And so we come at last to Mr. Bloom.
Of course if it were Orlando serving up breakfast in bed for a lady, maybe it wouldn’t seem so sad and pathetic. Our Mr. Bloom seems to be saddled with a very demanding and somewhat spoiled spouse.
Bloom takes a moment to run down to the butchers to grab himself a pork kidney (see what I did there? Pork?) and oggle the neighbor’s daughter along the way. It seems that our hero has a taste for the forbidden in more ways than one.
It’s interesting to see how Joyce segues into his stream of consciousness. At the beginning of the section he begins with a description of Bloom’s appetites:
And before you know it we’re reading his mind. Bloom’s thoughts run from food to his wife to the mail to his daughter and to myriad topics in between. There is definitely something pathetic about Bloom…in his appetites and his sad desires.
Attending to his wife, we see the disarray of their bedroom, including some soiled underthings. It’s a pretty unattractive scene, made even worse with Molly’s evasiveness about a letter she receives. Bloom is obviously concerned about what his diva wife is going to do when he steps out, but he feels helpless to do anything about it. So he does what any henpecked middle aged man does: he eats his kidney breakfast and has a dump.
There’s a level of gritty realism in Joyce’s story. Everything about Bloom’s life is dirty, from his wife’s discarded clothing to the faintly urine smell of his food (again with the pee) to his “me” time in the outhouse. All of it combines to create a pretty sorry excuse for a man, somebody who lives in a pretty disgusting world and occasionally does some pretty disgusting things, but who is also worthy of our sympathy.