Leopold Bloom waiting in the post office

He turned away and sauntered across the road. How did she walk with her sausages? Like that something. As he walked he took the folded Freeman from his sidepocket, unfolded it, rolled it lengthwise in a baton and tapped it at each sauntering step against his trouserleg. Careless air: just drop in to see. Per second per second. Per second for every second it means. From the curbstone he darted a keen glance through the door of the postoffice. Too late box. Post here. No-one. In.

He handed the card through the brass grill.

—Are there any letters for me? he asked.

While the postmistress searched a pigeonhole he gazed at the recruiting poster with soldiers of all arms on parade: and held the tip of his baton against his nostrils, smelling freshprinted rag paper. No answer probably. Went too far last time.

The postmistress handed him back through the grill his card with a letter. He thanked her and glanced rapidly at the typed envelope.

Henry Flower Esq, c/o P. O. Westland Row, City.


Bloom ponders how she walks with her sausages. I’m not exactly sure but I imagine that’s the lady who he was admiring earlier in the butcher shop.Mr Bloom stands in line behind a woman This is a perfect example of why people say the novel is really hard to follow. If you aren’t paying very close attention and reading slowly it would be easy to pass over that particular line, but when you realize that the heft of the novel is what is going on inside the character’s mind you’re challenged to take the time to think a moment and figure it out, and you also gain an appreciation for Joyce’s ability to capture and write in the way a person’s mind thinks.

I looked up the “Freeman” and discovered it’s The Freeman’s Journal, a nationalist newspaper in Ireland. (source) I also found out from the wiki article that Bloom works selling ads for the Freeman. Which I imagine adds to his frustration at people being published writers. He basically walks through an office of published writers every day for work. I read ahead a few paragraphs to see if there was any mention of him working for them yet and couldn’t find any. I didn’t investigate too deeply as I don’t really want to have the whole story revealed before I read it. I like that he also keeps pondering the meaning of “per second per second” when I googled it I found that almost every result was someone asking what it means or explaining what it means. After looking it up, gravity will accelerate any object at a rate of 32 feet per second, per second. (source) So it’s the rate of acceleration of gravity, but I can imagine how the meaning of a phrase like that could distract someone in the days before the internet. 

I like the image of him reading the army poster while the postwoman looks for his mail. I looked up photo’s of the post office in Dublin,General_Post_Office_Dublin_20060803 but all the images were of the General Post office which doesn’t really correspond with where he is in the city. So I assume it’s a small local post.