How did Bloom know Paddy Dignam?
February 28, 2010 2:08 PM   Subscribe

What was the nature of Leopold Bloom's relationship with Paddy Dignam? How did they know each other? Why did Bloom attend his funeral?

Not many people attended the funeral, but throughout the day Bloom ran into people who at least knew of Paddy Dignam, but seemed surprised he had died.
posted by mumblelard to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: If there are any other English Teachers out there, I finished reading Ulysses for my first time in January. I am sure that there are tons of things that I misread, misunderstood, or just missed on my first reading, and the answer to this question is one of them. I look forward to reading Ulysses again, but right now I am letting it sink in and writing down some things I think I understood completely, things I have questions about, things I want to understand before rereading. Thanks for your help.
posted by mumblelard at 3:33 PM on February 28, 2010

i really hope someone who might have a more detailed answer can help out here, but i don't think the relationship was ever described in much depth. i know that Dignam is referred to as a friend, but i can't remember if we get more than that.

sorry that i can't be of more help, but i read Ulysses 2 years ago, and when i think of Bloom attending a funeral, i just think of "a friend", without any particular details attached.
posted by gursky at 3:39 PM on February 28, 2010

I look forward to reading Ulysses again, but right now I am letting it sink in and writing down some things I think I understood completely, things I have questions about, things I want to understand before rereading.

Then I really suggest you follow pickypicky's "non-answer" and go have a look at something like The New Bloomsday Book to help answer questions.

I also agree with gursky; I can't remember some big revelation about how Bloom knew Paddy Dignam, other than the general sense that they were friends. Maybe someone else here has something more specific. Not everything has an answer, though, and part of the process of reading something like Ulysses is (as I'm sure you've seen) coming to your own conclusions about why Bloom but not Person X would go to the funeral, which is what I think pickypicky was trying to say.
posted by sallybrown at 3:53 PM on February 28, 2010

Mod note: few comments removed - bit of a do over folks?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:56 PM on February 28, 2010

The only indexed entry for Patrick Dignam in Ulysses Annotated by Don Gifford reads as follows:

(4.119) Dignam: The fictional Patrick Dignam and his family "lived" at 9 Newbridge Avenue in Sandymount, a maritime village three miles east-southeast of the center of Dublin.

William York Tindall's A Reader's Guide to James Joyce doesn't talk about their relationship at all. P. 151: "Mourning Paddy Dignam, Bloom is Ulysses mourning his lost companions." This is an old book, though, and really gets into the Odyssean parallels.

Any of these books may have more references, but these are the ones in the index.

I lost my copy of The New Bloomsday Book (borrowed, never returned! Bah!), so I can't run it down for you there, but it tends to crystallize things better than either of the above (I generally recommend it to people who are scratching their heads over practical questions in Ulysses -- it treats the who-what-when as it should be treated, as the most important entry into the book's ideas and feelings).

As I remember, (and I read the book long ago), Bloom seemed like the kind of stand-up guy who would show for your funeral even if you weren't the best of friends, but I don't remember anything specific about their relationship -- basically, long-windedly, I'm with gursky.
posted by Valet at 4:08 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

as a side note, i have to sort through some school stuff today or tomorrow. if i come across my copy of Gifford's Ulysses Annotated, i'd be more than happy to pass it on to you if you are thinking of taking on a second reading. it was very helpful to me, and came highly recommended by everyone i know who read Ulysses more than once.
posted by gursky at 4:17 PM on February 28, 2010

Response by poster: I researched this question some before posting it here without finding any specific answer. Based on the responses I have gotten here, it sounds like there isn't one. Thanks for your help.
posted by mumblelard at 4:20 PM on February 28, 2010

Just for completeness sake, after thumbing through my copy of The New Bloomsday Book, it looks like Dignam was just a friend, without any substantial back story behind his identity to be found in the book. It doesn't seem like they were very close friends, but they had a lot of acquaintances and friends in common.
posted by Diagonalize at 4:48 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Molly Bloom spends some time thinking about Dignam and Bloom's friends in her soliloquy, pages 773-774 of the Vintage International paperback edition, and everything in there reinforces the sense that Dignam was just a sort of second-tier friend -- mostly a drinking buddy to Bloom's male friends, and maybe sort of a permanent acquaintance to Bloom himself.
posted by newmoistness at 7:49 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Bloom has a lot of acquaintances from his line of work. He's also very good natured, so he picks up more acquaintances that way. Given how out of place he is during the funeral, I have always assumed that Paddy was a sort of medium acquaintance, and Bloom's general good nature is what made him end up at the funeral.
posted by milarepa at 9:28 AM on March 1, 2010

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