Two Maries

Looking out across the sand flats toward the incoming tide in Proteus, Stephen sees first a dog and then two human beings to whom the dog belongs. He will soon see the indistinct humans as "A woman and a man," then as "Cocklepickers," then as "red Egyptians." But before he can see clearly enough to resolve even their gender, he imagines them as female figures from the Bible: "The two maries. They have tucked it safe mong the bulrushes." He is joining two very different biblical passages, and thereby joining ideas of womanhood, birth, and death.

JH 2015

Myrrh-bearing women at the tomb of Jesus, by an unknown artist. Source:

19th century British oil painting of Moses and his mother, held in the collection of the Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset. Source: