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MonkeyNotes-Ulysses by James Joyce
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The chapter contains a powerful symbol, namely the stick carried by Stephen. Plainly stick implies creative power. In the first chapter it is described as Stephenís "familiar" or attendant spirit. The stick there trails impotently down the path. Entering Nighttown Stephen flourishes an ash plant stick, which Lynch calls "yellow". "Take up your crutch and walk", says he. He advises Stephen to become the artist he pretends to be. Idle no more, stick puts out Bellaís light. It destroys the old before creating the new. Stephen breaks the chandelier lamp at Bella Cohenís. His stick almost becomes a symbol of his pilgrimage to creativity and self-awareness. This chapter provides the reader with answers to many questions raised earlier in the novel. Stephen and Bloom come together. We see fully revealed the barrenness of Bloomís marriage. The perversities that have been hinted at earlier fall naturally into place in the encyclopedic record of his daydreams. Earlier comments on Freemasonry are confirmed here. Bloom is clearly a member of the order. For the first time in Ulysses, we sense the crucial force of Stephenís theological cast of mind and the despair of his personal and family situations. We see in this chapter the destructive power of Dublin. It is dreadful in its slums and eaten away by English influence.


Incidents in this chapter seem solemn enough, but there is an immense variety of sheer fun in the episode. Out of the sordid setting and the painful insights into perverse humanity, Joyce has developed an extraordinarily vivacious comedy. The outrageous juxtaposition of characters and incidents, the rapid shifts of style, the precise observation of human foibles and the verbal wit combine to create a very funny effect.

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