Episode 10: Wandering Rocks
As the anxiety of navigating “Scylla and Charybdis” dissipates, Joyce offers “Wandering Rocks” as an interlude to mark the midway point in the novel (if not by pages, at least by episodes). Written as 18 mini-episodes (plus a concluding coda) that occur across the city of Dublin between 2:55 and 4:00 pm, “Wandering Rocks” is often referred to as Ulysses in miniature. Indeed, the episode’s interlocking parts and painstaking attention to time and place inspires much the same awe and appreciation the reader feels for the novel as a whole.
The schema lists “mechanics” as the art for this episode, and we can think of each of the 18 sections as a gear in the Dublin machine. Short scenes or occurrences in one section might reappear (or pre-appear) in other sections of the episode divorced from space (but not time) in a device called interpolation. Think of these interpolations as teeth from one gear momentarily interlocking with another gear in the turning Dublin machine.
An example: at the end of the first section, Father Conmee encounters a blushing young couple emerging from a hedge (ahem), and the “young woman abruptly bent and with slow care detached from her light skirt a clinging twig” (10.201-02). Later, this scene reappears in the episode’s eighth section as an interpolation:
He stood to read the card in his hand.
- The reverend Hugh C. Love, Rathcoffey. Present address: Saint Michael’s, Sallins. Nice young chap he is. He’s writing a book about the Fitzgeralds he told me. He’s well up in history, faith.
The young woman with slow care detached from her light skirt a clinging twig.
- I thought you were at a new gunpowder plot, J. J. O’Molloy said.
Ned Lambert cracked his fingers in the air.
- God! he cried. I forgot to tell him that one about the earl of Kildare after he set fire to Cashel Cathedral. (10.436-445)
While the linked moments in Sections 1 and 8 occur nearly 5 miles apart, the occurrence of the woman bending to tidy her skirt happens at this exact moment in time in both sections. The Arranger, the omniscient architect of the novel whose voice will emerge and gain prominence in the second half of the book, sees everything and knows how it all fits together. To further link these moments, Father Conmee (in Section 1) has just remembered the clouds over Rathcoffey, north of Clongowes Wood College where he served as Rector; Ned Lambert (in Section 8) reads the card just given to him by Hugh C. Love, a priest/historian from Rathcoffey. The interpolations in “Wandering Rocks” represent the most overt instance to this point of the Arranger rearing his head in the text. (See the Voices in the Text page on this website for further explanation of The Arranger)
As you read “Wandering Rocks,” you can imagine the omniscient Arranger peering over the entire city in panorama, already knowing everything that will happen in the hour ahead, and in turns zooming into the space (and sometimes into the consciousness) of various Dubliners. Even while zoomed in, the Arranger uses the interpolations to demonstrate that he is aware of simultaneous events taking place elsewhere in the city.
For a visualization of the spacio-temporal relationships between the characters in this episode, check out this website from Moacir P. de Sá Pereira at NYU.
Now that we have some appreciation for the mechanics of the episode, I’ll offer some guidance through the mini-episodes themselves. If you are interested in delving deeper into the astounding arrangement, mapping, and minute-by-minute events of “Wandering Rocks,” check out Ian Gunn and Clive Hart’s excellent book James Joyce’s Dublin: A Topographical Guide to the Dublin of Ulysses and/or Clive Hart’s essay and charts in James Joyce’s Ulysses: Critical Essays.
Section 1: Father Conmee
The first section of “Wandering Rocks” follows Father John Conmee, known to readers of A Portrait as the rector of Clongowes Wood College to whom young Stephen appealed for help after Father Dolan unjustly punished him. Father Conmee moves easily through the world, self-assured and “mild” (10.188).
In the opening paragraph, we have an instance of parallax as Conmee thinks about Martin Cunningham’s letter requesting help in securing a school place for the late Paddy Dignam’s son; later in the episode (Section 15), we will hear Cunningham reference this letter and his efforts on behalf of the Dignams; later still (Section 18), we will see young Patrick Dignam himself. But in this moment here, Conmee shrewdly recognizes that Martin Cunningham can be “useful at mission time” (10.6), so he puts assisting the Dignam boy on his mental to-do list.
Conmee then encounters on his walk a panhandling amputee sailor (whom he blesses), a well-to-do wife of a politician (whom he lauds with friendly politeness), three boys who are students at Belvedere (whom he dispatches to mail a letter for him), a flamboyant dancing master named Denis Maginni, and the upright pawn-shop owner Mrs. M’Guinness (whom he salutes).
Similar to Bloom’s idea back in “Hades,” Conmee notes the need for a tramline. He is a man of the world as much as of the cloth. As he continues, he salutes and is saluted by boys, men (sober and otherwise), and a policeman. He passes by a bargeman (who we saw in the “Hades” episode) working the Royal Canal and then boards a tram to avoid walking through an unpleasant neighborhood. Aboard the tram, Conmee perceives his fellow passengers with his characteristic patronizing interest.
Father Conmee notices an advertisement posted in the tram for a minstrel show, which prompts him to think of missionary work and the unfortunately doomed souls of people living in corners of the earth to which Christianity had not yet spread. As he leaves the tram, he is saluted by its conductor and salutes in return. (Father Conmee seems to love a good exchange of salutes.)
Now in Malahide Road, Father Conmee’s mind lingers in an idealized past where men of his ilk were truly honored, where priests of his esteem harbored in secret knowledge of the sins of the aristocratic elite. His attention returns to the present long enough to observe the fleecy clouds above, which sends his mind into a reverie of his time as rector of Clongowes Wood College - walking in the fields near the playing students, reading his daily prayers, and watching the clouds over Rathcoffey to the north.
Back again in the here and now, Father Conmee takes out his book of prayers and catches up on his daily office before being interrupted by the emergence of two young lovers from a hedge. Father Conmee blesses them even as he judges them as sinners.
Section 2: Corny Kelleher
Back in section 1, 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” (10.97-98). Now, in Section 2, we join Corny Kelleher a few minutes later. He is still chewing his blade of hay, and he is closing his daybook after having entered his figures. He moseys over to the doorway and looks out on the street.
The text then tells us that “Father John Conmee stepped into the Dollymount Tram on Newcomen bridge” (10.213), and we might be tempted to assume that this event, appearing out of the narrative sequence, is an interpolation. But, no! This is a trick, one of many such wandering rocks that Joyce has laid in the waters of this episode to bring us down. When you look at the map, you notice that Corny Kelleher could easily have perceived Father Conmee on Newcomen bridge from the doorway of O’Neill’s.
A constable of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, an arm of British colonial rule, checks in with Corny Kelleher. In their short snippet of conversation, we confirm that Kelleher is indeed an informant against Irish revolutionaries, as other Dubliners have previously suspected.
Section 3: The Onelegged Sailor
A handicapped veteran of the British Navy, also seen (and blessed) by Father Conmee in Section 1, grumpily lurches through the streets of north Dublin, grunting a patriotic song and begging for money. A woman on the street offers a penny. Children gawk. Molly Bloom’s disembodied “pump bare generous arm” tosses down a coin from her room on the 2nd floor of 7 Eccles Street. We see that the Blooms are advertising “Unfurnished Apartments” for rent in their home; since Milly has moved out to Mullingar to study photography, they have an extra room.
Section 4: The Dedalus Sisters
In the Dedalus home (address unspecified to suggest the family’s fluctuance and instability, but perhaps 7 St. Peter’s Terrace, Cabra (the Joyce family home in June 1904)) Katey and Boody return home from school and join Maggy, who is cleaning shirts in a pot of boiling, sudsy water. Stephen’s younger sisters reveal the level of the Dedalus family’s destitution; they have unsuccessfully attempted to pawn Stephen’s books at M’Guinness’s shop (recall that Conmee saluted stately Mrs. M’Guinness in Section 1), and they only have something to eat thanks to charity. Dilly, another Dedalus sister, has gone downtown to find Simon; Boody, at the mention of her father, curses him: “our father who art not in heaven” (10.291).
At this same time elsewhere in the city, Father Conmee is reading the “Our Father” in his prayer book - be mindful of these sorts of ironic echoes throughout the episode.
The section closes with a glimpse of the hand-out Mr. Bloom tossed into the Liffey back in “Lestrygonians” as it wanders its own way through the city by water. (N.b., some scholars suggest that this flyer is actually a different one from that which Bloom threw away...they cite tidal patterns and other such influences. I love Joyceans.)
Section 5: Blazes Boylan
We’ve caught flashes of Blazes Boylan earlier in the novel, but this section represents our most intimate view of the slick seducer. He is shopping in Thornton’s fruit and flower shop on Grafton Street, purchasing a basket to be delivered to Molly prior to his arrival later in the afternoon. Dapper and sensuous, Boylan helps the young female attendant arrange the items in the basket and smell-browses the other fruits in the shop. In an application of the Uncle Charles Principle, the language of the narration acquires the tastes of Boylan in this section: “shamefaced peaches” (10.306), “plump red tomatoes” (10.308), “fat pears” (10.305, 333) and “blushing peaches” (10.333) in particular stand out as relevant to this character’s mind on this day.
As Boylan asks for the basket to be delivered immediately, we have an interpolation of “a darkbacked figure” (10.315) perusing used books; this is Mr. Bloom fulfilling a commitment to Molly (to get her a new book) even as her lover is preparing to violate the most essential of the Blooms’ marital commitments.
In the second half of the short time we spend with Boylan, we see him lie (“It’s for an invilid” (10.322)) and letch (“Blazes Boylan looked into the cut of her blouse” (10.327)). He speaks “gallantly” (10.329) and “roguishly” (10.336) to the young woman, and she seems charmed by him.
While we are predisposed to dislike Boylan out of a sense of protectiveness over Mr. Bloom, we must admit that the man has charisma.
Section 6: Stephen and Artifoni
At the center of town, Stephen encounters his Italian voice instructor, Almidano Artifoni, who expresses fatherly concern for his wayward pupil, saying (in Italian) “I, too, was convinced the world was a place of beastliness and sin when I was young. But your voice...it could be a source of income for you. Instead, you sacrifice yourself.”
“Bloodless sacrifice,” Stephen replies with the shy smile of a favored student.
“Let’s hope so,” Artifoni responds. He then says something to the effect of “but listen, be straight with me, think about it.” Stephen replies that he will think about it. The two men shake hands warmly, and Artifoni invites Stephen to come see him, and they exchange tender farewells. Then Artifoni realizes that this conversation has caused him to miss his tram.
Section 7: Miss Dunne
Blazes Boylan’s secretary, Miss Dunne, sits in her office. She has been reading a romance novel while the boss (Boylan) is out, but she inserts a piece of paper into the typewriter and types out the date. It is important to note that this brief moment in the novel is the only direct revelation of June 16, 1904 as the day on which Ulysses is set.
The five Hely’s sandwich-board men (H-E-L-Y’S), seen previously by Boylan in the fruit shop, are seen again here.
Miss Dunne thinks about her evening plans, a man who has caught her attention, a skirt she wants, and then hopes Boylan won’t hold her in the office too late. Then the phone rings - it is the call Boylan was about to make at the end of Section 5. We hear her side of the conversation with her boss. She receives his directions to book travel for two to Belfast and Liverpool (for Molly and himself during the upcoming concert tour), and he gives her permission to leave work at 6:15 (more or less a win for Miss Dunne). Then, she informs Boylan that Lenehan has been looking for him and will be at the Ormond Hotel Bar at 4:00. (we will see Boylan, Lenehan, and other notable characters convene at the Ormond in the next episode, “Sirens”)
Section 8: Ned Lambert, Reverend Love, and J. J. O’Molloy
The eighth section takes place in the remaining room of a 10th century abbey which now serves as a seed and grain warehouse where Ned Lambert (seen earlier at Dignam’s funeral in “Hades” and in the newspaper offices in “Aeolus”) now works. J. J. O’Molloy enters the dark room to find Ned showing the building to a priest named Hugh C. Love who is writing a book about the Fitzgeralds. St. Mary’s abbey is relevant to Love’s research because Lord Thomas Fitzgerald (Silken Thomas), who led an unsuccessful revolution against the English in 1534, as Ned tells us, “proclaimed himself a rebel” (10.408-09) here.
In this section, the Arranger includes two interpolations. First, “From a long face a beard and gaze hung on a chessboard” (10.425) - this is John Howard Parnell, brother to the politician Charles Stuart Parnell. We will see this man at his chessboard more fully in Section 16. Second, we see again the young woman from Section 1 emerging from the bushes.
Reverend Love exchanges niceties with Ned Lambert before departing. Lambert, who himself seems to know quite a bit of history, explains to J. J. O’Molloy about the priest. J. J. O’Molloy is there to ask Ned Lambert for money. Bloom noted back in “Aeolus” that O’Molloy is a “mighthavebeen” lawyer with a gambling problem (7.303), and towards the end of that episode Myles Crawford denies J.J.’s request for a loan. Here, Ned Lambert seems to anticipate why O’Molloy has come calling, as he says, “Well, Jack. What is it? What’s the trouble?” (10.454) before sneezing.
Section 9: Tom Rochford’s Invention, then Lenehan and M’Coy
Tom Rochford, speaking to Nosey Flynn, Lenehan, and M’Coy, introduces and explains his invention for displaying which musical act is currently on stage during a program involving multiple performers. Lenehan, who we know is planning to meet Blazes Boylan in the Ormond at 4:00, pledges to pitch Rochford’s invention to the music concert producer.
M’Coy and Lenehan leave together, and Lenehan tells M’Coy the story of Tom Rochford’s heroism in saving a man who had fallen down a manhole. Lenehan pops into Lynam’s to find out the final odds on Sceptre, the horse he backed in the Ascot Gold Cup. While waiting in the street, M’Coy uses his foot to sweep a banana peel from the street into the gutter, and we have access to his inner monologue, which reveals his concern for the wellbeing of others.
We then have our first of three interpolations: first, in Phoenix Park, the viceregal cavalcade begins its journey across the city; elsewhere, young Patrick Dignam leaves a butchers shop; up north, Molly replaces the Unfurnished Apartments card that fell in Section 3. We might be tempted to think that the sight of Bloom, the “darkbacked figure scann[ing] books” (10.520-21), is an interpolation, especially since the same description appears as an interpolation back in Section 5, but no: M’Coy and Lenehan actually see Bloom perusing books.
But before that, Lenehan returns from Lynam’s to note that Sceptre is running at even money. He also reports that he saw Bantam Lyons on the verge of placing a wager on Throwaway (the horse Bloom unwittingly tipped back at the end of “Lotus-Eaters”), but Lenehan dissuades Lyons from making that bet. In a moment of serendipity, Lenehan and M’Coy see Bloom just as they are discussing his unintentional tip.
The men discuss Bloom and his knack for finding bargains...while they base this assertion on an astronomy book he purchased at well below value, we have to wonder if they are influenced by stereotypes here.
Lenehan then launches out on a story about the Glencree dinner: after a night of music, heavy drinking, and rich foods, Lenehan sat beside Molly in a carriage. He describes her as bouncing up against him, and he claims to have gotten handsy with her ample body while Bloom looks out the window, pointing out constellations to Chris Callinan (another friend in the carriage). Telling this story leaves Lenehan gasping in laughter.
M’Coy, a married man himself, “grew grave” (10.578) in silent rebuke of Lenehan’s tale of infidelity. Lenehan gets the hint, changes his tack, and compliments Mr. Bloom.
Section 10: Mr. Bloom
Like bumping into a dear friend you haven’t seen in a while, we rejoin Bloom in Section 10 as he shops for a book for Molly. Always thinking of others, his thoughts turn to Mrs. Purefoy who has been in labor for three days. The bookseller brings a few options for Mr. Bloom to consider, and Bloom notes the scent of onions on his breath. Lovely.
After an interpolation featuring the dancing instructor Denis Maginni, Mr. Bloom peruses a few books and evaluates their suitedness to Molly’s erotic tastes. Thinking Sweets of Sin looks promising, he opens it at random to a few different pages and reads to himself, gets aroused, and decides it’s a winner.
After an interpolation showing the Viceregal Cavalcade, the bookseller returns, hocks a loogey on the floor (yuck), and approves of Bloom’s selection. Overall, pretty creepy. Perhaps we might have hoped for a more warm and wholesome reunion with Mr. Bloom...
Section 11: Dilly and Simon Dedalus
Dilly seems to have been waiting on her father all afternoon. You might recall that Mr. Bloom, back at the outset of “Lestrygonians,” spotted Dilly Dedelus outside of Dillon’s auctionrooms on Bachelor’s Walk; furthermore, he notes that she is “still” (8.28) there, implying that he saw her when he popped down there looking for Mr. Keyes during the “Aeolus” episode. Thus, Dilly has been here since just after 12 noon, and now, around 3:30, she finally meets her father.
Simon, as we know, has been drinking with the newspapermen in The Oval, just up O’Connell Street and around the corner from Dillon’s. Defensive, he immediately rebukes Dilly for her posture. Undeterred, Dilly presses her father for money. He gives her a shilling, and Dilly correctly supposes he got more than that and continues to press him. Simon blasphemes and curses his daughters as “an insolent pack of little bitches since [their] poor mother died” (10.682).
In an example of how “Wandering Rocks” (and, really, all of Ulysses) expects the reader to have read it before reading it, this section contains the lacquey ringing his bell “barang!” which appeared as an interpolation back in Section 4 (10.281-82) in the midst of Katey, Boody, and Maggy Dedalus’s conversation about Simon, Dilly, and the Dedalus family’s destitution. By drawing our attention back to that scene, the Arranger provokes indignation on behalf of the family Simon has failed. Still, he is a colorful and charismatic man; he wins a grin from Dilly when he offers to look along the gutters of Dublin for spare change.
Section 12: Tom Kernan
Mr. Kernan, who we saw at the funeral earlier in the day (and in the Dubliners story “Grace”), has just left a pub where he enjoyed a “thimbleful” (10.724) of gin as an afternoon pick-me-up. The prose of this section provides closer and more sustained access to Kernan’s inner monologue than seen in other sections of “Wandering Rocks” - it actually feels like we have a similar proximity to Kernan’s thoughts as we do to Bloom’s in, say, “Lotus Eaters.” Now, why do you think that may be?
Kernan mentally replays the conversation he’s just shared with Mr. Crimmins, the publican, about the ship accident in New York City. He sneaks in a bit of anti-Americanism before taking a moment to admire his own attire - he bought a fancy coat secondhand at roughly 25% of its estimated original cost, reminding us that we are dealing with characters squarely in the middle-class.
We have interpolations of a conversation between Simon Dedalus and a priest, then (again) the water-bound journey of the YMCA flyer Bloom tossed into the Liffey back in “Lestrygonians,” and later Josie and Dennis Breen in his continued pursuit of legal action over the U.P: up postcard.
Kernan mistakes a man in a car for Ned Lambert’s brother, recalls political violence, and then drops one of the novel’s seven usages of the phrase “retrospective arrangement” (10.783), the phrase from which we take the concept of the Arranger. At the end of the section, Kernan, a West Briton (an anglophilic Irishman), just misses the opportunity to see the Lord Governor process by in the Viceregal Cavalcade, and he is disappointed at his near miss.
Section 13: Stephen and Dilly Dedalus
Another thread to the Dedalus family web woven in “Wandering Rocks,” Section 13 begins with Stephen alone, thinking abstrusely as he peers through shop windows. He stops at a book cart, wondering if perhaps one of his old books might have been pawned there by his younger siblings and examining a book on “how to win a woman’s love” (10.847).
Dilly surprises Stephen, who sheepishly closes and tries to hide the cheesy love book. Dilly has just spent half of the two pence Simon gave her for a snack back in Section 11 on a book to learn French.
Stephen recognizes that his sister is “drowning” and wrestles with the guilt he feels for abandoning his family, reprising the “agenbite of inwit” (10.879) (remorse of conscience) he earlier ascribed to the English in their guilt over their treatment of the Irish. However, he knows that should he try to save Dilly and his other siblings, he would only be assured of drowning with them. Stephen’s silent call of “Misery! Misery!” (10.880) is truly haunting.
Section 14: Simon Dedalus, Fr. Bob Cowley, and Ben Dollard
Right on the heels of the heartbreaking scene between Stephen and Dilly Dedalus, we see their father greeting Father Cowley, who explains that he owes money to Reuben J. Dodd (seen and cursed by the men in the funeral carriage back in “Hades”) and that Dodd has staked two men at Cowley’s home to collect the debt. Cowley has asked a friend, Ben Dollard, to ask “long John” Fanning, a subsheriff, to intervene. Just then, Ben Dollard approaches and exchanges banter with Simon and Cowley. Dollard has been to see John Henry Menton (a busy man this day!) for legal advice on Cowley’s situation. Apparently, Cowley also owes rent to his landlord (who happens to be Reverend Love, seen in Section 8), thus giving Love the prior claim over Dodd’s. So, while clearly not in great financial shape, Cowley at least has the legal grounds on which to get Dodd off his back.
Section 15: Martin Cunningham, Mr. Power, and John Wyse Nolan
Martin Cunningham has been working to make financial and other arrangements on behalf of the Dignam family. He mentions that he has appealed to Father Conmee for assistance in placing one of the Dignam boys in school, and we know from Section 1 that Conmee intends to help.
Cunningham has also been fundraising to support the Dignams between now and when the insurance policy pays out (although Cunningham has work to do in securing that payout, as we will see later). John Wyse Nolan, looking at the ledger, notes that Bloom “put his name down for five shillings” (10.974), not an insignificant sum. Martin Cunningham adds that Bloom actually already gave the five shillings; there’s a big difference between pledging to give money at a graveside and actually ponying up. Bloom’s generosity is met with some measure of incredulity shaded with anti-Semitism.
We have an interpolation of Blazes Boylan stopping drunk Bob Doran for a word.
The men make their way and find long John Fanning, referenced in the previous section, and the men shoot the breeze about local social and political circles, then Cunningham turns their focus back to Dignam. Cunningham seems to be feeling Fanning out on his willingness to contribute to the fund, but Fanning apparently did not know Paddy Dignam. Then, the Viceregal Cavalcade passes by.
Section 16: Buck Mulligan and Haines
Buck Mulligan left the National Library with Stephen, but he has rejoined Haines for an afternoon snack at the Dublin Bread Co. (D. B. C.). As they enter the restaurant, Mulligan points out John Howard Parnell playing chess at another table. We saw Parnell in this scene in an interpolation back in Section 8.
Buck and Haines each order a melange (a drink like a cappuccino) as well as scones and cakes before turning their conversation to the topic of Stephen and his Hamlet lecture. Haines claims that “Shakespeare is the happy huntingground of all minds that have lost their balance” (10.1061-62). (We might be tempted to replace Shakespeare with Ulysses in that statement - anyone reading this thing must be a little nuts!) Buck makes fun of Stephen’s unbalanced gait when he’s drunk and proceeds to claim that the Jesuits made Stephen crazy with fear of Hell. If you’ve read Portrait, you might agree with Buck’s theory. Indeed, a secular artist might find little “joy” in the act of creation when s/he believes that the very act is defiant to God and therefore promising of damnation. Haines notes (interestingly, I must admit) that ancient Irish mythology lacks any notion of hell.
The food and drinks arrive as the two men ponder Stephen’s potential as an author. Buck suggests that Stephen will “write something in ten years” (10.1089-90). Joyce published Dubliners in June of 1914.
The section closes with our last glimpse of the “Elijah is coming” flyer’s odyssey; it has nearly made it to the bay, and we see it pass by the three-masted ship seen by Stephen at the end of “Proteus.”
Section 17: Cashel Boyle O’Connor Fitzmaurice Tisdall Farrell
Noted by Bloom as a curiosity in the “Lestrygonians” episode, Cashel Boyle O’Connor Fitzmaurice Tisdall Farrell flashes across Section 17 with frowns and profanity. He walks past Mr. Bloom’s dental offices (no relation), and brushes into the blind stripling’s cane (the same blind stripling Bloom helped cross that street at the end of “Lestrygonians”). He then curses the blind young man, accusing him of faking his blindness. Dude’s crazy.
Section 18: Patrick Dignam
Young Patrick Dignam has escaped the “dull” (10.1125), mournful atmosphere of his home to buy porksteaks. He stops to look at a poster advertising a boxing match (he’s clearly a fan of the sweet science), and then catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror. He notes that he is a bit disheveled in his black mourning clothes and does his best to tidy himself.
He sees dapper Blazes Boylan speaking with drunk Bob Doran (an interpolation back in Section 15) and then wonders if the other schoolboys on the street notice that he’s in mourning clothes. He continues with this puerile line of thought as he imagines his friends tonight seeing his and his father’s name in the newspaper. Patrick recalls the rather horrifying image from earlier in the day of a fly walking up his father’s dead, grey face toward the eyeball; he recalls the bumps of his father’s body in the coffin; he recalls his father’s most recent drunken behavior; and he recalls his father’s deathbed request that he “be a good son to ma” (10.1170-71). He tries to acclimate himself to the finality of his father’s death: “Pa is dead. My father is dead” (10.1170) and hopes that his father is in purgatory (and not in hell) because he went to confession just a few days before passing.
Section 19: The Viceregal Cavalcade
Joyce bookends “Wandering Rocks” with representatives of the church and state. In the first section, Father Conmee serves as a representative of the Roman Catholic Church. Here in the final section, the church is counterbalanced by a representation of British colonial rule, the Viceregal Cavalcade. As Conmee’s movement is largely south-north, the Viceregal Cavalcade processes from Phoenix Park in the west through to the east side of Dublin, thus forming something of a cross over the city.
In Section 19, we see a panoply of the novel’s characters as they all watch the procession cut through the city. I’ve heard or read somewhere that the wandering rocks referenced in The Odyssey actually represented the rocky straight of the Black Sea, and that the rocks seemed to move based on the tidal level. A bright student of mine once suggested that Section 19 represents low tide in the “Wandering Rocks” episode: all of the characters are visible. Among them: characters (mostly minor but some major) that we have encountered before, some that we have yet to meet in full, and the mysterious man in the brown macintosh.