Let me begin with a new word I learned – Omphalos. Definition – a religious stone or, in Greek, navel. (think ships not belly buttons) This simple definition showed me how complicated Joyce made this book. During this section of the book, there is a discussion on the Navy yet throughout the chapter there are religious references. Which definition was I to use? Stone or navel? Oh well, I will go with both. I can tell this book is going to be a wild ride!
Religious references are throughout this chapter. I am descended from Irish Catholics and Catholic myself. When I am reading about one character, Buck, singing the mass in Latin in jest of Irish Catholics, I must say I was a bit uncomfortable with it. How dare he? (To Mom and Dad – the Catholic education did some good I knew the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in Latin!) Then our main character, Stephen, we find out is an Irish Catholic. (I like him already!) The last character, Haines, is an atheist and English. Mmmmm? So Joyce is going to explore different views of religion or God? Protestant and Catholic? English and Irish?
But wait we aren’t done – not only did Joyce touch on religion and politics (I won’t get into that in here), he brings in Shakespeare. Now that is crazy! Latin mass and Shakespeare quotes from ‘Hamlet’. Given that I barely remember ‘Hamlet’, I am guessing Hamlet is a tie to Stephen and his restless soul. This gets more and more interesting. Granted I have to research quite a bit while I read and, yes, Google is my friend, I am finding the book is more fun digging deep than just reading and skimming over the words I really don’t understand. Next, search term… Hamlet.
Lastly, the best part of what I read so far is the fact that Joyce used Algebra and Shakespeare in the same sentence. My engineering left brain loved it! I could have done better in high school literature if an algebraic formula was used to teach me iambic pentameter. Time to read!