The Lotus Eaters
This begins with Bloom making the journey to the funeral. He transfers a card from his hat (where it has obviously been hidden) to his waistcoat pocket and stops at the post office to see if there are any letters for him. He uses the pseudonym Henry Flowers.
Outside, Bloom stops to talk to McCoy and simultaneously watches a woman outside the Grosvenor Hotel. McCoy's reference to a case of drowning links the reader back to earlier references when Stephen was on the beach.
Bloom then thinks of his father and how he is glad that he did not look at his face. It is implied that he means when his father died. An examination of the letter he has picked up from the post office reveals that it is from Martha, and she calls him a naughty boy. She has also sent a flower, which he puts in his pocket; he throws the pin away and tears up the envelope.
He then enters All Hallows church. He sees people receiving Communion and considers this process to be a 'rum idea'. There is also the thought that the church 'rake it in'. He leaves the church and visits the chemist and asks them to make up a lotion, which is for Molly. He buys soap and promises to come back later for the lotion (although he forgets to do so).
In terms of later significance in the plot, Bloom encounters Bantam Lyons who borrows Bloom's newspaper to check the racing for the Ascot Gold Cup, which is to be held that day. A misunderstanding occurs when Bloom repeats he was going to throw it away, so Lyons may keep the newspaper. Lyons misinterprets him and believes Bloom is giving him a tip on the horse Throwaway. After this event, Bloom considers how he is looking forward to visiting the baths and heads off in that direction.
It is revealed here that Bloom has secrets too and that he uses a pseudonym in his relationship with Martha. This relationship is, however, a chaste one and is conducted by letter only.
After receiving the letter and deciding to visit the church, it is clear that at this instance that Bloom's status of outsider is being used to criticize the Catholic religion. His questioning of Communion as a 'rum idea' and the implication that the Church is wealthy because of its believers is used as a vehicle to undermine the hegemony of Catholicism in Ireland.
Ulysses: Novel Summary: Chapter Two - Episode 5
The Lotus Eaters