Tuesday, March 25, 2008

blood of the lamb

over the course of episode eight, joyce manages to tie together themes of hunger, greed, sacrifice, and thanklessness as he portrays life, through the eyes of bloom, as a ceaseless machine. throughout the episode, we are given many glimpses of gluttony. the episode opens with a scene in a candy shop where a girl is "shovelling scoopfuls of creams for a christian brother" (151). moments later, bloom buys a few cakes to feed the gulls at which point they "swooped silently... pouncing on prety. gone. every moresel" (153). when bloom meets mrs. breen in the street, he notices "flakes of pastry on the gusset of her dress" and a "daub of sugary flour stuck to her cheek" (158)... signs of potentially gluttonous consumption. finally, and perhaps most explicitly, bloom finds himself disgusted with the patrons of the burton restaurant who are thanklessly stuffing their faces with food.

on page 171, bloom ponders the slaughter of animals, thinking of "brutes there at the cattlemarket waiting for the poleaxe to split their skulls open" and "flayed glasseyed sheep hung from their haunches." essentially, these animals are raised and killed only to be eaten by gluttonous men in a dublin restaurant. and so bloom begins to ponder his own purpose of existence. depression sets in as bloom thinks about the ceaseless machine of life. he has already considered the cycle of life and death earlier in his day, but now he shifts to a more pessimistic view of this cycle. children are brought into this world (often with great struggle, as in the case of mina purefoy's three day labor). they go through the motions of life. they die. others are born. and the world goes on. people are simply part of this great machine that never stops. "no one is anything" (164).

even the bustling town of dublin doesn't raise his spirits. instead, it brings him down. "this is the very worst hour of the day. vitality. dull, gloomy: hate this hour. feel as if i had been eaten and spewed" (164). bloom realizes that he was brought into this world only to play along with society's machine for awhile, and then he will die once he is too old to be of any use to the world. eaten and spewed. taken for granted. thanklessness. this sense of thanklessness is echoed when bloom thinks of doctors bothered "at all hours" when a new child is born, and are then kept "waiting months for their fee... no gratitude in people" (162). this theme is also portrayed at the beginning of the episode when bloom feeds the hungry gulls. he decides not to give them anymore food as the thinks, "lot of thanks i get. not even a caw" (153).

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