We’ve talked some over the last few pages about why Joyce’s milkwoman doesn’t speak Irish–click back to see (and maybe even to participate in!) this discussion.
In reading this page, I was struck by the oddness of Haines telling Mulligan to pay the milkwoman. If we read between the lines, we might infer that Haines has been there for three days, because they’ve had more milk for the last three days. Perhaps Haines is scandalized that they keep getting this milk and not paying for it. It’s been a while since she’s last been paid.
We’ve made up a quiz about money that we’ll post in the next day or so. Ulysses has a lot of money in it, as it should, given that it’s a record of a day in the life in the twentieth century. Joyce tells us how much meals and tram fares are, not to mention daily milk delivery. The milkwoman’s tally of what the men owe is conspicuously long and complicated. I’ve made a bookmark for my copy of Ulysses that has the old British money system on it: 12 pence to the shilling, 20 shillings to the pound, etc. It gives you a very important dimension to the book. Here’s an important benchmark (and an answer on the quiz)–a pint of beer costs 2 pence. This is the same amount the milkwoman was charging for a pint of milk. The accumulated cost of cost of the milk is 2 shillings, 2 pence, or enough money for a good drunk for two. Mulligan is clearly not happy about having to pay up.
But what difference does it make to Haines? In the next chapter we’ll hear that an Englishman’s proudest boast is “I paid my way,” a completely alien thought to Stephen and Mulligan. Keep an eye on debts and payments in Ulysses, financial and otherwise, and you’ll learn a great deal.