Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bloom and Bald Pat

Deaf bald Pat appears largely out of place in the sound-themed episode "sirens." He is hard-of-hearing and cannot fully enjoy the sounds of the piano or of the men singing. Instead of the repetition of the tuner's tap, which everyone but Pat hears, you have the repetition of the word "wait": "Wait, wait. Pat, waiter, waited" (266). He is characterized not just by his deafness or his baldness but by his passive waiting. I suppose he's a bit like Odysseus' crew, who plugged their ears and so could not hear the sirens. I think, however, that bald Pat bears closer resemblance to Bloom.

The narrative, when it wanders around to bald Pat, becomes strangely choppy and repetitive: "Bald deaf Pat brough quite flat pad ink. Pat set with ink pen quite flat pad. Pat took plate dish knife fork. Pat went" (278). This strangely light narrative creates an image of Pat as almost comical. Indeed, like Bloom he is a subject of mockery: "Paint face behind on him then he'd be two" (280)... "Pat is a waiter hard of his hearing. Pat is a waiter who waits while you wait. Hee hee hee hee. He waits while you wait. Hee hee. A waiter is he. Hee hee hee hee... While you wait if you wait he will wait while you wait" (280).

His disability excludes him from the musical experience. Like Bloom, who in this episode "sang dumb" (276), he is an "other." That he is introduced as bald Pat rather than just "Pat" serves to underline yet another imperfection and makes him look even more comical. He is physically located in another room, separated from the beautiful voices. He strains to hear through the door. Bloom too is in this other room, separated, physically and mentally. Like bald Pat, he can only wait. He waits in the restaurant for Boylan, hoping to follow him (he fails). He can only wait as minutes pass and Boylan drives closer to bloom's house. Later, he stands on the beach passively as his wife and Boylan have sex.

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