I love The Wandering Rocks, and so will you. If you read no other section of the book, take a look at Episode 10. The prose is highly readable and the whole section flows, much like a movie montage, as we step in and out of the lives of the populace of Dublin, circa 1904. The Wandering Rocks gives us a glimpse into the lives of 19 Dubliners going about their days — shopping, cleaning, gossiping, working, not working, going to visit. There are characters that have become familiar — the Dedalus family, Corny Kelleher, Buck Mulligan and Haines, the Dignam children, and Blazes Boylan. In this section there is a replication of the small town feeling that is actually experienced throughout much of Ireland: Dublin in this case becomes the village where everyone knows one another and more importantly everyone knows one another’s business. We also notably get our first glimpse of Molly since way back in Episode 4. Or rather we see her arm, extending out the window to make a charitable donation to a one-legged sailor passing by. Molly is still ensconsed in her bedroom, waiting for her lover. Of particular interest and serving as a connecting line is the progress of a viceregal cavalcade. The Viceroy was the “Lord Lieutenant of Ireland” or the British monarchy’s appointed ruler over Ireland before the end of occupation. This governance scenario lasted until 1920. In Ulysses the Viceroy, the Earl of Dudley and his wife, are moving across town from their residence in Phoenix Park in the center of the city to the area of Ballsbridge where they are evidently opening a charity bazaar.
Phoenix Park will come into discussion again later in the book so it is perhaps notable here to view the way the citizens within the Wandering Rocks are all politely deferential to the horse drawn carriage, and those in it, making its way through the city. In fact there is much written about how Episode 10 begins with a depiction of a priest, Father Conmee on a charitable errand attempting to look after the well being of Patrick Dignam’s son in securing him a place in school. In this way the 19 vignettes are bookended by depictions of the church and state.