Episode 2

Stephen is asking questions in the classroom. One student knows the date of the battle but not the place. Another student Armstrong is more interested in eating biscuits under the desk then the importance of Pyrrhus in the history of the Greeks. He guesses that Pyrrhus might be a pier and everyone laughs. Stephen reflects on his lack of discipline and the fees being paid for these students to attend this private school. He envies the knowledge inherent in some of the faces. Armstrong completely oblivious of any knowledge about Pyrrhus guesses the word might mean pier and everyone laughs. He fumbles for an explanation and Stephen thinks it would make a clever anecdote to include in Haines’s collection. He knows it would be very easy to impress him but he dismisses the futility of such praise.

Stephen thinks of how people are immune to history as tales too often heard and of the infinite possibilities that never come to pass. He juggles thoughts about only the possibilities actually realized being possible in the first place. He ignores the student Talbot cheating from a book hidden by his satchel and absorbs himself in Aristotle’s theory about the factual and the possible. He remembers his nights in Paris spent at the Saint Genevieve Library reading Aristotle with a Siamese man next to him studying a book on strategy. All around him were brains, seeking wisdom, under the glow of the desk lamps but the darkness of his own mind was wary of moving into the light.

The repetition from Talbot stirs him out of his reverie on the form of the soul and he tells him to turn the page so he can finish the lesson. The weave of the riddle threads the loom of the church. Stephen decides to tell the students a riddle. They are full of excited guesses as they pack up and make a rowdy exit to go and play hockey.

Sergeant, a scrawny student, stays behind to write out his sums under instruction from the headmaster. Stephen looks kindly on the boy, knowing that he is loved by his mother, and he is reminded again of the death of his own mother. The numerical symbols remind him of the Moors and the lost wisdom of the ages when dance was alive to larger mathematical patterns. He encourages the boy to work out the next sum by himself and as he tentatively writes out the sums Stephen thinks of his own childhood and the protective and nourishing role of the mother. The exercise finished the student races to join the others at hockey. Mr. Deasy the Headmaster is on the sports field trying to assert order and completing missing why there is chaos in the first place. He instructs Stephen to wait in his study that smells of stale smoke and leather. Deasy takes pleasure in counting out Stephen’s wages from his wallet. The sovereigns have little value for Stephen. He listens politely as Deasy lectures him on thrift and the power of money. Looking at the coins he thinks about the debasement of the symbol of the shell in the service of greed which seems to bring so much misery. When Stephen bundles the money into his pocket Deasy suggest he buy a special purse. The repetition of this scene alerts Stephen to the boredom and lack of progress in his teaching job. Deasy talks about the pride inherent in being able to pay your way without having to borrow money. Stephen lists in his mind all his debts and they are many times greater than his meager wages. Deasy inspired by looking at a portrait of the Prince of Wales tries to impart some knowledge to Stephen from his life’s experience. He reminds him that long before the Catholic nationalist leader, O’Connell, the Protestant Orange Lodges tried to have union with Britain repealed and he declares his pride in his ancestors. Deasy asks Stephen to help him with his contacts to have a letter of his published in the newspapers. He wants to save the Irish cattle trade from foot and mouth disease and has written about a cure by an Austrian veterinary surgeon. He sits at the typewriter to make final corrections and Stephen looks at the photographs of thoroughbred horses on the walls. Cranly, with promises of making money, had coaxed Stephen to the racetrack and the calls of the bookies. Someone scores a goal and there are loud shouts from the hockey field as though their bodies were competing like the knights of old in mortal combat. Deasy hands Stephen the letter that outlines a cure from Murzssteg in Austria and says he will try publicity to break through the duplicity of government departments. He rails against the Jews as being responsible for the economic destruction of England. Stephen interjects that one’s religion could hardy change the buying and selling reality of a commercial transaction. Deasy is relentless in his argument and says the Jews wander the earth as punishment for sins against the light. Stephen recalls the Jews he saw trading in the stock markets in Paris and decides that accumulation of wealth is a vanity that is inevitably dispelled by time. Stephen suggests everyone could be accused of sinning against the light. When he dismisses history Deasy rallies to say something profound about God being revealed through the unfolding of history. Stephen listens to the shouts from the hockey field and proposes that these voices are also God. Deasy holds his nose to steady his breathing and then, admitting the many sins, blames women for bringing sin into the world. The Greek war on Troy, the invasion of Ireland and the downfall of a great man like Parnell all brought about by women. Stephen at a loss to continue the conversation politely moves to go with the letter for publication in his hand. Deasy acknowledges that Stephen will not be satisfied with life as a teacher. Stephen tells Deasy he will talk to the editors he knows about the letter. Deasy has also given a copy to the Hon Mr. Field M.P. to read at a public meeting later in the day. Stephen walks down the wooded track near the hockey field and notes the sleeping lions on each side of the gate. He anticipates the ridicule of Mulligan for helping with the letter. Deasy chases after him to make a joke about the Irish never being hostile to the Jews because none were ever allowed into the country. Deasy breathless from running chokes and laughs as he repeats the punch line. Stephen watches the rays of the sun coming through the trees, as they sparkle on his retreating shoulders, like coins dancing in the light.

Ulysses comprises 18 EPISODES June 16th 1904 Dublin