I am off

I am off

In Brief

Stephen's ultimatum, "If he stays on here I am off," echoes events at the beginning of the Odyssey. Telemachus attempts to get rid of the suitors, and fails. Athena, in her disguise as Mentor, advises him to overcome his impotent dissatisfaction and take action, by leaving Ithaca to go looking for news of his father. Similarly, Stephen feels excluded and demeaned by Mulligan's alliance with Haines, and resolves to leave.

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Although Stephen leaves the tower at the end of this episode less dramatically than Telemachus or Joyce (he heads off to a morning of teaching at Mr. Deasy’s private boys’ school), he resolves not to return at night. He avoids a planned meeting with Mulligan and Haines at The Ship—a narrative echo of Telemachus’ evasion of the ambush at sea planned by Antinous and his companions. And when Mulligan catches up with him in Scylla and Charybdis, he thinks, “Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?” 

JH 2011
Pablo E. Fabisch's drawing of Telemachus and Mentor in a modern edition (Buenos Aires, 1956) of François Fénelon's The Adventures of Telemachus (1699). Source: Wikimedia Commons.