The 750 years of English occupation of Ireland (850 in Ulster, and counting) have produced a number of different terms for the foreign invader, and the book contains several: "Saxon," "Sassenach," "stranger," "paleface." Unsurprisingly, these names for the conqueror tend to congregate in parts of the book where characters are discussing English imperialism and Irish resistance or acquiescence: Telemachus, Nestor, Aeolus, Cyclops, Circe, Eumaeus.
In these six episodes, the English-in-Ireland are called “Saxon” seven times, and “Sassenach” (Irish Sasanaigh) three. For many centuries this term has been used for people born in England, and not for those who have assimilated (the latter were called gaill or foreigners in the old annals). At the end of Telemachus Stephen, who is energetically resisting Haines' overtures of friendship, thinks, "Horn of a bull, hoof of a horse, smile of a Saxon." All three, according to a common saying, are things to fear. Gifford documents one version of the saying in a collection of Racial Proverbs published in London in 1938: “Beware of the horns of a bull, of the heels of a horse, of the smile of an Englishman.” Similarly, when Stephen imagines the violent boys in a British school, he thinks of them as "Palefaces."
The more common but neutral word “English” invites some creative attribution, ranging from Mulligan’s “God, these bloody English! Bursting with money and indigestion” to the brilliantly funny revenge ditty placed in the mouth of an only slightly exaggerated Citizen in Circe:
May the God above
Send down a dove
With teeth as sharp as razors
To slit the throats
Of the English dogs
That hanged our Irish leaders.
Most interesting of all is the epithet “stranger,” or “stranger in the house.” Stephen uses it when thinking of Haines, Deasy of the Anglo-Norman invaders in the twelfth century, and Stephen again in Scylla and Charybdis when he alludes to the Countess Kathleen bemoaning “her four beautiful green fields, the stranger in her house” (i.e., the four provinces of Ireland, and the English invaders). Old Gummy Granny, Circe’s hallucinatory version of the mythical Poor Old Woman, spits, “Strangers in my house, bad manners to them!”
In light of the frequent use of this Irish expression of resentment, it is interesting, to say the least, that Bloom is called “the stranger” several times. The anti-Semitism expressed by many of Dublin’s citizens prepares the reader for this nomination. At the end of Nestor, Mr Deasy jokes that Ireland has never persecuted the Jews “Because she never let them in.” In Cyclops, the xenophobic Citizen extends his dislike of the British to the “half and half” Italian-Irish Dennis Breen, and by insinuation to the Jewish-Irish Bloom. "We want no more strangers in our house," he says. Oxen of the Sun appears to perpetuate this mentality when Mulligan and the other young men in the maternity hospital think of Bloom several times as the “stranger.” Perhaps they are simply not used to seeing him in the hospital, but their use of the term may very well be xenophobic.
All three of the book's protagonists could be called strangers: the partly Jewish Bloom, the exotically Mediterranean Molly, and the young man with an "absurd name, an ancient Greek." Joyce's dislike of British rule was tempered by his awareness that Ireland has been shaped by repeated waves of conquest and assimilation. In Finnegans Wake he created another male protagonist who is regarded suspiciously as an outsider. Mr. Porter, the (possible) daytime instantiation of HCE, seems to be a Protestant, just as Bloom is Jewish, and HCE is associated repeatedly with the seafaring conquests of Danes, Norwegians, Jutes, Normans, Englishmen, and other Germanic invaders. His recurrent compulsion to defend his existence seems connected to Ireland's aggressive suspicion of outsiders: "So this is Dyoublong? Hush! Caution! Echoland!"
Maria Tymoczko argues that the ancient Irish text called The Book of Invasions "helps to explain why the central characters in Ulysses are all outsiders though they stand as universalized representations of Dubliners, for the invasion theory of Irish history in Lebor Gabála is predicated on the notion that there are no aboriginal inhabitants of the island. In this scheme, everyone is an outsider, descended as it were from immigrants. From the perspective of Irish pseudohistory, the cultural alienation of Stephen, Bloom, and Molly mirrors the heritage of all the island's inhabitants as descendants of invaders" (The Irish Ulysses, 35). Greek, Jew, and Spaniard, by this reading, stand in for Nemedians, Formorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha de Danann, Goidels-Milesians, Dane-Vikings, Anglo-Normans, British.