene between Molly and Leopold as he prepares her tea and serves her breakfast in bed is somewhat tender despite the tone of suspicion and fear that also clearly haunts Bloom. At the same time, there is something slightly bawdy about Molly and her depiction as she lounges around in bed:
Following the pointing of her finger he took up a leg of her soiled drawers from the bed. No? Then, a twisted grey garter looped round a stocking: rumpled, shiny sole.
— No: that book.
Other stocking. Her petticoat.
— It must have fell down, she said.
He felt here and there. Voglio e non vorvez. Wonder if she pronounces that right: voglio. Not in the bed. Must have slid down. He stooped and lifted the valance. The book, fallen, sprawled against the bulge of the orange-keyed chamberpot.
Leopold sits and talks over a book Molly’s been reading, discussing the meaning of a particular word, and then small talk continues around the late fee she will incur at the Library, all the while skirting around the issue of the letter she has received, we infer, from Boylan.
Bloom’s burning breakfast causes him to rush away downstairs, where he is then preoccupied with reading the second letter, from his daughter and only living child, Milly.
Molly and our image of her are left in the bedroom while Bloom finishes his breakfast, and the earthyness of the whole episode is completed as we are treated to a scene with Bloom on the toilet. Thus Bloom is fully contrasted to Stephen, a recurring theme, and in particular to Episode 3 with Stephen where we barely have a sense of Stephen’s body at all. Here we have the fully spectrum of eating, shitting, and sex before the morning has even passed.