Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ithaca Questions

1. Now that Bloom and Stephen are finally together does one believe that their interactions reflect a father-son relationship? Is one investing more in the other or view the relationship as more than it actually is?

2. How does the title Ithaca reflect what is going on in this episode?

3. How are Bloom and Stephen different yet the same? Whatdo you propose the oath their relationship will take in the future?

4. How is Joyce's style in this episode compare to previous episodes? Why does he choose to write this way for the 2nd to last episode? Does it relate to the content or the importance of what occurs in the second to last episode of this 24 hour novel?


Adam Al-Sayed said...


As Bloom's odyssey ends, Joyce switches his narrative style to the form of a question/answer encyclopedic entry. Rather than following the traditional conflict-climax-resolution format of a novel, he leaves his readers with a more realistic conclusion, one dominated by a significant degree of ambivalence.

katie krumholtz said...

2. The title Ithaca reflects Bloom's final homecoming, simulating Odysseus's return from his years of travel to his beloved home. While Bloom's journey takes only the course of one day rather than many years, Bloom has reached the end of his day's travels across Dublin. As Odysseus is reunited with his son Telemachus, Bloom returns home with his figurative son Stephen and attempts to deepen his connection the young Dedalus.

Adam Stoller said...


Episode 17 Ithaca begins with Bloom inviting Stephen to his house. But Bloom, having forgotten the keys, decides to break in: “he climbed over the area railings, compressed his hat on his head…and slowed his body to move freely in a space by separating himself from the railings and crouching in preparation for the impact of the fall” (652). Bloom like Stephen is a stranger in his own house. Despite differing outlooks and differing roles (Bloom’s role as the paternal figure and Stephen’s as the child), the two are remarkably similar.

The parent child dichotomy is immediately apparent. Bloom prepares some hot water for tea and encourages Stephen to wash his hands. Stephen however, declines due to his irrational fear of drowning (673). Blooms, we latter learn, has a fear of “homicide or drowning during sleep by an aberration of the light of reason” (720).

Likewise, the narrator identifies Bloom as “the scientific” adult and Stephen as “the artistic” free spirit (683). However, Bloom substantiates his scientific interest by referring to inventions like “the aeronautic parachute…[ and] the reflecting telescope” which are really adult words for the children’s toys “elastic airbladders, games of hazard, catapults” (683).

Bloom plays a father to Stephen because that’s what he thinks he needs. But in reality their relationship is more like that of very different equals. Their differences in maturity really boil down to trivial distinctions: “the trajectories of their…urinations were dissimilar” (703).

Adam Stoller said...

Katie, you provide a very good straightforward analysis of the title. But as I see it the Odesseus comparison works in more ways than you give it credit for. This is not just the culmination of just one day’s adventures; this is the resounding, but anticlimactic, finish to a journey that has taken “10 years, 5 months and 18 days” (736). That time period of course corresponds to the time since Bloom lost his son and stopped having sex with Molly. While Stephen exits leaving both feeling unfulfilled, this is the end. Bloom has failed to successfully replace his son. However, the consequences are not all bad. Having moved past his obsession with recreating what he lost, Bloom can appreciate what he has. Bloom looks at Molly’s naked rump and kisses it. He is “satisfied…at the ubiquity in eastern and western hemispheres, in all habitable lands of islands explored and unexplored” (734). He has moved on.

Nick Surbey said...

4. The style of the episode is at once at once a perfect representation of what an ending of a novel is traditionally thought of and at odds with what actually happens within the episode. The question and answer format of the episode plays with the idea that "endings," especially in novels, are thought of as answers. Answers to suspensions that have been building throughout the episode, answers to questions of motivation, tying up of loose threads. The questions posed in the episode question the minute details and motivations of actions taken by the characters and are asnwered with exhausting completeness, often times going on far longer than needed to provide a totally complete answer to the question posed. In this way, the episode is often stagnant while Joyce examines and exhausts different aspects of the scene. The style, however, is at odds with what actually happens in the episode because, for the reader, not much is actually resolved in the story of Bloom or Stephen. As Adam states above, the episode is "dominated by a significant degree of ambivolecne." This ambivolence is in direct opposition to the exhuastive quality of the answers provided to the questions posed in the narrative of the episode and perhaps highten the sense that things are not truly resolved in this, the episode of finally returning home.

Michael Turgeon said...

2: Ithaca

Bloom returns home to Molly, analogous to Odysseus returning home to Penelope, and slaying her suitors.

It was interesting that Bloom’s return wasn’t the heroism we would expect—Bloom’s desire and ambition to have a well furnished suburban bungalow illustrates just how proverbial he is. Though this is the case, Bloom fulfills his heroic role by "slaying" Molly's suitors each in turn by recounting them and realizing their respective frames of mind, thus conquering them.

Michael Turgeon said...

Interesting fact:

This episode, Ithaca, written in the form of a rigidly organized catechism (traditionally used in religious teaching), was reported as Joyce's favorite episode in Ulysses.