Bloom cements his role as “outsider” in this section, but also as a thinker of cool new ideas (inserting telephones in a coffin, just on the off chance one is buried alive, similar to Uma Thurman in Kill Bill? Sheer genius!)
As he is on his way to the funeral of his suddenly departed friend Dignam, he shares a carriage ride to the services with a number of acquaintances. It is pointed out that he is the last to get in to the carriage and then frequently ignored or slighted by his companions. We’ve all been in this situation: on a long car ride with a group, or in some sort of carpool situation with people you don’t know that well. I myself spent half a day touring the island of Oahu with a mini-van full of relatives, sitting one butt cheek on, one off, balancing against the door at every curve in the road. Other times I’ve pretended to be incredibly interested in the scenery due to the distinct feeling that I wasn’t really part of a conversation taking place among a group in a car and that no one was really interested in what I was saying and in fact were more interested in the lyrics to a Lady Gaga song playing just then on the radio. For these reasons I had no problems relating to our hero/anti-hero Bloom.
One thing I was not expecting was that I would become so intimately acquainted with Stephen’s father, Simon, who turns up in the carriage. It is a bit fun having this alternate perspective of Stephen’s take on the events of his life, as his father seems like not such a bad fellow, especially as he visits the grave of his recently departed wife later on in the section.
The chapter is overall a memorable one not just for the Occasion that the chapter centers around, but for the real go at traditional story-telling being made by Joyce. Dialogue, conflict, time progressing at a understandable rate — I can barely believe it!