Nor no nothing
Nor no nothing
In a chapter defined by recurrence of the word Yes (91
times), Molly's uses of the word No are not only fewer (60)
but much more ordinary, less distinctive and expressive—with
one significant exception. She did not like it when Boylan
slapped her on the behind: "no thats no way for him has he
no manners nor no refinement nor no nothing in his nature
slapping us behind like that on my bottom because I didnt call
him Hugh the ignoramus." Joyce's rhetorically deliberate
bunching of n-words here suggests a tipping point in Molly's
estimation of her new lover.
The eight punchy negatives (no, no, no, nor no, nor no
nothing) initiate the eighth of Molly's eight "sentences."
Clearly they are intended as a bookend to the more conspicuous
eight affirmatives that conclude the sentence: "then I asked
him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me
would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and
first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down
to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and
his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes
I will Yes." The Yeses express her affirmation, after skeptical
examination, of a marriage that has lasted for nearly 16
years and may endure longer.
The Noes, by contrast, indicate her ambivalence about a
liaison that may prove brief: "of course hes right enough in
his way to pass the time as a joke sure you might as well be
in bed with what with a lion God Im sure hed have something
better to say for himself an old Lion would." In the words of
Porgy and Bess, Boylan is a sometime thing. In the
horse race of Molly's thoughts, the turn into the home
stretch, at sentence 8, marks the point where the longshot
dark horse begins to overtake his rival.