Ulysses Summary and Analysis of Chapters 7-9

Chapter Seven: Aeolus


After the Dignam funeral, Bloom goes downtown to the newspaper office (an office for three different publications) to work on his newest advertising assignment, a two-month renewal for Alexander Keyes. Bloom appears close to accomplishing his goal because Keyes previous ad is easily recovered. Problems arise when the business manager, Nannetti, decides that Keyes should take out a three-month advertisement and he is largely unwilling to compromise. Nannetti¹s tone is sarcastic when he addresses Bloom and so the ad canvasser is unclear as to whether or not he will have to re-negotiate his contract with Keyes, though in the end it seems that this is the case.

To further complicate manners, Bloom learns that he will have to trek to the National Library to retrieve a specific graphic image of two crossed keys. The Keyes house wanted to use this image and though it was the same image that they used in their last advertisement, Bloom is unable to find a copy of it in the office. Bloom's escapades in the office are interrupted by the entrance and exit of both Simon and Stephen Dedalus at different times and within different groups. Simon Dedalus has arrived with a few of his friends who were also in attendance at the funeral and they eventually leave for drinks. While they are there, the men discuss and ridicule a recent patriotic speech that has printed in the paper.

When Stephen arrives, he sends a telegraph to Mulligan, notifying him that he will not be going to the Ship. Instead, Mulligan and Stephen will cross paths in the National Library, though Stephen is wholly unaware of Leopold Bloom and his plans. Stephen is also engaged in a political discussion in which he tells what he calls the Parable of the Plums, describing the Irish condition as that of two old women who have begun to climb the tall statue of the British Lord Nelson. Having stopped midway, they take a break to eat plums, spitting the pits down into the Irish soil. At this point, the two old women are horrified and unable to move, frightened by the distance between their current position and ground level. At the same time though, they find Lord Nelson¹s face to be unwelcoming and menacing and they refuse to climb any further on the statue, resigned to live the rest of their lives clutching on Lord Nelson¹s midsection. After telling the parable to his enthusiastic and older audience, Stephen delivers Mr. Deasy's letter on Irish cattle, which the staff reluctantly agrees to print. Bloom re-appears towards the end of the chapter as he attempts to call Keyes to confirm the three-month renewal before beginning the work but all of his attempts at communication are unsuccessful as his co-workers are disrespectful and only make Bloom's assignment more difficult than it needs to be.


Aeolus, the god of wind, decided to grant Ulysses a blessing. Specifically, Aeolus gave Ulysses a taut leather bag containing all of the winds of the sea. With these winds bound, Ulysses was guaranteed a safe and speedy passage home. As Ulysses fastened the bag to the mast of the ship, his crew suspected that it was a treasure that he was selfishly hoarding for himself. Eventually, their greed and curiosity overcame them and the bag was slit open, releasing pent-up winds that blew Ulysses off of his course even as home was in sight. The first parallel to the Homeric episode is in Bloom's frustrated wandering through the office, mirroring his wandering through the city. Just as Bloom was nearing the end of his Keyes assignment, he was blown off course just as Ulysses was.

Literary critics also suggest that Joyce is also satirizing "windy" and "inflated" news reporting in the "Aeolus" chapter, as another parallel to the Homeric episode. The chapter is divided into sixty-three sections. Each section has a hyperbolic headline that greatly exaggerates the narrative action of the section. Bloom's blunders are exaggerated into cataclysm and the banter of the news office takes on crucial importance. As a result, "Aeolus" is a light relief from the heavy tone of "Hades."

While Bloom's escapades are humorous, Joyce is careful to illustrate the myriad ways in which Bloom functions as an outsider. Ironically, the business manager who causes most of Bloom's problems is not an Irishman but an Italian named Nannetti, indicating that Bloom is among the most marginal of the excluded. Bloom does not only suffer the insult of not having his questions answered; later in the chapter, Lenehan accidentally bumps into him and exaggerates a false apology. Towards the end of "Aeolus," the newsboys make fun of Bloom's gait and Lenehan dances a mazurka in his own attempt to poke fun at Bloom. It is only at the very end of the novel that we read that Bloom is in fact aware of the derision that occurs when he is not present. Bloom's travels throughout the office and the derision that he suffers give us the first complete glimpse of Joyce's "Wandering Jew" motif. Bloom's departure for the National Library foreshadows his appearance in "Scylla and Charybdis," where he crosses paths with Stephen Dedalus, much as the two Dedaluses crossed paths in this chapter. The image of the crossed keys for the Keyes ad, is the final component of the larger motif of the keyless Bloom, doomed to wander.

The separate conversations of Simon and Stephen Dedalus are two opportunities for Joyce to develop the political themes of the novel. Simon Dedalus is accompanied by MacHugh, Lambert, O'Molloy, Crawford and Lenehan. The discussion of Dan Dawson's speech in the newspaper focuses on an empty brand of patriotism and the comments made by the news reporters demonstrate the level of media incompetence that Joyce is satirizing in "Aeolus." The conversation is colored by gossip, incorrect names and places as well as transposed dates. Most ironically, the entire discussion-over the necessary resurrection of the Irish language-takes place in English. Another chief irony can be seen in the gentlemen's exclusion of Bloom from the conversation, all the while appropriating the images and rhetoric of a "chosen people" suffering "captivity" while awaiting a "Messiah." Stephen's brief contribution to newsroom conversation is a parable entitled "Pigsah Sight of Palestine or the Parable of the Plums," in which he suggests that the young Irishman who has heard the call to stay home is both trapped in domestic sterility and unable to go abroad. This parable is a prelude to Stephen's extensive, though somewhat naïve philosophizing in "Scylla and Charybdis," which takes place in the National Library.

Chapter Eight: The Lestrygonians


Chapter Eight is a chronology of Bloom's early afternoon. Rather than directly venturing to the National Library, Bloom wanders for a little over an hour and the narrative of the chapter follows his course as he decides to get something to eat. A young proselytizer affiliated with the YMCA hands Bloom a "throwaway" tract and when Bloom first reads the words: "blood of the lamb," he mistakes the letters B-L-O-O for the beginning of his own name. Soon after, Bloom sees one of Simon Dedalus' daughters waiting for him outside a bar. Bloom then feeds the gulls, watches the five men advertising H.E.L.Y.S. establishment, listens to Mrs. Breen's story concerning her husband, Denis, who is losing his mind. Mr. Denis Breen has received a postcard in the mail that reads "U. p: up" and enraged, by the unintelligible prank, he has ventured to a lawyer in order to press charges. Denis Breen intends to sue for libel, though he is unaware of the intent or sender of the postcard.

Mrs. Breen also shares the story of Mina Purefoy, who has been in labor for three days. Purefoy is losing her strength and apparently, Mrs. Breen has recently visited her in the National Maternity Hospital. Concerned for Mrs. Purefoy, Bloom decides that he will visit the pregnant woman and a little after this decision, Bloom encounters an in/famous character by the name of Cashel Boyle O'Connor Fitzmaurice Tisdall Farell. Farrell is another Dublin crazyman who spends him time walking in between the lampposts. After avoiding Farrell's track, a hungry Bloom enters the Burton Restaurant but he leaves, disgusted by the exceptionally poor habits of the savage customers. Bloom, in fact, does not even give himself the chance to sit down in the Restaurant, whose somewhat opulent décor contrasts the loud noise of the animated diners.

After leaving the Burton Restaurant, Bloom continues his wandering through the city before he finally opts for Davy Byrne's "moral pub," where he sees Nosey Flynn. Just as the "moral pub" is considerably cleaner than the Burton Restaurant, Flynn presents himself as a decent man‹though he too, is not the cleanest. Flynn is constantly picking and brushing lice off his shoulders. The conversation inside Byrne's touches upon Blazes Boylan as well as the upcoming horserace in which Sceptre is heavily favored. After Bloom's exit, Byrne and Flynn discuss the wanderer, concluding rather fairly that he is a decent man despite his deliberate ambiguity and consistent refusal to sign his name to any agreement. The chapter ends soon after Bloom is on the path to the National Library. He helps a "blind stripling" cross street and soon after, Bloom enters a Museum, presumably to hide from Blazes Boylan whose path has again crossed with Bloom's.


The Lestrygonians were a tribe of cannibalistic giants who terrorized Ulysses' crew much as the one-eyed giant, Polyphemus, provided a formidable challenge when Ulysses entered the land of the Cyclops. In Chapter Eight, the Lestrygonian theme is developed in Joyce's copious puns and allusions to cannibalism. There is an interesting relationship to the "cannibalism" motif of this chapter and the "slaughter" motif of "Oxen of the Sun" (Chapter Fourteen). Earlier in the novel, we learn that food and eating are among Bloom's favorite diversions and Joyce expands the motif of "cannibalism" to eating or rather, dirty eating. The diners in the Burton Restaurant are as "bestial" as the gulls at the quay.

In the depiction of the gulls and the Burton diners, Joyce foreshadows the victims of Circe, whose enchanting banquet table inspires excessive greed in Ulysses' men. After gorging themselves they turn into swine, literally becoming "bestial." Joyce also refers to the gulls as greedy "men" grabbing at the "manna" which Bloom offers them. Through the motif of food then, Joyce has constructed Bloom as a beneficent God or Messiah. Joyce's eaters also testify to his concern that the depths of human character are too bestial. While these themes reach their climax in Chapter Fifteen, "Circe," it is in this chapter that Joyce almost excessively notes the humanitarian excess of Bloom's heart. Bloom's confluence with Christ is fully realized to the degree that he sacrifices himself for others gain, literally offering his flesh as sustenance, a parallel to the Eucharist. Bloom actions point to a definition of love that necessitates a painful sacrifice by one party involved though he may eventually reject this by the novel's end.

This chapter, like "Circe" and "Hades," focuses on the idea of human frailty in its most laughable and hyperbolic forms. Our comic hero, has not fought Trojan battles or defied gods. Instead, he walks the blind across busy streets and makes plans to visit pregnant women. In "The Lestrygonians," Joyce is careful to balance the "greedy men" and "dirty eaters" with purely comic characters like the Farrell and Denis Breen. Like Mrs. Cunningham's pawn shop visits, Denis Breen's antics are tormenting his spouse. Denis has received an anonymous postcard in the mail that reads, unintelligibly "U. p: up" and as a result, Denis is seeking legal advice with the intention of suing for libel. Mina Purefoy's sixty hours of labor are just as hyperbolic and Joyce's "dirty eating" motif takes a morbid turn in his depiction of Nosey Flynn who picks at and eats the lice which are feeding upon his body. And Bloom is not without his own bizarre habits: he enters the Museum and tries to avoid being caught staring at the rear ends of the ancient sculptures; Bloom is curious as to whether or not the statues have anuses.

One of Joyce's purposes in Ulysses was to depict both the sublime and bestial aspects of human nature and the sordid and grim squalor of Dublin is juxtaposed with Bloom's memory of happiness in Ben Howth. Ben Howth increasingly figures in Bloom's mind as he remembers kissing Molly and sharing a seedcake but the escapist euphoria of Ben Howth is undercut by Molly and Blazes' affair and Bloom is tortured as he counts down the minutes. The backward-looking gaze of the Bloom we saw in "Hades" is largely replaced by a series of events which foreshadow Bloom's later actions. His thought, "Hamlet, I am thy father's spirit doomed for a certain time to walk the earth" is a necessary preparation for the themes developed in "Scylla and Charybdis." Bloom's planned visit to Mina Purefoy takes place at the National Maternity Hospital in "Oxen of the Sun" and both Ben Howth and "Throwaway" recur in Bloom's thoughts indicating that the reader should take note. Additionally, the results of the horserace, featuring Sceptre and Throwaway, will contribute to the narrative climax of Ulysses.

Chapter Nine: Scylla and Charybdis


This afternoon chapter lasts for approximately an hour and a half and ends at 3pm. "Scylla and Charybdis takes place in the National Library and the shift in focus from Bloom to Stephen Dedalus marks Stephen's third appearance since "Proteus." Stephen has left the news office of "Aeolus" and after sending a message to Mulligan, he departed for the National Library rather than The Ship. It is unclear exactly what Stephen has been doing in the interim, though we do see that he is not alone in the library and Stephen sees that this casual company provides him with another opportunity to present himself as an intellectual thinker and budding literary genius.

Despite Stephen¹s continued efforts to impress the men in his company, he finds that his ploys are mostly frustrated. In contrast to Stephen's more receptive audience in "Aeolus," two of his library companions, Russell and Eglington, are men of literary stature who patronize Stephen's ideas about Shakespeare, ideas that he wedges between commentary on Irish politics and the difficult predicament of the young Irish literati. In his discussion of Shakespeare, Stephen aims to make use of his various critical skills without actually believing the arguments that he makes. Bloom is the first interruption of the narrative when we learn that he has arrived in search of the design the Keyes advertisement. Upon Bloom¹s arrival, the head Librarian briefly departs presumably, to help Bloom locate the design of the "Keys of Killarney."

Later, Mulligan arrives and continues his "tongue-in-cheek" mocking of Stephen and while Bloom and Stephen do not meet in this chapter, Bloom does pass between the two young men as he exits, separating them. By the end of "Scylla and Charybdis," Stephen is irked by the discussion of the Irish literary renaissance and he wonders if he will ever achieve literary success in Ireland as Mulligan, a sarcastic medical student, has been invited to attend a literary function with Haines, while he remains uninvited.


Midway through The Odyssey, Ulysses approaches Athena, the grey-eyed goddess of wisdom. His ship is headed for the wandering rocks whose erratic behavior is known to sink all ships crossing into that territory. Athena warns Ulysses to head instead for Scylla and Charybdis. Scylla is a six-headed cave creature known for devouring sailors and nearby Scylla is Charybdis, a formidable whirlpool that sinks ships. Ulysses is further warned to steer his ship between the narrow strait of water between the two titan menaces but if he is unable to steer a strait course, Ulysses is to veer towards Scylla, sacrificing six men rather than the entire ship. Ulysses is unable to steer a straight course and as a result he loses six men. It is worth noting that Joyce's tenth chapter parallels the Wandering Rocks even though Ulysses circumvents this obstacle.

The difficult lose-lose situation of Scylla and Charybdis is expressed in Stephen's thoughts on exile as opposed to remaining in Ireland. Stephen puns Ireland into "Sireland" and imagines it as a whirlpool that could sink him if he stays. Simultaneously, his skepticism parallels Scylla, the six-headed devourer. Stephen also admits to himself that Mulligan is a pernicious influence and this thoughts: "My will: his will that fronts me. Seas between," reconstructs the spatial imagery of Scylla and Charybdis right as Bloom passes between Dedalus and Mulligan.

"Scylla and Charybdis" presents Stephen at the height of erudition, his Shakespearean criticism colored by references to Dante's Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, diverse Greek myths as well as Shakespeare's biological details and a majority of his dramas. Like the seas between Scylla and Charybdis, this chapter is difficult to navigate. We learn that Stephen does not truly believe his convoluted theories and it is difficult to differentiate between his sincere emotional commentary and his thoughts on Shakespeare. Often times, they are intertwined.

The theme of exile and escape is prominent in Stephen's thoughts and comments and the response from the audience, that Stephen is choosing to "fly in the face of tradition," is an allusion to Stephen's namesakes, Dedalus and Icarus. Joyce also references Lucifer, the fallen angel and in some respects, Dedalus, Icarus and Lucifer are, like Ulysses, incapable of steering straight. From another angel, the rifts between Dedalus and Icarus, God and Lucifer and Ulysses and Athena are rifts between teacher and pupil. This rift is mirrored not only in Stephen's somewhat ambiguous search for paternity but in his philosophical dissent from Russell. Stephen also quotes a passage from Dante's Inferno. While Dante praises his instructor, Ser Brunetto, he has nonetheless inserted him in the Dantean scheme of hell. In contrast to the ambivalent paternal figures, "Allfather" and "Nobodaddy," Stephen hopes for a visit from an older "grey-eyed" muse, Athena. The call for Stephen to rouse Irish youth to "free their sireland" is rejected to the degree that Stephen distances himself from paternal love.

In "Scylla and Charybdis," Stephen presents a convoluted theory of "consubstantiality," condensed within his phrase: "He is in my father. I am in his son." Stephen's theory of Shakespeare's consubstantiality is essential for understanding the rest of the novel. Stephen makes the argument that Shakespeare's wife, an older woman, served as a maternal-like muse before she became unfaithful. As a result Shakespeare bequeathed her his second best bed. Stephen then argues that the Shakespearean tragedies (especially Hamlet) focus on Shakespeare's relationship with his unfaithful wife, dead infant son and dead father. Joyce has taken the theory of consubstantiality and presented it in a method that suggests parallels to the narrative of the novel. In the character of Ann Hathaway, we find the grey-eyed muse of Ulysses, sought by Stephen. But Hathaway is also the unfaithful Gertrude of Hamlet and the bed references link Hathaway to Joyce's Molly Bloom and Homer's Penelope. While Stephen is unaware of Bloom's private life, his scheme also establishes Bloom as the Shakespeare who wrote Hamlet, the prince of a dead father as well as the lost king whose wife is unfaithful.

Among Stephen's comments on romantic love between the sexes is his understatement: "People do not know how dangerous lovesongs can be." By the end of his analysis, Stephen's thoughts have returned to his own mother as he concludes the strongest human bond is amor matris, and not the love between a father and son, between a husband and wife or between brotherly friends.