The narrative indulges some poetic license when it describes Mulligan’s friend moving “frogwise his green legs in the deep jelly of the water.” But when Mulligan himself is seen at the end of the episode as “A sleek brown head, a seal’s, far out on the water, round,” simple perceptual uncertainty may produce the metamorphosis of man into beast. Seals abound in the waters off Dublin and its suburbs, and food tossed to them from piers has habituated many of them to human contact. Seeing a head bobbing in the waves, Stephen might well do a double take before deciding if it was human or not.

JH 2011

Photo taken off Bull Island near Dublin in 2009 by Ivan Gomez. Source: ivangomezphotoblog.blogspot.com.