God is good

In Brief

Bloom remembers the midwife, Mrs. Thornton, recognizing that Rudy would not live and commenting, "Well, God is good, sir." Gifford identifies this remark as a "staple cliché of Irish fatalism. It masks the inscrutability of God's omniscience and omnipotence: even what seems disastrous to human beings can be 'good' in the divine order of things." (The Arabic expression insha'Allah, "God willing," expresses a similar fatalist spirit.)

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Readers of Ulysses should probably hear a correspondence between this old woman's piety in Bloom's first chapter and another old woman's in Stephen's: "That's a lovely morning, sir, she said. Glory be to God." To Mulligan, the milklady's inclination to connect the vagaries of the weather to the intentions of the Almighty is an anthropological curiosity: "The islanders, Mulligan said to Haines casually, speak frequently of the collector of prepuces."

JH 2017
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