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Happy Father's Day to Leopold Bloom

June 16, 2019

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, but especially Leopold Bloom.

Since Father's Day is the day to celebrate dads and Bloomsday is the day to celebrate Ulysses and James Joyce, and both of those happen to be today, what better way to celebrate than to talk about Leopold Bloom.

Leopold Bloom is the main character of Ulysses and by all accounts he is an average person. He isn't particularly gifted or noteworthy, but he is kind and rather thoughtful. In the book, he walks around Dublin, running errands, meeting people, and occasionally getting into trouble just like you or I would. Part of the joy of Ulysses comes from Bloom being so normal. Joyce takes this man's regular day and turns it into an exciting, linguistic adventure, and it often reminds me that even the most mundane days can be extraordinary.

 But something I've never really considered is how Bloom embodies many different emotions one feels as a parent. When I was reading Ulysses, I was too focused on the writing to notice some of the more poignant parts of the story. For instance, he has a daughter, Millicent, whom he loves dearly. She is his pride and joy, and he is happy to dote on her. Bloom also reflects on his son Rudy, who died shortly after being born. Although this happened 11 years ago, Bloom feels the tremendous grief of losing his newborn son as if it were something that happened yesterday.

However, one of my favorite aspects of the book is Bloom's relationship with Stephen Dedalus. The pair meet, and Bloom treats him like he would a son, getting him home safely after a wild night out. It's a good reminder that you don't need to be related to care for someone. And you do have some say in who your family is.

So happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there and happy Bloomsday to all!

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Emily is the Branch Services Specialist at the Main Library. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, hiking, and playing with her dog, Fern.