The fourth episode in Ulysses corresponds to the story of Calypso. It takes place at 8:00 am, at Leopold Bloom’s house. Upstairs, his lady sleeps, above her bed a reproduction of a painting called the Nymph’s Bath, a huge hint that she is the eponymous seductress in this chapter. Downstairs, Bloom puts down milk for his cat before walking to the butcher’s to buy a kidney for his breakfast.
According to the Gilbert Schema, this chapter’s colour is orange, the allocated organ is the kidney and its symbol is the Nymph. The colour is evoked in Bloom’s reverie of Molly’s native Gibraltar with its golden sunsets, and of his ancestral Palestine as he imagines it, laden with fecund fruit imagery “Orangegroves and immense melonfields north of Jaffa (…) with olives, oranges, almonds or citrons”
Orange is also the colour of the (full?!) chamber pot under Molly’s bed. Bodily functions related to the kidney are revisited later in the outhouse. Navigating impressively “between scatology and eschatology” – I read that somewhere – Joyce uses this chapter to draw parallels between the two protagonists. Backtracking to 8:00 am, it is breakfast time as in the “Telemachus” chapter, and the same cloud covers the sun reminding both men of death. Milk is being delivered in both episodes.
Bloom’s bondage to Molly is a result of his uxoriousness, unlike Ulysses who was held as a captive for seven years by Calypso, enthralled by her charms while still longing for his own wife. Interestingly, Ireland was styled as the original Calypso’s island, Ogygia as part of the Irish Literary Revival (nicknamed the Celtic Twilight), though Joyce never quite believed this. Gibraltar, Molly’s birthplace, is a more legitimate candidate for Homer’s inspiration of Ogygia, and I love the way he ties them together. Of course, being a cat person, I can’t shake the feeling that the real Calypso here is the cat. I mean,
She blinked up out of her avid shameclosing eyes, mewing plaintively
and long, showing him her milkwhite teeth.
tell me I don’t have a point!