Friday, March 21, 2008

Death: Ordinary or Extraordinary?

Death is a universal occurance. It happens everywhere and to everyone. However, individuals deal with death very differently just as how individuals confront life very differently. When Bloom attends the funeral for Dignum, he does not express feelings of intense sadness but rather looks at death on a larger scale. He is able to take a step back and view death in the context of life.

Because death removes life from something that was a part of overall life, the world is not exactly the same when that life disappears. Individuals and things are impacted. For example, both Stephen and Bloom are still haunted by the deaths of loved ones. Although Bloom recognizes the void left by death, he contemplates why the living spend so much time and money on funerals when the person who they are honoring is not even alive to see it. Bloom has a very practical, realist outlook on life and death. Thus, he is not afraid to expose the ordinary and commonplace qualities of death because he views it as something that is inevitable for all living species and in turn is just a mere run-of-the-mill event.

Joyce uses Bloom to decribe an outlook on death that is not expected from an individual attending a funeral. Joyce is not afraid to create characters that go against the grade as well as challenge what some view as appropriate behavior and thoughts. Therefore, Joyce gives us access to Bloom's mind in an unfiltered, uncensored fashion unlike many authors who might shy away from the graphic details that appear in some human minds. In addition, readers are given the chance to explore two very different minds: Bloom's and Stephen's. Joyce uses Bloom's pragmatist outlook as a contrast to Stephen's poetic outlook on life and death. By illustrating the circumstances that comprise Stephen and Bloom's lives, Joyce provides the reader with a deeper understanding of why they think, process, and interact in certain ways. Stephen and Bloom's persepectives on death will differ because their lives were shaped differently.

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