two women arm in arm

Weak joy opened his lips. Changed since the first letter. Wonder did she wrote it herself. Doing the indignant: a girl of good family like me, respectable character. Could meet one Sunday after the rosary. Thank you: not having any. Usual love scrimmage. Then running round corners. Bad as a row with Molly. Cigar has a cooling effect. Narcotic. Go further next time. Naughty boy: punish: afraid of words, of course. Brutal, why not? Try it anyhow. A bit at a time.

Fingering still the letter in his pocket he drew the pin out of it. Common pin, eh? He threw it on the road. Out of her clothes somewhere: pinned together. Queer the number of pins they always have. No roses without thorns.

Flat Dublin voices bawled in his head. Those two sluts that night in the Coombe, linked together in the rain.

     O, Mairy lost the pin of her drawers.
     She didn't know what to do
     To keep it up
     To keep it up.

It? Them. Such a bad headache. Has her roses probably. Or sitting all day typing. Eyefocus bad for stomach nerves. What perfume does your wife use. Now could you make out a thing like that?

     To keep it up.

Martha, Mary. I saw that picture somewhere I forget now old master or faked for money. He is sitting in their house, talking. Mysterious. Also the two sluts in the Coombe would listen.

     To keep it up.


The phrase weak joy opened his lips I believe refers to a half hearted smile, tinged with guilt. I love the subtle back and forth of the first paragraph as Bloom talks himself into and out of an “in the flesh” liaison with Martha. I’m interested in the phrase “Bad as a row with Molly” followed by “Cigar has a cooling effect”. I assumed, and at least the Cliff Notes agree with me that he feels that either the guilt or the awkwardness of an encounter with Martha would be as unpleasant for him as a argument with his wife, and thus he decides not to meet with her and let her “punish” him ( source ). Cliff Notes also pointed out that the imagery of cigar smoke is another lotus image. I assume his mind goes to the thought of smoking a cigar because he would need one after he was finished with Martha, particularly its “narcotic” nature. It’s funny that before he read the letter he had convinced himself he’d gone too far. I assume this means with his innuendo. However, he then he resolves to go further next time. I’m not sure if he wants to go farther because he wants to see how far it will go or if he’s trying to make her stop writing to him. I’m not sure Bloom actually knows the answer to that question.

Bloom also reveals once again his difficult relationship with women in general. He seems to see them all simultaneously as sluts and prudes. It is, as a rough concept, way ahead of its time as it would later be better defined by Freud as The Madonna-whore Complex ( wiki )