This chapter features minor characters (some new and some that we already met in previous chapter) as they go about their daily lives in Dublin. It begins with Father Conmee taking the tram across town, while working to help the family of the deceased Paddy Dingam. Other characters such as Mr. Powers and Martin Cunningham, whom we originally met in the funeral, talk about Bloom’s generous donation to the Dingam family, along with other matters. We meet up with Simon Dedalaus again as he is confronted by his daughter who demands money from him that he is hoarding presumably to spend on alcohol later. Buck Mulligan and Haines meet up in a restaurant to eat some cakes and scones. Mulligan predicts that while Stephen has a lot of talent and intelligence, Stephen’s great tragedy will be that he will never actually create a lasting work of art. Bloom searches through a used bookstore to purchase a lightly erotic novel that he believes Molly will enjoy about a wife cheating on her husband. Meanwhile, Blazes Boylan visits a fruit shop to purchase fruits for his impending lascivious liaison with Molly. This chapter ends with the British governor of Ireland going off to an important political event in which he passes by each character.
In this chapter, we again see a very human and noble side to Bloom. Despite his wife’s impending infidelity, Bloom still loves his wife, is extremely considerate of her needs, and is willing to purchase erotic novels that will please her. Mr. Powers and Martin Cunningham remark upon Bloom’s generosity to the deceased and are impressed that he doesn’t seek praise for this act or any recognition. From this we see Bloom is an extremely thoughtful person who thinks about others. This is contrasted with Simon Dedalaus whose selfish alcoholism leads him to hold back money from his needy family and Blazes Boylan who doesn’t love Molly, but only buys her things that will lead to his own pleasure with her. Even though Powers and Cunningham remark on Bloom’s generosity as a positive, they finish up by noting the generosity of Jews. On the one hand, this challenges the traditional stereotype of Jews as greedy. On the other hand, the two men are still stereotyping Bloom as a Jew; instead of it being about Bloom’s generosity and individual humanity, it becomes about his ethnic affiliations.
The fact that the chapter begins with Father Conmee and ends with the British governor of Ireland, while giving us little snippets of the average Dubliner on the street in between is also important. The church and the state play little roles in the real concerns of the average people that fill the streets of Dublin. Those concerns range from trying to seduce a married woman (Blazes Boylan), trying to deal mentally with becoming a cuckold (Leopold Bloom), dealing with an alcoholic father who is impoverishing the family (Simon Dedalaus and his daughter), etc.