Other essays and articles in the Literature Archives related to this topic include An Analysis of “Eveline” in The Dubliners by James Joyce

The emphasis on time and related concepts continues before the class comes to a conclusion. When the students ask Stephen to tell them a story, he indulges their request by responding with a riddle: “The cock crew,/The sky was blue:/The bells in heaven/Were striking eleven./’Tis time for this poor soul/To go to heaven” (22). The students say they do not hear the riddle and ask for Stephen to repeat the riddle, which he does. They do not attempt to solve the riddle, though “[t]heir eyes grew bigger as the lines were repeated” (22). One student, Cochrane, asks, “after a silence,” “What is it, sir? We give…up” (22). Stephen’s answer—“The fox burying his grandmother under a hollybush”—is even more cryptic than the riddle itself, and the students spill out of the classroom as they hear a rap on the door and the invitation to go outside and play hockey. Although the narrator does not indulge in any further meditation on the significance of the riddle, Stephen’s ponderings about time and its effect on him are not yet over. The school day provides still another opportunity for the theme to be repeated and explored from yet another angle.

After teaching his class, Stephen is approached by one of his students, Cyril Sargent, who stays behind to discuss a math problem that has stymied him while the other students eagerly leave to play hockey. Stephen observes to himself that Cyril Sargent is “ugly and futile,” with a “lean neck and thick hair and a stain of ink, a snail’s bed” (Joyce 23). The repulsion Stephen feels as he looks at Cyril, who is portrayed as a shy and fragile young boy, is palpable, and yet, Stephen begins to recognize that “someone had loved [Cyril], borne him in her arms and in her heart…. She had loved his weak watery blood drained from her own” (23). The realization gives Stephen pause, leading him to ask himself, “Was that [a mother’s love] then real? The only true thing in life?” (23). It is only after he asks himself these questions that Stephen admits he identifies with Cyril Sargent, though he does not demonstrate a total ability to empathize with the boy. “Like him was I,” Stephen thinks, with “sloping shoulders, this gracelessness…. Secrets, silent, stony sit in the dark palaces of both of our hearts” (Joyce 24).

The role time plays in this exchange between Stephen and his student is subtle, but it is vital to the development of the narrative and the psychological themes Joyce is exploring inUlysses. There is the suggested, but unarticulated, gulf of time that separates young Cyril from the older Stephen, who himself is separated by age from other figures in his life, such as the paternalistic and patronizing Mr. Deasy and even Leopold Bloom. There is also, however, the notion that Stephen has no time to reflect at length upon the rhetorical questions he asked himself as he looked upon Cyril. As soon as Stephen thinks about the similar secrets that their hearts harbor, the sum is declared done—much as the riddle was articulated and then abandoned– and Stephen quickly dismisses Cyril, saying “You had better get your [hockey] stick and go out to the others” (Joyce 24). From a psychoanalytic perspective, Stephen can not allow Cyril to remain at his side any longer, for to permit the student to do so would compel Stephen to ponder at length about his own ugliness, his secrets, his dissatisfaction, and his fears. The rapid dismissal of Cyril, along with Stephen’s condescending phrase, “It is very simple,” wards off uncomfortable thoughts, but permits the reader to intuit the thoughts and their importance to the overall development of the theme of Ulysses.

 Stephen does not have to wait long, however, before he is confronted with another experience that compels him to reflect upon the passage of time and the dissatisfaction that he feels with his own life and its seemingly constricted possibilities. After dismissing Cyril, Stephen proceeds to the office of Mr. Deasy, the school’s administrator, who will dispense Stephen’s payment to him. In terms of actual time and the narrative function that the transition between his classroom and Mr. Deasy’s office performs, the scene in Mr. Deasy’s office marks mid-day. Stephen has finished with his teaching responsibilities for the day, and once he is paid, he will, the reader thinks, proceed to The Ship, a pub where he has agreed to meet Buck at “half twelve” (Joyce 19).

Stephen appears to be deeply uncomfortable in Mr. Deasy’s presence, particularly because Mr. Deasy controls the length of their meeting, its content, and the narrative itself. “First, our little financial settlement,” Mr. Deasy says at the beginning of the meeting (Joyce 24), taking his time to gather Stephen’s wages from a mechanized savings box, an important symbol representing the technological and ideological advances of the modern age. Mr. Deasy seems to represent normative social and economic progress, and Stephen’s recognition of Mr. Deasy’s power and apparent self-satisfaction makes him feel uncomfortable. Stephen notes the setting: “The same room and hour” as previous encounters with Mr. Deasy, and, he adds, “I the same. Three times now…. [N]ooses round me here” (Joyce 25). Although Stephen thinks to himself that he could break the nooses “at will” (Joyce 25), he shows no signs of doing so.