The Wandering Rocks
It is now five to three (2.55 pm) and this episode forms the centre of this work. There is a constant shift of focalizers here, and begins with Father Conmee's perspective. He is thinking of the millions that have not been baptized and what a waste this is to his religion.
The perspective shifts to that of Corny Kelleher, who has just been passed by the priest. He is on Eccles Street, where the Bloom family live, and notices a coin being thrown out of the window. The readers learn later that this has been thrown by Molly. The focus moves again, this time to a one-legged sailor and it is explained that the coin has been thrown to him.
The next focalizers are sisters of Stephen Dedalus (Katey, Boody and Maggy) and it is apparent that this family live in poverty. It is clear that Maggy has tried and failed to sell some books - and it is suggested here and later that these belonged to Stephen. Boody is hungry and Maggy tells her their pea soup is from Sister Mary Patrick.
The action moves to a blonde girl serving Boylan a basket of fruit, which we later learn is for Molly. Boylan sees the men advertising H.E.L.Y.S., as Bloom did earlier, and a 'darkbacked' figure can be seen scanning second-hand books Merchant's arch. This is Bloom. Boylan continues to flirt with the woman serving him.
A variety of perspectives continue to be introduced: Stephen is talking to Almidano Artifoni the music teacher; Miss Dunne, Boylan's secretary, talks to Boylan on the telephone; and Ned Lambert is in Saint Mary's Abbey (which is on the site of the Jewish synagogue).
Tom Rochford, Lenehan and McCoy are the next group examined and they see Bloom looking at the books. Lenehan reveals his lechery towards Molly, and explains an incident in a carriage when he groped her whilst Bloom was discussing astronomy and looking at the sky. McCoy appears not to approve and Lenehan changes his tone to say Bloom has 'a touch of the artist about him'.
Bloom is then focused upon as he ruminates over which book to buy for Molly. It is revealed that he already has Tales of the Ghetto by Leopold von Sacher Masoch, and decides to buy her the lurid-sounding Sweets of Sin.
The perspective shifts to a discussion between Dilly Dedalus and her father Simon. She asks him if he has any money and he replies no. She does not believe him and he eventually gives her a shilling. After moving to Tom Kernan's actions, the action shifts to Stephen stopping at a book cart (where Bloom has just been). Stephen thinks he might find one of his pawned school prizes (and so is aware of the financial constraints his family face). His sister Dilly asks him what he is doing there and she shows him the French primer she has bought to teach herself French. He refrains from teasing her and tells her to watch that their sister Maggy does not pawn it. When he supposes that all his books have gone, Dilly replies that some have been sold - because they had to.
The use of a variety of perspectives continues: there is a discussion between Simon Dedalus, Father Cowley and Ben Dollard; Martin Cunningham and Mr Power see the Lord Lieutenant General and General Governor of Ireland; Mulligan and Haines (who have been staying with Stephen) spot Parnell's brother; Cashel Boyle O'Connor Fitzmaurice Tisdall Farrell accidentally bumps into the 'blind stripling' and is called a 'bitch's bastard' by the blind man.
The thoughts of master Dignam are then related. This is one of the son's of Paddy Dignam. The son recalls the last time he saw his father. The father was drunk and bawling for his boots. The action moves again to the cavalcade which includes the Lord Lieutenant, Earl of Dudley and Lady Dudley.
The significance of this section rests on the frequent movements between characters and their perspectives. In the background is a cavalcade of civic and aristocratic dignitaries, but it is the 'ordinary' man and woman who dominate this and the other episodes.
More details are given here of Stephen's family background, in particular in the encounter between Dilly and their father, Simon. His daughter asks repeatedly for money and he only relents after pressure is placed on him. Further to this, it is made obvious that Stephen's books have been sold in order to keep the children fed and clothed.
Another father-son relationship is offered towards the end of this episode as master Dignam remembers the last time he saw his father. His memories are also blighted by his father drinking.
Parallels between Bloom and Stephen are also made explicit here as both characters separately examine the books for sale. This similarity draws the readers to appreciate that these two have a recognizable bond which becomes more obvious in the final chapter.
Ulysses: Novel Summary: Chapter Two - Episode 10
The Wandering Rocks