Friday, January 07, 2011

Ulysses, chapter two

This will be quick because I didn't get much sleep last night and I want to go to bed.  So Chapter Two starts off with no transition-- we are in a classroom, and Stephen is teaching spoiled, wealthy boys about Pyrrhus, the Greek king who won battles while sustaining such heavy losses that the term Pyrrhic victory comes from his name.  Stephen isn't exactly paying attention, and neither are the boys.  In between his questions and theirs, his mind wanders on all kinds of topics, sometimes coming back to his mother's death.  One boy starts to recite Milton's poem Lycidas, but instead of doing it from memory, he is cheating so blatantly that Stephen calls him on it, but he doesn't seem very mad.  The boys leave to play hockey.  Before they go Stephen asks them a riddle, which no one (including the reader) really understands.

Stephen stays behind with one of them who needs help on his math homework.  He isn't a particularly appealing kid, but Stephen helps himself be patient by imagining the kid's mom and the positive quality of mother love.  Then Stephen goes to Mr. Deasy's office, who is him employer.  Mr. Deasy pays him and Stephen must sit and listen as he lectures him on how to live within his means, how the jews are responsible for the downfall of england, how women are responsible for original sin, etc.  Then Mr. Deasy makes him sit and wait while he finishes a letter to the editor about cattle diseases that he wants published in newspapers-- Stephen knows some of the editors.  So Stephen says he will see what he can do.

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