So far, I may have given more expression of preference than solid argument. I need now to list the main details throughout the book which prepare the reader for Stephen to accept the Bloom Offer. There is at once a rather quaint obstacle. Most readers of Ulysses do not believe in omens, but Joyce eagerly did; in this he is genuinely like Homer. Four of the characters receive omens, and Joyce would regard these as an assurance that some great event would occur. Stephen on the previous night had a disturbing dream which he increasingly recalls; and the absurd Haines, who was also sleeping in the Martello tower, had a nightmare. He thought himself attacked by a black panther, which he tried to shoot, and Malachi fired some shots to reassure him. Probably Haines had fired real shots too: both young men were accustomed to the use of sporting guns, which Stephen was not. The incident really occurred, and Joyce walked out of the tower for ever, in a drizzle, before dawn. In the novel there is no immediate break, because the author needs to keep the other two characters available. Haines makes occasional reappearances during the day, chiefly as a figure of farce, but usually with a recall of his black panther. Stephen twice very dimly thinks of Bloom as the black panther (Ulysses, 215, 592).
LRB 2 September 1982 | PDF Download