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3.10 Bricks in the Wall

The material aspect of the wall HCE creates is likened to ALP, the city, the tip and the world itself. Perceived amid the ruins of civilisation and language, however, the perception of the picture of HCE within such containers preordains that ALP and her children are reduced to mere signifiers. While HCE sins and falls, his triumph exists solely in terms of the persistence of his remains, the picture within/on the wall, and his fall can be interpreted as a strategy of escape which Shem as heretical writer similarly adopts (see below, *). The continuing perception of HCE in effect is a reversal of his buggery by the fusiliers, for the acknowledgment of his fragmented picture diminishes the identity of his descendants to that of merely his messengers through time. This is overtly the case with Shaun in his role as postman. Shem on the other hand is more subtly portrayed as a reincarnation of HCE: as a creator of textual or cultural reality, he (like Stephen) represents a second coming similar to that of Christ (see below, *, *). HCE's building of the wall is likened to the reproduction of humanity, and the material nature of his descendants' being is stressed ahead of their individual characteristics, for instance, where humans are portrayed as bricks. This singularity of identity within the plurality of descendants is reflected in an imperative reading of the title Finnegans Wake, where despite a potentially infinite number of Finnegans (male and female) none have individual personalities or existences essentially separate from the originator: all are atavars of Finnegan. What is disturbing about the Wakean model, and a dilemma which the present study in part attempts to resolve, is that the role of Issy/ALP is largely confined to perpetuating HCE, his achievements and his qualities, both culturally and genetically. The question needs to be asked regarding Joyce's model, however: why cannot a woman be the signified?