Oxen of the Sun
Bloom has now reached the maternity hospital as he wishes to visit his friend Mrs Purefoy. Varying styles are employed in this section as, for instance, a mock version of Chaucer's writing is drawn upon to describe Bloom's presence.
A student doctor, Dixon, appears as Bloom talks to Nurse Callan and he invites Bloom to join him at a party. He agrees to this and takes a drink he is offered although he does not actually want one. Lenehan, Lynch, Madden Crotthers and Stephen are already there.
All the men agree that the mother should be saved if it is a choice between her life and the baby's. The Catholic view of contraception is criticized by Stephen, as Bloom has previously. Bloom has sympathy for a shrieking woman who can be heard and remembers Molly knitting a lamb's wool vest for Rudy to be buried in.
After Stephen blasphemes, thunder can be heard and this petrifies Stephen. The narrative then cuts to Mulligan who is on the way to the maternity hospital. He encounters Alec Bannon, who has just come from Mullingar (where Milly is) and refers to her as a 'skittish heifer'.
Mrs Purefoy is described and we are told she is still waiting to give birth to her ninth child. Mulligan then appears and hands cards round to the men. They have his name on and the words 'Fertiliser and Incubator'. Bloom is patient at first with the other men, because of their youth, but has difficulties with a character named Costello.
After talk of the Childs murder case, Bloom goes on to think of himself when he was a young man, 'a mirror within a mirror'. Back to the present, he considers how the others could be his sons and remembers the first time he had sex, with a prostitute.
Discussions ensue of abortion and infanticide and Bloom recalls seeing Stephen as a young boy with other children around him. Stephen was looking at his mother. Stephen then leads the men out to the pub and their drunken language is captured accurately. At closing time, Stephen and Lynch set off for the brothels in night-town.
Fertility and parenthood are two central themes in this episode. This is ostensibly because of the use of the maternity hospital as a backdrop, but also because of the topics of conversation and the meeting of Stephen and Bloom. Further to this, Bloom recalls his younger selves and it is as though he is the father of himself. This is expanded upon when he considers that he could potentially be the father of these men. The references to his children, Rudy and Milly, emphasize the theme of this section and how Bloom's thoughts return to his family.
The varied use of language styles is also noteworthy as this layers this particular episode with a multitude of discourses. The shifts in style exemplify Joyce's ability as a ventriloquist. They are also typical of high modernist text because of the use of parody and this in turn allows for the questioning of the notion of originality. By using the style of authors such as Chaucer and Defoe, for example, Joyce reveals the influences that pass down to authors and readers. It is also a playful use of language that highlights the modernist interest in form and style.
Ulysses: Novel Summary: Chapter Two - Episode 14
Oxen of the Sun