So Bloom takes off to the post office where we find that he’s been doing the early 20th century equivalent of online cheating. Seems our guy has a fake id called “Henry Flower” and he’s been exchanging letters with some lady named Martha.
Bloom picks up his snail mail and worries a bit about whether his last one might have crossed the line. Apparently it didn’t, since the lady wrote back. For those of you not familiar with snail mail letters I will translate:
Got Ur last. TY. Sad U did not like mine. WTF with the stamps? I is pissed. U should get spanked :). U so nawty. BTW what is def’n of that word? R U not happy at home Mr. nawty pantz? Wish I could help. U think of me? I heart Ur name. We shud hook up cuz OMFG u r so hot! Feelz guilty tho. U write next tell me more. If U do notz I will haz to spank U nawty boi. Rlly wish we could meet. So write, k? Or I gets 😡 . Will write back. Head hurtz. Stopping now.
PS What perfume doz ur wife use?
Yeah, it’s actually that disjointed even written in full. At this point I’m really not sure what Bloom intends to do about this lady. He seems to be a bit torn about the idea of making a real connection. He seems excited and scared at the same time.
Later, Bloom tries to indulge in a bit of girl watching as he wanders about, but some guy named M’Coy keeps blocking his view. I’ve got to say that despite the challenge of interpreting Joyce’s prose style, he does get a lot of male motivations down pretty well. Do guys really think like that? Yeah, we kind of do. There’s nothing more annoying than having another guy try to talk to you when you are scoping out a lady’s…uh…ankle.
Bloom makes his way into a catholic church, where he watches mass and makes a few choice observations. He kind of reminds me of Stephen here, because like Stephen, Bloom is at heart an observer. Well, more like a voyeur. The interesting thing is that since Bloom is an outsider, he is more at liberty to critique the church than Stephen is. I can’t help but wondering if Joyce is using Bloom as a way of expressing his conflict with the church, although admittedly Bloom’s critique is much more reserved.
Squarehead chaps those must be in Rome: they work the whole show. And don’t they rake in the money too?…The doctors of the church: they mapped out the whole theory of it.
Bloom’s outsider voice is capable of pointing out the politics and practicalities of the church without dwelling on the mysticism. Unlike Stephen, he has no childhood investment in the church and is therefore immune to the subconscious pull of its theology.
It’s interesting that we can still relate to Bloom’s situation even though the time and the language used can make things difficult on occasion. Bloom as a character is understandable if you can read his inner motivations through the cloud of Joyce’s writing style. Like Shakespeare, it’s easy to understand once you get over the language.