Posts Tagged ‘key’

Telemachus 0064

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

They key thing that happens on this page (so to speak) is Mulligan asking for the key to the tower.  We know that Stephen has paid the rent, we know that he’s the real intellectual, we know that Mulligan has been overplaying their friendship to Haines for the sake of squeezing some money out of the Englishman, we know that Mulligan’s real interest in Stephen pales in comparison to his more craven or conniving plans.

By giving up the key, Stephen is relinquishing control of the tower to an untrustworthy friend.  As he does so, he knows it’s a turning point in his relationship with Mulligan and in his life.  By handing over the key, he is freeing himself from the “third master” who wants him for the “odd jobs.”

And of course, Haines, the Englishman, prudently shows himself to be afraid of swimming on a full stomach. Or maybe the sight of naked Mulligan disheartened him.

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Telemachus 0057

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

Haines has been tentatively probing Stephen, trying to learn something about his religious beliefs, his thoughts about Shakespeare, his thoughts about Mulligan — anything that will help him understand the strange Irish intellectual and perhaps be able to use him in his work.  Stephen has no interest in this, however, and the questions just make him feel more and more isolated.

In these panels, Stephen concludes that he cannot stay any longer at the tower, that he cannot be a part of Mulligan’s bankrupt intellectual project, even though he paid the rent on the tower. [n.b. — in real life, Mulligan’s counterpart, Oliver St. John Gogarty, was the one who paid the rent.]  He accurately guesses that Mulligan will ask him for the key, and he will become displaced and homeless.

Stephen’s dragging his ashplant, or walking stick, behind him further accentuates his feelings of powerlessness and impotence.  He calls it his “familiar,” like a magician’s assistant, calling his name.  Everything around Stephen seems to be crying out for him to take action, like his Odyssean counterpart Telemachus.  Even Haines reminds Stephen that he has the power to be his own master, but Stephen doesn’t see it yet.

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Telemachus 0047

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Mulligan’s friendly condescension in the first part of this chapter has now turned into something a little darker. “You have eaten all we left, I suppose,” a comment directed at Stephen, is basically insulting. Stephen is the last to leave the tower, and he has the key. He’s being treated like the help, like unreliable help, the “server of a servant” again.

For the sake of clarity we left a line out here — after the “You have eaten” line, Mulligan says “And going forth he met Butterly.” It’s yet another instance of Mulligan using scripture for a (rather elliptical) joke. It’s based on a passage in the passion of the Gospel of Matthew where the apostle Peter realizes that he has betrayed Jesus three times over the course of one night, as Jesus had predicted he would. The original passage is: “And going forth he wept bitterly.” Mulligan’s quote puts him, curiously, in the place of Peter, whereas before he was Jesus. There is no other mention of a Butterly in the book, by the way.

Finally, keep an eye on the key. It’s a symbol of ownership, property, and power.

Oh and one more thing — Rob, is it time to say something about the “Latin Quarter Hat”?

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