The end of Ulysses was like finishing that statistics class, the one holding you back from your degree. At times I thought "Hey, this stuff is kind of interesting" but most of the time I dreaded it! The characters in Ulysses, Stephen, Mr. Bloom, Bloom's wife, etc. were characters I definitely were interested in. I suppose if I was a literature professor at Harvard, I would gobble this up with a spoon. But Alas, I am but a lowly high school teacher, who has not read the Odyssey or other Joyce works leaving me eating my peas with one chop stick. It is telling that I could find only one guide for sale explaining Ulysses (that being the one by Gilbert last put out in the 50's). I'm afraid Ulysses will not be part of Oprah’s book club this year and you won't see Mr. James Joyce on her program anytime soon saying "I'm sorry I said the book was true; no I've never hallucinated about my mother's dead corpse while soliciting prostitutes.”
So far I have yet to find anyone I know who has read Ulysses. I'd brag but no-one would know what in the hell I was talking about. Does that say something about the company I keep? Hmmmm.
The religious component, the relationship between the characters and who they were interested me. Guessing the scene, the hour, the art, the symbol, the technique, exhausted me! Some of the inner dialogue droned on endlessly leaving me glassy eyed and needing a drink! (Ulysses Turns Woman Into Alcoholic! That might get me on Oprah) Honestly, it was just too hard sometimes to figure out what the (explicative) was happening. Maybe like trying to go to work while on LSD, not that I know anything about that (I really don't, feel free to share).
For example, the brothel scene has Mr. Bloom hallucinating (I don't know why he is hallucinating) that he is a woman who is now being violated and has a fetus??? Stephen is dancing around with a bunch of hookers while the dead stinking corpse of his mother flies around??? All this is suppose to represent something and have parallels galore but I couldn't tell you what nor care to find out.
The simplest description of the book would be the father and son relationship between Stephen ( Christian) and Mr. Bloom ( Jewish). In Judaism they await the return of the son of God while in Christianity the son returns to his father. Stephen rejects his real father and Mr. Bloom's son died young. Moreover, Mr. Bloom discovered his own father post suicide and Stephen is horrified by his mother's death.
All three characters, Stephen, Mr. Bloom and Mrs. Bloom dream about the far east and its exotic offerings maybe as a juxtaposition to life in Dublin or as a file in which they stow away all their fetishes and desires. Mr Bloom describes his wife as having Spanish, Jewish and Moorish descent, which encompasses a matrix of intertwined beliefs and symbolism.
In the end, Stephen and Mr. Bloom come to recognize their counter point in each other. I don't think the relationship lasts; It is a fleeting moment recognized by both as being a defining moment in their existences.