By Bernard McKenna
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Additional resources for James Joyce's Ulysses: A Reference Guide
He catches sight of an offer for shares in orange, olive, almond, or citrus groves in the Middle East. Bloom rejects the idea of an actual investment but allows himself the fantasy of perfect citrons loaded on the docks awaiting shipment to Ireland. His fantasy merges with idyllic memories of his early life with Molly, prior to the loss of their son and their previously active sex life. As a cloud passes overhead, Bloom’s thoughts grow bleaker. He imagines the once holy and fertile land of Palestine grown bleak and desolate.
As Bloom leaves the house, he thinks of his wife’s past and their bed, which Molly brought with her from Gibraltar, where it was purchased at auction by her father. As Bloom leaves the house, he discovers that he has forgotten his key but decides not to return for it; he does not want to disturb his wife. While crossing the street, on his way to the butcher’s shop, his thoughts range from the heat of the day to the imagined Orient to money and commerce. Significantly, even though he indulges in deeply romantic thoughts, he catches himself, realizing that the East is probably not like his fantasy version of it.
Power and Dedalus then speculate that the worst form of death is suicide, saying that it is a cowardly way out that disgraces the family of the deceased. Cunningham, knowing that Bloom’s father killed himself, tries to temper their comments. Bloom reflects on Cunningham’s kindness, thinking him sympathetic and intelligent, comparing his face with Shakespeare’s face. Bloom thinks of the intolerance of suicides, of his father’s desperation, and of the details of his father’s death and its aftermath, dwelling for the most part on loss.