Chapter 6 Hades
Scene: The Graveyard
Hour: 11 AM
The Hades chapter of Ulysses corresponds (obviously) to Odysseus's descent into the underworld. Many of the symbols we see in that portion of Homer's Odyssey show up in this chapter.
The chapter begins with a carriage ride to Glasnevin Cemetery, on the outskirts of Dublin, featuring four characters: Martin Cunningham, Jack Powers, Simon Dedalus, and Leopold Bloom. Their arrangement in the carriage is not specified, but right away, Bloom is marked as an outsider in a subtle way: Martin Cunningham asks, while everyone is climbing into the carriage and when Bloom is conspicuously absent from the carriage, "Are we all here now? Come along, Bloom." This is the first chapter where we see Bloom interacting with other Dubliners, and the theme of Bloom as an ill-treated outsider will continue throughout the book (experiencing something of a culmination in Chapter 12, Cyclops, when Bloom is chased out of Barney Kiernan's and the chapter ends with a reference to the prophet Elijah's ascent into Heaven).
The carriage begins at the house of the deceased (Paddy Dignam) and is headed to the cemetery on the outskirts of town. The opening street scene, with an old woman "nose whiteflattened against the pane," is visually rich and contains many cross-references to folk tales, mythology, Irish funeral traditions, and Bloom's past. Soon after the carriage departs, Bloom spots Stephen - the first time both main characters have appeared together. Simon seems more interested in trashing Malachi (Buck) Mulligan, whom we met in the first chapter (Telemachus), than his son. In an ironic display of Irish contradictions, Dedalus simultaneously talks about what a sordid reputation Mulligan has and how everyone in Dublin knows it, while also saying that he will reveal Mulligan's true character and "tickle his catastrophe."
Simon Dedalus introduces several Shakespearean references. The first reference is "the wise child that knows her own father" (implying that Mulligan is a bastard who doesn't know who his father is, further repeated when Simon refers to Mulligan's "aunt, or mother, or whatever she is"). It's actually a dual inversion of the Shakespearean version, from The Merchant of Venice: "It is a wise father that knows his own child." Doubly inverted, both in the sentence structure and in the gender.
The second Shakespearean reference is "I'll tickle his catastrophe," also from The Merchant of Venice. It means, "I'll tickle his butt." (.........?)
Dedalus uses a wonderful sequence of no less than three strong adjectives to describe Mulligan: "That Mulligan is a contaminated bloody doubledyed ruffian by all accounts. His name stinks all over Dublin."
This leads Bloom's train of thought toward sons, and his own son, Rudy, who died 11 days after his birth. This leads him to think about Rudy's conception, in a particular passage that is both key and controversial:
"Must have been that morning in Raymond terrace she was at the window watching the two dogs at it by the wall of the cease to do evil. And the sergeant grinning up. She had that cream gown on with the rip she never stitched. Give us a touch, Poldy. God, I'm dying for it. How life begins."
In this passage, Bloom is guessing at the day of Rudy's conception. The Raymond terrace (where the Blooms had previously resided, different from their residence on the date of the novel) is across the street from a fort that was previously a prison (or, maybe vice-versa). The wall has a motto that says, "Cease to do evil... the Lord is near." That Molly Bloom is watching two copulating dogs beneath this motto, and getting horny watching them, is deliciously ironic. It was also very controversial, as it was unheard of to specifically mention womens' sexual desires, let alone to imply that a woman might get excited by the sight of copulating animals. The key phrase here is, "Give us a touch, Poldy." (Slang for sexual intercourse.)
Joyce made several modifications to this passage for the second printing of Ulysses.
There is some double entendre with the phrase "my son inside her" - every male's organ being a surrogate son, of sorts.
His thoughts have wandered from seeing Simon's son Stephen, to Simon's tirade about Malachi (Buck) Mulligan, to Simon's son, to his (Leopold's) own stillborn son, Rudy, to Molly and the day of Rudy's conception, and they wander on to Milly, and the young student she mentioned in her letter in Calypso (Ch. 4) - "Life, life." The cycle continues.
Martin Cunningham discovers crumbs on the seat, no doubt from a picnic. They're out of place and clash terribly with the mood of the occasion - and one of the many funny ways that the living poking fun at the dead just by, well, being alive, will appear in this chapter. The crumbs from bread are a symbol of life and nourishment, a fun occasion, a summer picnic in the country somewhere.
Martin Cunningham, first, poked his silkhatted head into the creaking carriage and, entering deftly, seated himself. Mr Power stepped in after him, curving his height with care.
All waited. Nothing was said. Stowing in the wreaths probably. I am sitting on something hard. Ah, that soap: in my hip pocket. Better shift it out of that. Wait for an opportunity.
All waited. Then wheels were heard from in front, turning: then nearer: then horses’ hoofs. A jolt. Their carriage began to move, creaking and swaying. Other hoofs and creaking wheels started behind. The blinds of the avenue passed and number nine with its craped knocker, door ajar. At walking pace.
They waited still, their knees jogging, till they had turned and were passing along the tramtracks. Tritonville road. Quicker. The wheels rattled rolling over the cobbled causeway and the crazy glasses shook rattling in the doorframes.
—What way is he taking us? Mr Power asked through both windows.
—Irishtown, Martin Cunningham said. Ringsend. Brunswick street.
Mr Dedalus nodded, looking out.
—That’s a fine old custom, he said. I am glad to see it has not died out.
All watched awhile through their windows caps and hats lifted by passers. Respect. The carriage swerved from the tramtrack to the smoother road past Watery lane. Mr Bloom at gaze saw a lithe young man, clad in mourning, a wide hat.
—There’s a friend of yours gone by, Dedalus, he said.
—Who is that?
—Your son and heir.
—Where is he? Mr Dedalus said, stretching over across.
The carriage, passing the open drains and mounds of rippedup roadway before the tenement houses, lurched round the corner and, swerving back to the tramtrack, rolled on noisily with chattering wheels. Mr Dedalus fell back, saying:
—Was that Mulligan cad with him? His fidus Achates!
—No, Mr Bloom said. He was alone.
—Down with his aunt Sally, I suppose, Mr Dedalus said, the Goulding faction, the drunken little costdrawer and Crissie, papa’s little lump of dung, the wise child that knows her own father.
—The weather is changing, he said quietly.
—A pity it did not keep up fine, Martin Cunningham said.
—Wanted for the country, Mr Power said. There’s the sun again coming out.
Mr Dedalus, peering through his glasses towards the veiled sun, hurled a mute curse at the sky.
—It’s as uncertain as a child’s bottom, he said.
The carriage turned again its stiff wheels and their trunks swayed gently. Martin Cunningham twirled more quickly the peak of his beard.
—Tom Kernan was immense last night, he said. And Paddy Leonard taking him off to his face.
—O, draw him out, Martin, Mr Power said eagerly. Wait till you hear him, Simon, on Ben Dollard’s singing of The Croppy Boy.
—Immense, Martin Cunningham said pompously. His singing of that simple ballad, Martin, is the most trenchant rendering I ever heard in the whole course of my experience.
—Trenchant, Mr Power said laughing. He’s dead nuts on that. And the retrospective arrangement.
—Did you read Dan Dawson’s speech? Martin Cunningham asked.
—I did not then, Mr Dedalus said. Where is it?
—In the paper this morning.
Mr Bloom took the paper from his inside pocket. That book I must change for her.
—No, no, Mr Dedalus said quickly. Later on please.
White horses with white frontlet plumes came round the Rotunda corner, galloping. A tiny coffin flashed by. In a hurry to bury. A mourning coach. Unmarried. Black for the married. Piebald for bachelors. Dun for a nun.
—Sad, Martin Cunningham said. A child.
A dwarf’s face, mauve and wrinkled like little Rudy’s was. Dwarf’s body, weak as putty, in a whitelined deal box. Burial friendly society pays. Penny a week for a sod of turf. Our. Little. Beggar. Baby. Meant nothing. Mistake of nature. If it’s healthy it’s from the mother. If not from the man. Better luck next time.
—Poor little thing, Mr Dedalus said. It’s well out of it.
The carriage climbed more slowly the hill of Rutland square. Rattle his bones. Over the stones. Only a pauper. Nobody owns.
—In the midst of life, Martin Cunningham said.
—But the worst of all, Mr Power said, is the man who takes his own life.
Martin Cunningham drew out his watch briskly, coughed and put it back.
—The greatest disgrace to have in the family, Mr Power added.
—Temporary insanity, of course, Martin Cunningham said decisively. We must take a charitable view of it.
—They say a man who does it is a coward, Mr Dedalus said.
—It is not for us to judge, Martin Cunningham said.
Mr Bloom, about to speak, closed his lips again. Martin Cunningham’s large eyes. Looking away now. Sympathetic human man he is. Intelligent. Like Shakespeare’s face. Always a good word to say. They have no mercy on that here or infanticide. Refuse christian burial. They used to drive a stake of wood through his heart in the grave. As if it wasn’t broken already. Yet sometimes they repent too late. Found in the riverbed clutching rushes. He looked at me. And that awful drunkard of a wife of his. Setting up house for her time after time and then pawning the furniture on him every Saturday almost. Leading him the life of the damned. Wear the heart out of a stone, that. Monday morning. Start afresh. Shoulder to the wheel. Lord, she must have looked a sight that night Dedalus told me he was in there. Drunk about the place and capering with Martin’s umbrella.
And they call me the jewel of Asia, Of Asia, The geisha.
He looked away from me. He knows. Rattle his bones.
Bom! Upset. A coffin bumped out on to the road. Burst open. Paddy Dignam shot out and rolling over stiff in the dust in a brown habit too large for him. Red face: grey now. Mouth fallen open. Asking what’s up now. Quite right to close it. Looks horrid open. Then the insides decompose quickly. Much better to close up all the orifices. Yes, also. With wax. The sphincter loose. Seal up all.
The felly harshed against the curbstone: stopped. Martin Cunningham put out his arm and, wrenching back the handle, shoved the door open with his knee. He stepped out. Mr Power and Mr Dedalus followed.
Change that soap now. Mr Bloom’s hand unbuttoned his hip pocket swiftly and transferred the paperstuck soap to his inner handkerchief pocket. He stepped out of the carriage, replacing the newspaper his other hand still held.
The priest took a stick with a knob at the end of it out of the boy’s bucket and shook it over the coffin. Then he walked to the other end and shook it again. Then he came back and put it back in the bucket. As you were before you rested. It’s all written down: he has to do it.
—They tell the story, he said, that two drunks came out here one foggy evening to look for the grave of a friend of theirs. They asked for Mulcahy from the Coombe and were told where he was buried. After traipsing about in the fog they found the grave sure enough. One of the drunks spelt out the name: Terence Mulcahy. The other drunk was blinking up at a statue of Our Saviour the widow had got put up.
The caretaker blinked up at one of the sepulchres they passed. He resumed:
—And, after blinking up at the sacred figure, Not a bloody bit like the man, says he. That’s not Mulcahy, says he, whoever done it.
Rewarded by smiles he fell back and spoke with Corny Kelleher, accepting the dockets given him, turning them over and scanning them as he walked.
I daresay the soil would be quite fat with corpsemanure, bones, flesh, nails. Charnelhouses. Dreadful. Turning green and pink decomposing. Rot quick in damp earth. The lean old ones tougher. Then a kind of a tallowy kind of a cheesy. Then begin to get black, black treacle oozing out of them. Then dried up. Deathmoths. Of course the cells or whatever they are go on living. Changing about. Live for ever practically. Nothing to feed on feed on themselves.
But they must breed a devil of a lot of maggots. Soil must be simply swirling with them. Your head it simply swurls. Those pretty little seaside gurls.
The gravediggers took up their spades and flung heavy clods of clay in on the coffin. Mr Bloom turned away his face. And if he was alive all the time? Whew! By jingo, that would be awful! No, no: he is dead, of course. Of course he is dead. Monday he died. They ought to have some law to pierce the heart and make sure or an electric clock or a telephone in the coffin and some kind of a canvas airhole. Flag of distress. Three days. Rather long to keep them in summer. Just as well to get shut of them as soon as you are sure there’s no.
—And tell us, Hynes said, do you know that fellow in the, fellow was over there in the...
He looked around.
—Macintosh. Yes, I saw him, Mr Bloom said. Where is he now?
—M’Intosh, Hynes said scribbling. I don’t know who he is. Is that his name?
He moved away, looking about him.
—No, Mr Bloom began, turning and stopping. I say, Hynes!
Didn’t hear. What? Where has he disappeared to? Not a sign. Well of all the. Has anybody here seen? Kay ee double ell. Become invisible. Good Lord, what became of him?
A seventh gravedigger came beside Mr Bloom to take up an idle spade.
—O, excuse me!
He stepped aside nimbly.
Clay, brown, damp, began to be seen in the hole. It rose. Nearly over.
Rtststr! A rattle of pebbles. Wait. Stop!
He looked down intently into a stone crypt. Some animal. Wait. There he goes.
An obese grey rat toddled along the side of the crypt, moving the pebbles. An old stager: greatgrandfather: he knows the ropes. The grey alive crushed itself in under the plinth, wriggled itself in under it. Good hidingplace for treasure.
Got a dinge in the side of his hat. Carriage probably.
—Excuse me, sir, Mr Bloom said beside them.
—Your hat is a little crushed, Mr Bloom said pointing.
John Henry Menton stared at him for an instant without moving.
—There, Martin Cunningham helped, pointing also.
John Henry Menton took off his hat, bulged out the dinge and smoothed the nap with care on his coatsleeve. He clapped the hat on his head again.
—It’s all right now, Martin Cunningham said.
John Henry Menton jerked his head down in acknowledgment.
—Thank you, he said shortly.
They walked on towards the gates. Mr Bloom, chapfallen, drew behind a few paces so as not to overhear. Martin laying down the law. Martin could wind a sappyhead like that round his little finger, without his seeing it.
Oyster eyes. Never mind. Be sorry after perhaps when it dawns on him. Get the pull over him that way.
Thank you. How grand we are this morning!
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Ulyssesby James Joyce
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