The Secret of Ulysses: An Analysis of James Joyce's Ulysses

By Rolf R. Loehrich | Go to book overview

9. THE RIDDLES

It is incapacity, frustration, guilt, suffering and sickness which provokes in man the question of what life is about and why his personal unique destiny is what it is. That is the riddle of the Sphinx.546, 547

Stephen is victimized by guilt concerning his mother and sister -- "agenbite of inwit". As he lives by intellect and intuition, the riddle is, for him, a puzzle of which he is fully aware. Bloom is victimized by fascinations, the danger of the whip in the hands of a woman. As he lives sensuality, the riddle is, for him, the secret of the fetish-situation -- a magnetic force drawing him without leading to awareness of the puzzle.

There are three riddles. All of them are formulated in verse. They are: the riddle of the fox who buried his grandmother, told by Stephen; the riddle of the rose, told by Lenehan; and lastly, the riddle of the duck, sung by Cissy Caffrey.

*

THE RIDDLE OF THE FOX. Stephen, teaching in Mr. Deasy's school, asks his pupils if they wish to hear a riddle. They do. Here is the riddle:

"The cock crew
The sky was blue:
The bells of heaven
Were striking eleven.
'Tis time for this poor soul
To go to heaven."
27

The riddle is formulated again by Stephen in the brothel (Payments in the brothel) with slight changes:

"'Tis time for her poor soul
To get out of heaven."
544

When asked by the pupils to give the answer to the riddle, Stephen says,

"The fox burying his grandmother under a hollybush."28

-86-

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The Secret of Ulysses: An Analysis of James Joyce's Ulysses
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents vii
  • List of Tables ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1. the Secret 1
  • 2. the Intent 4
  • I - The Interpretation 7
  • 3. the Action 9
  • 4. the Continuity of the Story 13
  • 5. Episode 15 24
  • 6. the Contending Power Groups 55
  • 7. the Lex Eterna 61
  • 8. the Other Dimension 73
  • II- The Code with Joyce 83
  • 9. the Riddles 86
  • 10. Cette Fichue Position 94
  • 11- the Eternal Parents Misjudged As Unfaithful 98
  • 12. the Unfaithfulness of Man 104
  • 13. the Riches of Life 110
  • 14. the Manifestation of God 115
  • III- The Aesthetic Form Of Ulysses 123
  • 15. the Artistic Intent 125
  • 16- the Aesthetic Media: The First Framework 128
  • 17. the Hidden Plot 129
  • 18- Deflections from the Hidden Plot To the Aesthetic Media 132
  • 19. the Changing Viewpoints 136
  • IV- Existence for Joyce 139
  • 20. Fiction or Discovery? 141
  • 21- Bona Fide Dream-Reports And Secondary Thought Elaborations 143
  • 22- Psycho Therapeutics -- the Way Of Atonement 167
  • 23. Guilt -- Infantile and Existential 176
  • 24. Man's Status in Existence 184
  • Index 189
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