A strange figure appears while Bloom is talking to Mrs. Breen:
A bony form strode along the cubstone from the river staring with a rapt gaze into the sunlight through a heavystringed glass. Tight as a skullpiece a tiny hat gripped his head. From his arm a folded dustcoat, a stick and an umbrella dangled to his stride.
Bloom shadows this guy for a little ways, apparently considering him to be a bit nutty. This is one of those things that makes a reader kind of wonder what the heck is going on. There’s really no explanation within the text unless one is willing to dig a bit and find out what the scholars say about this scene. To me this is another mystery figure like the stranger at the funeral. Heck, it may actually be the guy at the funeral, but there’s really no evidence to support that. I suppose that’s why readers get so frustrated with the text. You have to go through it all and then look stuff up to find out what’s really going on. It’s very hard to read without secondary sources.
Bloom continues his wandering and thinking, and yet another woman enters his thoughts.
Lady Mountcashel has quite recovered after her confinement and rode out with the Ward Union staghounds at the enlargement yesterday at Rathoath. Uneatable fox. Pothunters too. Fear injects juices make it tender enough for them. Riding astride. Sit her horse like a man.
There is definitely a preoccupation with childbirth in this section. Bloom has been criticizing the pain that women go through during childbirth, but then he takes a minute to admire a lady who “recovers from her confinement” to go fox hunting. So now we have this image of a huntress, much like Artemis, or a proud lady who seems to overcome discomfort and assume manly characteristics.
Very different from Molly or from the other ladies that have appeared thus far. I wonder if that’s deliberate.