Penelope: Thoughts and Questions

1) Joyce called "Penelope" the "indispensable countersign to Bloom's passport to eternity" (see Comments by Joyce). This would mean that both this episode and "Ithaca" make up the ending of Ulysses.

2) In The Odyssey Penelope held off her suitors by telling them she would choose one of them when she finished weaving a burial robe for Odysseus's father, and then unraveling each night what she wove during the day. Does Penelope's strategy find an equivalent in Joyce's episode?

3) Joyce described the episode as being like the earth spinning (see Comments by Joyce), and Molly's monologue keeps circling around and around various topics. For example, follow her many uses of "yes" in the episode, and especially her uses of both "no" and "yes" in the last of the episode's eight "sentences" (18:1368-1609; pp. 638-44).

4) Or follow her use of "he"--especially the many times where the pronoun might refer to more than one particular man.

5) The episode's style--eight long paragraphs without any punctuation (except for two periods)--is both famous and notorious. Do you consider it to be successful? Why or why not?

6) Joyce never visited Gibraltar, and his depiction of Molly's memories of growing up there is built up entirely from guidebooks and other printed sources. It is the only time he tried to describe in detail a place he had never seen.

7) Notice how many times Molly's thoughts support information that we already have from Bloom, but also how many times her perspective contradicts his. And sometimes she does both.

8) Molly has always been a controversial character. In the early days some readers were horrified at such a fully sexualized female character. More recently, readers and critics have paid more attention to how Joyce presented his one fully realized female character, especially in comparison with his presentation of the many male characters in the book.

9) The last words of Ulysses are famous, but what is Molly saying "yes" to? In what tone of voice is she saying "yes I said yes I will Yes"?