Once he’s done getting his sudsy on, Bloom heads for the funeral of his friend Dignam, where he meets up with a crew of mourners that includes the father of Stephen Dedalus. We get a few references to boatmen and death by water and Bloom wonders if it would be easier to convey bodies to the cemetery via a canal instead of hearses. All of this is of course a reference to the boatman that carries the dead to Hades, and not really a surprise to anyone who gets the reference. We also get a choice description of what old Dignam must look like in his present state as Bloom imagines with grim humor what might happen if the hearse tipped over.
Bom! Upset! A coffin bumped out on to the road. Burst open. Paddy Dignam shot out and rolling over stiff in the dust in a brown habit too large for him. Red face: grey now. Mouth fallen open. Asking what’s up now. Quite right to close it.
Obviously the fascination with the dead and the undead is somewhat universal.
We hear the party talk about a few more dead people; murders and suspected murders and a suicide. Bloom ponders the fate of a widow in his own inimitable fashion.
“Condole with her. Your terrible loss. I hope you’ll soon follow him. For Hindu widows only. She would marry another. Him? No. Yet who knows after. Widowhood not the thing since the old queen died.”
Obviously being a widow is not as fashionable as it was since Queen Victoria. But for a book that would not pass the feminist test (outlined below) there are a lot of references to women in the story.
1. Does the story have more than one named female character? Answer: Yes.
2. Do two female characters talk to each other? Answer: Thus far, No.
3. Do the two female characters talk to each other about anything other than a man (or shopping)? Answer: No
So much of this is Bloom’s obsession with his wife and with women in general. For someone who is worried about getting cheated on, Bloom spends a great deal of time thinking about cheating. He can’t even go to a funeral without thinking about how to pick up a dead guy’s widow. Even here, in an all-male scene, Bloom is thinking about women and the role they play (or endure) in death. You could argue that the book says a lot about how men perceive women and how women can shape (and in Bloom’s case dominate) a man’s character.