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

Stephen accepts his wages with “shy haste” and is eager to leave, but he is restrained from doing so by Mr. Deasy, who prevails upon Stephen to convey an editorial he has written to Stephen’s acquaintances at a local newspaper. As Mr. Deasy begins to type out the last portion of his editorial, Stephen looks at the framed pictures on the wall, noticing “images of vanished horses” and the date, 1866, stamped on the photographs. The way in which the narrator conveys Stephen’s impressions of the photographs suggests that the images that are depicted represent a past that is much more distant than just 42 years, and the subsequent exchange in which Mr. Deasy and Stephen engage similarly underscore just how temporally disoriented Stephen feels, both with his elders and his contemporaries. Mr. Deasy, who holds predictably antiquated views of money, religion, and history, is shocked by Stephen’s utterance, “History… is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake” and his opinion that God is “a shout in the street” (Joyce 28). Mr. Deasy concludes that he is happier than Stephen, but what the reader concludes is something far more profound and relevant: the gap between Mr. Deasy and Stephen is not merely a chronological generation gap; it is an ideological, social, and psychological gap that Stephen and a certain group of his contemporaries felt just after the turn of century in Dublin.

Among those contemporaries in Ulysses is the character Leopold Bloom. Throughout the course of the novel, the narrator, narrative voice, and focus on specific characters will change; however, even as these transitions occur, the emphasis on establishing the time at which the narrated event is happening—both the actual time and the context within a larger historical framework– is never diminished. Leopold Bloom is preoccupied with many of the same philosophical musings about time and possibility that plague Stephen Dedalus’s thoughts. This fact is not immediately evident, however. As Part II opens and Leopold is introduced, the reader notices a dramatic change in the narrative voice. The details that are offered by the narrator regarding the setting are both more precise and more exquisite than was the case in Part I; furthermore, the way in which Leopold is described portrays him as an individual who appears to have a happier constitution than Stephen.

Leopold is introduced while he is preparing a breakfast tray for his wife. His attention to the precise arrangement of the tray and the significance of the simplest, most mundane movements are detailed by the narrator, conveying a sense that Leopold is a man who derives more pleasure from his life than Stephen. The time to which the description of Leopold is devoted seems to suggest—somewhat deceptively—that Leopold Bloom is a man whose relationship with time is healthier and more positive than Stephen Dedalus’s relationship with time. The narrator details the kinds of foods Leopold enjoys “with relish” (Joyce 45). He describes in rich detail Leopold’s recognition of the cat, which he “watched curiously [and] kindly” (Joyce 45). Leopold clearly enjoys the sight of the cat, which is described as “Clean to see” (Joyce 45). She is more than pleasing to the eye, though. Leopold recognizes that although other people call cats stupid, “They understand what we say better than we understand them,” and they have the capacity for a range and depth of emotions that some of the characters can not summon up (Joyce 45).

Time is established in Part II in much the same way as occurred in Part I. It is early morning on the same day, June 16, 1904, and again, it is not the time itself that is announced with the indication of an hour; instead, the narrator establishes the temporal setting by noting that “the sun was nearing the steeple of George’s church” (Joyce 46). The rising of the sun provokes a pleasant stream-of-consciousness reflection from Leopold, but the reader soon learns that Leopold is as preoccupied by the passage of time and his seeming dislocation within time’s larger panorama than he initially appears. Following a beautiful young woman in the street—“Pleasant to see first thing in the morning,” he thinks to himself—he is quickly reminded of his age by the “sting of [her] disregard” for him (Joyce 49). Just after this incident occurs, a cloud begins to obscure the sun, “slowly, wholly. Grey. Far” (Joyce 50). The change in weather precipitates Leopold’s depressing and almost obsessive litany about death, which ends with the depressing finale, “Dead: an old woman’s: the grey sunken cunt of the world,” a thought which “seared his flesh” (Joyce 50).

Leopold returns home, only to look upon his wife and “her bulk,” her breasts sagging “like a shegoat’s udder” (Joyce 52). Other details in the scene—yesterday’s incense, for example—mark the division of time but also hint at how the passage of time wears away at one’s pleasure and sense of what is possible. One way in which time has affected Leopold is the degree to which he feels passion and love for his wife. He seems to find her unattractive and even repulsive. Perhaps he derives meaning in his life from her dependence upon him; perhaps he is simply anesthetized by routine. Discerning why he feels as he does, however, is not as important as noting what he feels. When his wife asks him what the word “metempsychosis” means, he replies “that we live after death” (Joyce 53). The idea, he seems to suggest, is an attractive one, but living during life is challenging enough.