Finnegans Wake: Book 3.2

Shaun returns to reality (if you can call it that) from the donkey’s dream, going by the name Jaunty Jaun, a man know ‘far and wide, as large as he was lively, was he noted for his humane treatment of any kind of abused footgear,’ . He seems a little roughed up or worse for wear. He passes a policeman who has fallen asleep, drunk, at his post and eventually comes across his sister Izzy (Isa from previous chapters) and 28 schoolgirls from St Brigid’s School sitting under a tree. They are apparently learning ‘their antemeridian lesson of life.’ 

Jaun greets the schoolgirls with a doff of his hat (with a reinforced crown) and they all make a great fuss of him – all except the prettiest girl. The girls jiggle his fat, feel his manhood and declare him to be sixteen years old, which is rather forward of them in several respects. In return, Jaun makes various comments on their appearances (some quite harsh, others salaciously approving) and advises them to read up on Irish legends.

It appears that Jaun is planning on going away and speaks fondly of his sister Izzy, declaring that he will miss her terribly. He then goes on to discuss a sermon he heard given by Father Mike and implores the girls to gather around and listen. It is quite a lengthy sermon, as it turns out. It starts off innocuously enough, with instructions to keep the Ten Commandments, go to church on a Sunday and not to eat pork on a Friday. There is practical advice about cooking (the importance of food is greatly stressed) and keeping a clean house, plus some very useful tips on handling an alcoholic husband – which if they end up marrying any of the characters from this book could come in very handy. Jaun preaches the importance of remaining chaste and virtuous, but expresses this in such a suggestive manner that you very much get the impression that he prefers the company of somewhat less virtuous ladies. To further this point, he gives some quite detailed and graphic advice on lovemaking, although one wonders how a chubby sixteen year old has accumulated such esoteric knowledge. Other highlights of the sermon include:

‘Never lose your heart away till you win his diamond back’ (I think this is tip for card games)

Warnings about posing nude for artists

Don’t sleep with a piano player, especially if he is your lodger

‘Never park your brief stays in the men’s convenience. Never clean your buttoncups with your dirty pair of sassers.’  Wise words indeed!

There is also what appears to be a swipe at his mother, ALP, when he explains at length the error of cheating on a husband with a great many men and becoming pregnant. Jaun generally speaks highly of his mother in both this chapter and the one previous, but his hatred of his illegitimate half brother Shem is evident throughout the book.

Eventually, Jaun announces that he is hungry and needs to go. He asks the girls to wait for him until the grame reaper’ comes, but Izzy has other ideas. She implores him not to leave and starts talking about priests. Another of the girls declares her love for Jaun, but sadly cannot pursue her feelings for him as she already has a boyfriend who is more gifted in the trouser department. Unimpressed, Jaun has a drink and starts shouting. He tells the girl that she can have Dave the Dancekerl instead. Jaun is very fond of Dave:

‘I bonded him off more as a friend and as a brother to try and grow a muff.’

As luck would have it, Dave comes around the corner carrying some pate and three white feathers. Jaun proceeds to sing his praises, although there are a few snipes about his physical appearance – Dave is far more slender than Jaun and I think he is a bit jealous about the fact.

Jaun insists that he must board a ship immediately and all the girls weep with despair. Then, a worrying thing. These words appear:

‘But the strangest thing happened.’

Considering the unlikeliness of the book so far, one can only wonder with ever-increasing dread what it might mean by ‘the strangest thing’.  As it turns out, I don’t have much of an idea, unfortunately, except that Jaun chokes, spits and curses. A great deal of randomness ensues and Jaun possibly dies. We end on this note:

‘The silent cock shall crow at last. The west shell shake the east awake. Walk while ye have the night for morn, lightbreakfast-bringer, morroweth whereon every past shall full cost sleep.

Amain.’

Thoughts

This is a very amusing and quite naughty chapter on the whole but the overall feeling is one of hypocrisy. The boastful Jaun / Shaun presents himself initially as a wise and pious fellow, to whom the young ladies should pay great attention. But he immediately abuses his position by endlessly detailing the behaviours he at first advised them to avoid. Joyce has a marvellous sense of irony and makes flagrant use of juxtaposition to create some very dark humour. On the upside, the final lines suggest that someone is on the way with some breakfast, so it’s not all bad.

Favourite Lines

‘I’ll tear up your limpshades and lock all your trotters in the closet, I will, and cut your silk-skin into garters.’

Now, there’s a threat if ever I heard one.

‘And is that any place to be smuggling his madam’s apples up? Deceitful jade. Gee wedge! Begor, I like the way they’re half cooked.’

I don’t know what it means but it made me laugh.

‘Dress the pussy for her nighty and follow her piggy-tails up their way to Winkyland.’

Quick trip to Winkyland, anybody?

63 comments

  1. If this is based on Joyce’s dreams, I’m having a little wonder about what Freud would have made of him. I suspect Freud’s head might have exploded. I also suspect my head might, too. And the biggest surprise of all is that your head hasn’t! Yet. 😉

    1. It hasn’t exploded yet, but little bits have been leaking out 🙂 There is quite a chunk of rather dark stuff in it that I have decided doesn’t need discussing here, which suggests that Joyce was a very disturbed individual indeed. That would be a whole series of its own. But it won’t be me that bloody writes it, I can tell you that! *nurses brain*

    2. Hahaha! I suspect there will be a news report shortly regarding a sudden cake shortage crisis down south! Oh no – Boris and Jeremy will have to form a government of national unity (ha!) to get it sorted… or maybe Angela Eagle could just bake some…

    3. Blimey, I dread to think what sort of cake Boris and Jeremy would come up with! They can just send me a case or three of wine instead, that’ll solve it 😉 Perhaps Call Me Dave can ask George Osborne if he can spare a few quid to set up a specialist cake factory in Cambridge. They might as well do something useful before they bugger off.

  2. Blimey, I don’t want my skin cut into garters. But a trip to Winkyland might prove some fun! Hold onto your head and keep the little gray cells in place.

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