From charlesreid1

Wandering Rocks explores the stream of consciousness narrative technique with other characters, following a priest, a shop woman, a bar maid, and other folks on the streets of Dublin.

Chapter 10 Wandering Rocks

Gilbert Schema

Scene: The Streets

Hour: 3 PM

Organ: Blood

Symbol: Citizens

Art: Mechanics

Technic: Labyrinth

Odyssey Parallels

Wandering Rocks is not an episode from Homer's Odyssey - it's the path that was not taken. As such, it represents a path not traveled. For a portion of this chapter, Joyce is following characters other than Stephen D and L Bloom, as if to explore various paths not taken for the narrator of Ulysses.

Major Themes

The Path Not Traveled

One of the themes of the chapter is the path not traveled - the wandering rocks, the labyrinth. Those make Father Conmee, a Jesuit priest, a curious choice.

The priest, Father John Conmee, contrasts with Bloom's character. Bloom is a Freemason, a Jew, a freethinker, and a science-minded person, while the priest is a Jesuit, a clergyman, and an institutionalist. But there is a similarity in the pace of their narrative - slow, steady, deliberately wandering, exploring the world with the senses as the narrative goes.

The priest is also an interesting contrast to the other main character, Stephen Dedalus, who is Catholic, and "under the influence of the Church," but is also a freethinker who contrasts with the priest. Father Conmee's stream of consciousness is very grounded, very earthly, and he is preoccupied with thoughts about the people around him, their suffering and salvation, and various theological topics. I imagine this is what a stream of consciousness for Jesus would have been like. Compared to the dense intellectual interior monologue of Stephen in Proteus (Chapter 3), Conmee's narrative more closely resembles Bloom's more sensual, covering-the-entire-map mental wanderings from Chapters 4, 6, and 8).

A veteran sailor, a beggar, walks about Dublin asking for alms. Father Conmee only gives him a blessing. While Conmee's thoughts don't dwell for long on the beggar, the beggar does set off an entire train of thought in Conmee. The beggar also makes appearances with other characters throughout the chapter, and the spoken lines are sometimes echoed out of context. This gives the impression that the reader themselves are being followed around by the beggar as they read the chapter, wandering around Dublin.


Parts of the chapter, particularly the opening (the way it repeats "Father John Conmee" or "Father Conmee" again and again), are reminiscent of a litany or a prayer - they have a circular or parallel structure; certain phrases show up repeatedly. (There's that word again - parallel - see Ulysses/Words/Parallax).

Salutes and Gestures

The chapter, particular Conmee's stroll, is filled with various wordless gestures of deference and politeness: tips of the cap, smiles, nods, etc.


The opening monologue following Father Conmee is notable for a number of reasons - first, it's the first extended stream of consciousness we've seen from a character other than Leopold and Stephen. Second, it repeats the name "Father Conmee" over and over again - like a litany, or an invocation, or a prayer. While it is similar to prior chapters in its narration technique (stream of consciousness), it's also very different in its narration style - it's more objective, descriptive, and grounded than Stephen or Leopold. His thoughts wander down shorter paths - mental culs-de-sac.

Conmee also seems to experience a daydream, or hallucination, while on the tram: "Father Comnee at the altarrails placed the host with difficulty into the mouth of the awkward old man who had the shaky head."

Blazes Boylan also makes an appearance for a scene, another nod to the path not traveled. Bloom was rushing to avoid seeing Boylan on the street at the end of Ulysses/Lestrygonians (Ch. 8). Bloom doesn't consciously think of Boylan by name, he just pretends to be frantically searching his pockets for something - but it's Boylan he's trying to avoid by looking busy. Boylan was also spotted (thanks to his distinct straw hat) on the way to the cemetery in Ulysses/Hades, and of course he sent a letter to Molly that turned up in Ulysses/Lotus Eaters. So far, these types of indirect interactions are the only types of encounters Bloom has had with Boylan, and the reader has only met Boylan from afar.

In Ulysses/The Wandering Rocks, the reader gets their first up-close encounter with Blazes Boylan, as he buys fruits and flowers in a shop.

Heightening the contrast between Boylan and Dedalus, the scene prior to that features Stephen Dedalus's young sisters trying to scrape together enough food scraps for a meal.


Part 1: The superior

The superior, the very reverend John Conmee S. J. reset his smooth watch in his interior pocket as he came down the presbytery steps. Five to three. Just nice time to walk to Artane. What was that boy’s name again? Dignam, yes. Vere dignum et iustum est.

S. J. = Society of Jesuits

Vere dignum et iustum est. Latin for "It is truly fitting and just." Dignam --> dignum.

He walked by the treeshade of sunnywinking leaves: and towards him came the wife of Mr David Sheehy M.P.

Lots of acronyms in this chapter.

Father Conmee walked down Great Charles street and glanced at the shutup free church on his left. The reverend T. R. Greene B.A. will (D.V.) speak.

Father Conmee passed H. J. O’Neill’s funeral establishment where Corny Kelleher totted figures in the daybook while he chewed a blade of hay.

Part 2: It was a peaceful

Corny Kelleher closed his long daybook and glanced with his drooping eye at a pine coffinlid sentried in a corner.

The "drooping eye" is a reference to Hamlet - King Claudius is talking about marrying his dead brother's wife, his sister-in-law-turned-Queen. He talks about "one auspicious and one drooping eye"

(Edit: never mind, I thought it was "drooping eye" but it's actually "dropping eye". Weird.)

Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,

Th’ imperial jointress to this warlike state,

Have we (as ’twere with a defeated joy,

With an auspicious and a dropping eye,

With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,

In equal scale weighing delight and dole)

Taken to wife.

- Hamlet Act 1 Scene 2

Father John Conmee stepped into the Dollymount tram on Newcomen bridge.

Corny Kelleher locked his largefooted boots and gazed, his hat downtilted, chewing his blade of hay.

Constable 57C, on his beat, stood to pass the time of day.

—That’s a fine day, Mr Kelleher.

—Ay, Corny Kelleher said.

—It’s very close, the constable said.

Corny Kelleher sped a silent jet of hayjuice arching from his mouth while a generous white arm from a window in Eccles street flung forth a coin.

—What’s the best news? he asked.

—I seen that particular party last evening, the constable said with bated breath.

The constable is talking about the beggar. The "chewing his blade of hay" phrase is repeated.

A onelegged sailor crutched himself round MacConnell's corner, skirting Rabaiotti's icecream car, and jerked himself up Eccles street. Towards Larry O'Rourke, in shirtsleeves in his doorway, he growled unamiably: - For England... He swung himself forward past Katey and Boody Dedalus, halted and growled: - home and beauty.

The beggar provides quite the contrast to an image on p. 226:

A plump bare generous arm shone, was seen, held forth from a white petticoatbodice and taut shiftstraps. A woman's hand flung forth a coin over the area railings. It fell on the path.

One of the urchins ran up to it, picked it up and dropped it into the minstrel's cap, saying:

- There, sir.

Part 3: Katey and Boody

A skiff, a crumpled throwaway, Elijah is coming, rode lightly down the Liffey, under Loopline bridge, shooting the rapids where water chafed around the bridgepiers, sailing eastward past hulls and anchorchains, between the Customhouse old dock and George’s quay.

he blond girl in Thornton’s bedded the wicker basket with rustling fibre. Blazes Boylan handed her the bottle swathed in pink tissue paper and a small jar.

—Put these in first, will you? he said.

—Yes, sir, the blond girl said. And the fruit on top.

—That’ll do, game ball, Blazes Boylan said.

She bestowed fat pears neatly, head by tail, and among them ripe shamefaced peaches.

Blazes Boylan walked here and there in new tan shoes about the fruitsmelling shop, lifting fruits, young juicy crinkled and plump red tomatoes, sniffing smells.

—Ma! Almidano Artifoni said.

He gazed over Stephen’s shoulder at Goldsmith’s knobby poll.

Two carfuls of tourists passed slowly, their women sitting fore, gripping the handrests. Palefaces. Men’s arms frankly round their stunted forms. They looked from Trinity to the blind columned porch of the bank of Ireland where pigeons roocoocooed.

Part 4: Miss Dunne hid

Miss Dunne hid the Capel street library copy of The Woman in White far back in her drawer and rolled a sheet of gaudy notepaper into her typewriter.

Too much mystery business in it. Is he in love with that one, Marion? Change it and get another by Mary Cecil Haye.

The disk shot down the groove, wobbled a while, ceased and ogled them: six.

Miss Dunne clicked on the keyboard:

—16 June 1904.

The old bank of Ireland was over the way till the time of the union and the original jews’ temple was here too before they built their synagogue over in Adelaide road.

A flushed young man came from a gap of a hedge and after him came a young woman with wild nodding daisies in her hand. The young man raised his hat abruptly: the young woman abruptly bent and with slow care detached from her light skirt a clinging twig.

Father Conmee blessed both gravely and turned a thin page of his breviary. Sin: Principes persecuti sunt me gratis: et a verbis tuis formidavit cor meum.

"flushed young man" and a twig clinging to the skirt both give the reader a clue that these two were necking and rolling around in the grass before they appeared through a gap in the hedge.

One can only imagine their sudden surprise at seeing a priest right after coming through the hedge. (Is there a trope for this - seeing a cop immediately after a crime?) Father Conmee is like an Irish morality cop, out walking his beat.

This Latin phrase seems to be from Psalm 119 verse 161:

  • NIV translation: "Sin: Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart trembles at your word"
  • KJV translation: "Sin: Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word."

—God! he cried. I forgot to tell him that one about the earl of Kildare after he set fire to Cashel cathedral. You know that one? I’m bloody sorry I didit (sic), says he, but I declare to God I thought the archbishop was inside. He mightn’t like it, though. What? God, I’ll tell him anyhow. That was the great earl, the Fitzgerald Mor. Hot members they were all of them, the Geraldines.

The young woman with slow care detached from her light skirt a clinging twig.

That sentence makes another appearance; this time, isolated from the rest of the context, it sounds like a Pangram, or a sentence with peculiar alliterative properties.

The horses he passed started nervously under their slack harness. He slapped a piebald haunch quivering near him and cried:

—Woa, sonny!

He turned to J. J. O’Molloy and asked:

—Well, Jack. What is it? What’s the trouble? Wait awhile. Hold hard.

With gaping mouth and head far back he stood still and, after an instant, sneezed loudly.

—Chow! he said. Blast you!

—The dust from those sacks, J. J. O’Molloy said politely.

—No, Ned Lambert gasped, I caught a... cold night before... blast your soul... night before last... and there was a hell of a lot of draught...

He held his handkerchief ready for the coming...

—I was... Glasnevin this morning... poor little... what do you call him... Chow!... Mother of Moses!

Part 5: Tom Rochford took

Lawyers of the past, haughty, pleading, beheld pass from the consolidated taxing office to Nisi Prius court Richie Goulding carrying the costbag of Goulding, Collis and Ward and heard rustling from the admiralty division of king’s bench to the court of appeal an elderly female with false teeth smiling incredulously and a black silk skirt of great amplitude.

—See? he said. See now the last one I put in is over here: Turns Over. The impact. Leverage, see?

He showed them the rising column of disks on the right.

—Smart idea, Nosey Flynn said, snuffling. So a fellow coming in late can see what turn is on and what turns are over.

—See? Tom Rochford said.

He slid in a disk for himself: and watched it shoot, wobble, ogle, stop: four. Turn Now On.

It's not clear what they're looking at here, some kind of device. Perhaps a record player? Something for accounting?

While he waited in Temple bar M’Coy dodged a banana peel with gentle pushes of his toe from the path to the gutter. Fellow might damn easy get a nasty fall there coming along tight in the dark.

A hat tip to slapstick, maybe?

They went up the steps and under Merchants’ arch. A darkbacked figure scanned books on the hawker’s cart.

—There he is, Lenehan said.

—Wonder what he is buying, M’Coy said, glancing behind.

The "darkbbacked figure" here is Leopold Bloom, and once he makes an appearance, it gets the two men talking about Bloom, and it quickly delves into salacious gossip and a dirty story about Bloom's wife.

—I was tucking the rug under her and settling her boa all the time. Know what I mean?

His hands moulded ample curves of air. He shut his eyes tight in delight, his body shrinking, and blew a sweet chirp from his lips.

—The lad stood to attention anyhow, he said with a sigh. She’s a gamey mare and no mistake.

Part 6: Mr Bloom turned

Mr Bloom turned over idly pages of The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, then of Aristotle’s Masterpiece. Crooked botched print. Plates: infants cuddled in a ball in bloodred wombs like livers of slaughtered cows. Lots of them like that at this moment all over the world. All butting with their skulls to get out of it. Child born every minute somewhere. Mrs Purefoy.

The opening sentence is a callback to a couple of other prior passages -

Mr Bloom turned his largelidded eyes with unhasty friendliness.

(Chapter 5)

Mr Bloom turned and saw the liveried porter raise his lettered cap as a stately figure entered between the newsboards of the Weekly Freeman and National Press and the Freeman’s Journal and National Press.

(Chapter 7)

Mr Bloom turned at Gray’s confectioner’s window of unbought tarts and passed the reverend Thomas Connellan’s bookstore.

(Chapter 8)

The shopman let two volumes fall on the counter.

—Them are two good ones, he said.

Onions of his breath came across the counter out of his ruined mouth. He bent to make a bundle of the other books, hugged them against his unbuttoned waistcoat and bore them off behind the dingy curtain.

This is a really gross description, and it isn't the last of this chapter. Bloom is left alone, so he starts to thumb through some books, and comes across a dirty book.

Fair Tyrants by James Lovebirch. Know the kind that is. Had it? Yes.

He opened it. Thought so.

A woman’s voice behind the dingy curtain. Listen: The man.

No: she wouldn’t like that much. Got her it once.

He read the other title: Sweets of Sin. More in her line. Let us see.

"More in her line" suggests he probably buys dirty books, reads them, and then passes them on to his wife, or reads hers when she's done reading them.

Mr Bloom read again: The beautiful woman.

Warmth showered gently over him, cowing his flesh. Flesh yielded ​amid rumpled clothes. Whites of eyes swooning up. His nostrils arched themselves for prey. Melting breast ointments (for him! For Raoul!) Armpits’ oniony sweat. Fishgluey slime (her heaving embonpoint!). Feel! Press! Crished! Sulphur dung of lions!

This is like a preview of the behavior to come in Ulysses/Nausicaa and the scene on the beach. Basically he's standing in a dingy, dirty bookstore having dirty daydreams with a dirty book.

Phlegmy coughs shook the air of the bookshop, bulging out the dingy curtains. The shopman’s uncombed grey head came out and his unshaven reddened face, coughing. He raked his throat rudely, spat phlegm on the floor. He put his boot on what he had spat, wiping his sole along it and bent, showing a rawskinned crown, scantily haired.

So disgusting. Such a dirty place.

Mr Bloom beheld it.

Mastering his troubled breath, he said:

—I’ll take this one.

The shopman lifted eyes bleared with old rheum.

—Sweets of Sin, he said, tapping on it. That’s a good one.

Of course - the Dirty Fellowship.

Part 7: The lacquey by the door

Mr Dedalus, tugging a long moustache, came round from Williams’s row. He halted near his daughter.

—It’s time for you, she said.

—Stand up straight for the love of the Lord Jesus, Mr Dedalus said. Are you trying to imitate your uncle John the cornetplayer, head upon shoulders? Melancholy God!

Dilly shrugged her shoulders. Mr Dedalus placed his hands on them and held them back.

—Stand up straight, girl, he said. You’ll get curvature of the spine. Do you know what you look like?

He let his head sink suddenly down and forward, hunching his shoulders and dropping his underjaw.

—I know you did, Dilly answered. Were you in the Scotch house now?

—I was not then, Mr Dedalus said, smiling. Was it the little nuns taught you to be so saucy? Here.

He handed her a shilling.

—See if you can do anything with that, he said.

—You got more than that, father, Dilly said.

—I’m going to show you a little trick, Mr Dedalus said. I’ll leave you all where Jesus left the jews. Look, that’s all I have. I got two shillings from Jack Power and I spent twopence for a shave for the funeral.

Mr Dedalus amid the din walked off, murmuring to himself with a pursing mincing mouth:

—The little nuns! Nice little things! O, sure they wouldn’t do anything! O, sure they wouldn’t really! Is it little sister Monica!

Part 8: Stephen Dedalus watched

She is drowning. Agenbite. Save her. Agenbite. All against us. She will drown me with her, eyes and hair. Lank coils of seaweed hair around me, my heart, my soul. Salt green death.

Agenbite of inwit. Inwit’s agenbite.


Part 9: Hello, Simon

Ben Dollard’s loose blue cutaway and square hat above large slops crossed the quay in full gait from the metal bridge. He came towards them at an amble, scratching actively behind his coattails.

As he came near Mr Dedalus greeted:

—Hold that fellow with the bad trousers.

Mr Dedalus eyed with cold wandering scorn various points of Ben Dollard’s figure. Then, turning to Father Cowley with a nod, he muttered sneeringly:

—That’s a pretty garment, isn’t it, for a summer’s day?

—Why, God eternally curse your soul, Ben Dollard growled furiously, I threw out more clothes in my time than you ever saw.

—And how is that basso profondo, Benjamin? Father Cowley asked.

Cashel Boyle O’Connor Fitzmaurice Tisdall Farrell, murmuring, glassyeyed, strode past the Kildare street club.

Ben Dollard frowned and, making suddenly a chanter’s mouth, gave forth a deep note.

—You can tell Barabbas from me, Ben Dollard said, that he can put that writ where Jacko put the nuts.

"Barabbas" is referring to Reuben J - the same Reuben J mentioned in the story from the carriage in Ulysses/Hades Chapter 6. (Martin Cunningham and Mr Power also make re-appearances.)

(Why "Martin Cunningham" and "Mr Power" and not "Mr Cunningham" or "Jack Power"?)

Part 10: The youngster will be all right

Part 11: As they trod across

Haines opened his newbought book.

—I’m sorry, he said. Shakespeare is the happy huntingground of all minds that have lost their balance.

The onelegged sailor growled at the area of 14 Nelson street:

—England expects...

Buck Mulligan’s primrose waistcoat shook gaily to his laughter.

The beggar makes another appearance, in the middle of an unrelated scene.

He sank two lumps of sugar deftly longwise through the whipped cream. Buck Mulligan slit a steaming scone in two and plastered butter over its smoking pith. He bit off a soft piece hungrily.

He tasted a spoonful from the creamy cone of his cup.

—This is real Irish cream I take it, he said with forbearance. I don’t want to be imposed on.

Elijah, skiff, light crumpled throwaway, sailed eastward by flanks of ships and trawlers, amid an archipelago of corks, beyond new Wapping street past Benson’s ferry, and by the threemasted schooner Rosevean from Bridgwater with bricks.

The first bit here is a callback to the opening of Ulysses/Lestrygonians Chapter 8, when he sees "Elijah is coming" on a poster while walking, and then the name Elijah bubbles up again when he throws a crumpled paper ball into the river and watches the gulls go after it like it's food:

He threw down among them a crumpled paper ball. Elijah thirtytwo feet per sec is com. Not a bit. The ball bobbed unheeded on the wake of swells, floated under by the bridgepiers.

- Chapter 8

The "Elijah" reference happens just a few paragraphs before this, but the original thirtywo feet per second per second reference is from Ulysses/Lotus Eaters Chapter 5:

What is weight really when you say the weight? Thirtytwo feet per second per second. Law of falling bodies: per second per second. They all fall to the ground. The earth. It’s the force of gravity of the earth is the weight.

- Chapter 5

Also see Ulysses/Words/Elijah and Ulysses/Words/Thirty Two Feet Per

Almidano Artifoni walked past Holles street, past Sewell’s yard. Behind him Cashel Boyle O’Connor Fitzmaurice Tisdall Farrell, with stickumbrelladustcoat dangling, shunned the lamp before Mr Law Smith’s house and, crossing, walked along Merrion square. Distantly behind him a blind stripling tapped his way by the wall of College park.

Holles Street is the location of the hospital where Dixon (the doctor) works and where Mina Purefoy is laid up after (before?) giving birth. We also have a convergence of multiple characters we've seen previously - Cashel (C.B.O.F.T.F. in Ulysses/Lestrygonians Chapter 8 while Bloom is talking to Mrs. Breen), the blind stripling (also from Ulysses/Lestrygonians Chapter 8, Bloom helps him across the road), and Almidano Artifoni (from earlier in this chapter).

Cashel Boyle O’Connor Fitzmaurice Tisdall Farrell walked as far as Mr Lewis Werner’s cheerful windows, then turned and strode back along Merrion square, his stickumbrelladustcoat dangling.

At the corner of Wilde’s house he halted, frowned at Elijah’s name announced on the Metropolitan hall, frowned at the distant pleasance of duke’s lawn. His eyeglass flashed frowning in the sun. With ratsteeth bared he muttered:

Coactus volui.

He strode on for Clare street, grinding his fierce word.

As he strode past Mr Bloom’s dental windows the sway of his dustcoat brushed rudely from its angle a slender tapping cane and swept onwards, having buffeted a thewless body. The blind stripling turned his sickly face after the striding form.

—God’s curse on you, he said sourly, whoever you are! You’re blinder nor I am, you bitch’s bastard!

This is a cryptic scene. Coactus volui is Latin for "Having been forced, I was willing." The full meaning of this is probably "Although I was forced, this does not alter the fact that I was willing." It isn't clear why he is looking at "the distant pleasance of the duke's lawn" when he says this. He also sees Elijah's name on the poster at Metropolitan hall, likely the same poster Bloom saw at the opening of Ulysses/Lestrygonians Chapter 8.

Part 12: William Humble

From its sluice in Wood quay wall under Tom Devan’s office Poddle river hung out in fealty a tongue of liquid sewage.

Above the crossblind of the Ormond hotel, gold by bronze, Miss Kennedy’s head by Miss Douce’s head watched and admired. On Ormond quay Mr Simon Dedalus, steering his way from the greenhouse for the subsheriff’s office, stood still in midstreet and brought his hat low.

Joyce spends the closing paragraphs of this chapter (Chapter 10) lining up the characters that will appear in Ulysses/Sirens Chapter 11. Miss Kennedy, Miss Douce, and Mr Dedalus will all make appearances at the Ormond hotel.

Gerty MacDowell, carrying the Catesby’s cork lino letters for her father who was laid up, knew by the style it was the lord and lady lieutenant but she couldn’t see what Her Excellency had on because the tram and Spring’s big yellow furniture van had to stop in front of her on account of its being the lord lieutenant.

We will see Gerty again in Ulysses/Nausicaa Chapter 13, in the infamous fireworks episode. This chapter shifts from minor character to minor character, wandering through Dublin in the process, and here again we see a character that is familiar, or will become familiar.

Blazes Boylan presented to the leaders’ skyblue frontlets and high action a skyblue tie, a widebrimmed straw hat at a rakish angle and a suit of indigo serge. His hands in his jacket pockets forgot to salute but he offered to the three ladies the bold admiration of his eyes and the red flower between his lips.

So far, every time we've seen Boylan anywhere, it's been sunny, he's been in the sunlight, or in a light, colorful fruitsmelling shop, and here again we see him wearing skyblue clothing. Now we see him putting to use the colorful flowers he picked up earlier in the chapter.

Contrast that with the way Bloom is portrayed as always being dark or in the shadows - he is in the shade when he sees Boylan, and earlier in the chapter he was described as "a darkbacked figure" scanning books.


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