Chapter Seventeen, Ithaca
Narrative Focus: Bloom/Stephen, then Bloom
Characters: Bloom, Stephen, Molly
Setting: Bloom’s House, 2 am.
Odysseus’ return culminates in the test of the bow and in his rout of Penelope’s suitors: first, he arranges and wins the contest for Penelope by stringing and shooting the great bow of Odysseus; the he and Telemachus lure the suitors into the great hall, lock them in, and rain arrows on them till the last are dead (Books XXI-XXII). Here, a triumphant but bloodless return to the House of Bloom.
Bloom, having guided Stephen home to 7 Eccles Street, finds he has forgotten his key (see Ch. I) and so climbs through the service door and lets Stephen into the kitchen where yet more conversation ensues (this time, a father-son talk turning most immediately on the significance of the day’s events). Stephen declines Bloom’s offer of shelter for the night (or more), departs, leaves Bloom to reconnoiter his reclaimed house and repair to bed with Molly.
The narrative voice retreats into a) a parody of “objective” narration and b) a deliberately catechismal question-and-answer session, appropriate to the “dialogue” that has been established between Stephen and Bloom.