Ulysses – Episode Ten: “The Wandering Rocks”

Summary
Episode Ten consists of nineteen short views of characters,
major and minor, as they make their way around Dublin in the afternoon. Within
each subsection, short, disjunctive paragraphs pop up that depict
a simultaneous action in some other part of the city. These are not
rendered below.
Father John Conmee travels from his Dublin presbytery
to a suburban school to try to get Patrick Dignam’s son admitted
for free. Conmee walks to the tram station, passing a one-legged
sailor, three schoolboys, and others on the way. Conmee gets on
an outbound tram, notices a poster of Eugene Stratton, a blackface
minstrel, and thinks about missionary work. Conmee gets off at Howth
road, takes out his breviary (book of prayers), and reads to himself
as he walks. In front of him, a young couple guiltily emerges from
the hedgerow. Conmee blesses them.
Corny Kelleher examines a coffinlid, then gossips with
a policeman.
The one-legged sailor crutches up Eccles street, singing
a patriotic English song and asking for alms. He passes Katey and
Boody Dedalus. A woman’s arm (Molly’s) throws a coin out of a window for
the sailor.
Katey and Boody Dedalus enter their kitchen, where their
sister Maggy is washing clothes. The Dedalus sisters discuss the
household’s lack of money and food—Sister Mary Patrick has donated some
pea soup to them. Maggy explains that Dilly has gone to see their
father, Simon Dedalus.
The throwaway that Bloom threw into the river in Episode
Eight floats down river.
A shopgirl arranges a basket of food for Blazes Boylan.
Boylan writes the delivery address and looks down the girl’s shirt.
He takes a red flower for his lapel and asks to use her telephone.
Stephen meets his voice teacher, Almidano Artifoni, in
the street outside Trinity College. Artifoni tries to persuade Stephen
to pursue a music career in Dublin. Stephen is flattered. Artifoni
runs to catch a tram.
Miss Dunne, Blazes Boylan’s secretary, puts away the
novel she is reading. She daydreams about going out tonight. Boylan
calls. Miss Dunne tells Boylan that Lenehan will be at the Ormond
Hotel at four o’clock.
Ned Lambert meets with J.J. O’Molloy and the reverend
Hugh C. Love to show the reverend around Saint Mary’s Abbey (now Lambert’s
warehouse). Lambert discusses the history of the abbey with Love,
who is writing a history book. Lambert and O’Molloy discuss O’Molloy’s
money troubles.
Tom Rochford shows his invention, a mechanism to keep
track of betting races, to Nosey Flynn, McCoy, and Lenehan. Lenehan promises
to speak to Boylan this afternoon about Rochford’s in-vention. McCoy
and Lenehan leave together. Lenehan ducks into a betting office
to check on the price for Sceptre, his pick for the Gold Cup race.
Lenehan re-emerges and reports to McCoy that Bantam Lyons is inside
betting on a long-shot horse (the horse Lyons thinks Bloom tipped
him to in Episode Five). The men spot Bloom looking through a book
merchant’s cart nearby. Lenehan claims to have groped a willing
Molly. McCoy sticks up for Bloom, who he thinks has an artistic
side.
Bloom looks through the books at a bookseller’s cart
and settles on Sweets of Sin for Molly.
At Dillon’s auction rooms, the lacquey rings the bell.
Dilly Dedalus waits outside for her father. Simon emerges and Dilly
asks him for money. He hands over a shilling he borrowed from Jack
Power. Dilly suspects he has more money, but Simon walks away from
her.
The viceregal cavalcade has begun its cross-town journey.
Tom Kernan passes the spot where the patriot Robert Emmet was
hanged, and thinks of Ben Dollard singing “The Croppy Boy.” Kernan
spots the viceregal cavalcade, but waves too late.
Stephen looks at jewels in a shop window, then browses
a bookseller’s cart. His sister Dilly approaches him and asks Stephen
if a French primer that she just bought is good. Stephen considers
Dilly, who has his eyes and his quick mind but who is caught in
the desperate situation at their family home. Stephen is caught
between an impulse to save Dilly and the others and an impulse to
escape from them completely.
Bob Cowley greets Simon Dedalus and they discuss Cowley’s debt
to Reuben J. Dodd, the moneylender. Ben Dollard arrives with advice
about Cowley’s debt.
Martin Cunningham, along with Jack Power and John Wyse Nolan,
conducts a collection for the Dignam children. Nolan ironically
notes Bloom’s generous five-shilling donation. Cunningham, Power,
and Nolan meet up with John Henry, the assistant town clerk, and
John Fanning, the subsheriff. The viceregal cavalcade passes them.
Buck Mulligan and Haines sit in a coffeeshop, where Parnell’s brother
is playing chess in the corner. Haines and Mulligan discuss Stephen—Haines
thinks Stephen is mentally off-balance. Mulligan agrees that Stephen
will never turn out to be a true poet, because he has been damaged
by Catholic visions of hell.
Tisdall Farrell walks behind Almidano Artifoni in a zigzag
and collides with the blind man that Bloom helped at the end of
Episode Eight.
Dignam’s son, Patrick junior, walks homeward carrying
porksteaks. He passes other schoolboys and wonders if they know
of his father’s death. He thinks of his father’s coffin being carried
out and the last time he saw his father, who was drunk and going
out to the pub.
The progress of the viceregal cavalcade (containing William Humble,
Earl of Dudley and Lady Dudley, among others) is tracked, from the
viceregal lodge in Phoenix park to the Mirus bazaar. It passes many
of the people we have seen so far in the chapter. Most of them notice,
and some salute the cavalcade.
Analysis
Episode Ten, “The Wandering Rocks,” serves as an interlude between
the first and last nine episodes. The technique of the episode is
somewhat filmic. The episode as a whole renders the sense of a wide
view of the entire city of Dublin, with figures moving throughout,
while the nineteen subsections, and the cut-aways within them, function
as quickly changing close-ups. Accordingly, much of the episode
is focused on exteriors—appearances and movements. Few characters
are granted more than a line or two of interior monologue. The “Wandering
Rocks” of The Odyssey were apparently boulders
that shifted position in the mist and could capsize a ship (Odysseus
never actually sailed through them). Joyce’s “Wandering Rocks” in
Episode Ten are represented by textual traps for the reader. The
most common type of trap is the one- or two-line interpolations
that suddenly describe action happening elsewhere. These textual
traps make the narrator seem particularly masterful or obtuse.
The episode is framed on each end by an extended progression—Father
Conmee’s trip to a suburban school at the beginning, and the viceregal
cavalcade’s progress from Phoenix Park to the Mirus bazaar at the
end. Both are on altruistic errands—Conmee is trying to get Dignam’s
son into Jesuit school for free, and the Earl of Dudley is presiding
over the Mirus charity bazaar to benefit Mercer’s Hospital. Individually,
they represent the power of religious and -governmental institutions.
We get a closer view of Stephen’s family in this episode.
Stephen is not currently sleeping at home, where his sisters, Maggy,
Katey, Boody, and Dilly, struggle to provide subsistence for themselves
and the rest of the family since their mother has died. Stephen’s
run-in with Dilly at the bookseller’s stall shows Stephen experiencing remorse
about his family, especially because Dilly shows a spark of intellect
similar to his own. Yet he has just received a paycheck today, and
it has been and will be spent on drink, like his father’s money.
Stephen refuses to succumb to his conscience and be dragged back
into the despair of his family’s poverty and misery.
Bloom and Stephen, though they do not meet, are further
aligned in this episode. We see both men browsing a bookseller’s
cart (both, interestingly, look at books about sex). Both men do
not see the viceregal cavalcade at the end, though most of the other
characters do. We see other characters gossiping about Stephen and
Bloom, specifically referencing their artistic sensibilities. McCoy
tells Lenehan that Bloom has a refined, artistic side, while Buck
tells Haines that, though he will never be a poet, Stephen will
write something in ten years. This schematic alignment of Stephen
and Bloom prepares us for their climactic meeting to come and prepares
us to see their “relationship” as potentially something other than
father-son.