4.5 The HCE Deity as Spiritual Father
The identification of HCE with a deity, particularly the Christian god generally described as 'Father', goes some way to explain the frequent references to the characters of the Wake as being fostered. Certainly ALP's status as a foundling, or without parents, ties in with the Wake's parallel with the story of Genesis and ALP's equation with the fatherless Eve:
at a side issue, [...] the cutletsized consort, foundling filly of fortyshilling fostertailor. (FW 255.28-30)
Braham Baruch he married his cook to Massach McKraw her uncle-in-law who wedded his widow to Hjalmar Kjaer who adapted his daughter to Braham the Bear. (FW 284.N4)
The transcendent family of HCE and ALP, existing beneath the surface of the tangible and subtly informing both genetic and literary reproduction, provides a second family following any given fall of HCE and his subsequent deification:
soontobe second parents (sukand see whybe!). (FW 52.35)
And sure he was the quare old buntz too, Dear Dirty Dumpling, foostherfather of fingalls and dotthergills. Gammer and gaffer we're all their gangsters. (FW 215.13-15)
Other religions are also incorporated into the Wakean theme of adoption, such as St Patrick's refusal to participate in the pagan Irish ritual of adoption which would involve sucking upon male nipples: 'He had buckgoat paps on him, soft ones for orphans. Ho, Lord! Twins of his bosom' (FW 215.27-28). Following Stephen's literary prize, he considers himself isolated from his family, describing himself as 'hardly of the one blood with them but stood to them rather in the mystical kinship of fosterage, fosterchild and fosterbrother' (P 90). Such transcendence finds expression in Finnegans Wake where the artist Shem is a 'half brother' (FW 489.28) and St Kevin, an ascetic version of Shaun, is described as 'Coemghem, the fostard' (FW 603.34). The reference to adoption also ties in with the theme of the consubstantial father in Ulysses, where Stephen and Bloom parallel the relationship between Christ and god the father. Thus the mystical fosterage, and reference to recurrence in 'Coemghem' or 'come again', echoes Christ's own sojourn on earth. Moreover, Colin MacCabe notes that Stephen's fantasy of himself as adopted 'holds out the constant promise of the production of a mythical father who will embody the name of Dedalus'; yet, on the other hand,
This figure of the omnipotent father, who will fix an identity on his son, is in conflict with the text's deconstruction of the mechanisms of identification [...] In so far as the text refuses narrative and the father, it can investigate the world of the mother that lies buried in a patriarchal society, but in so far as the text figures an omnipotent father, in so far as it still tells a story then women will figure as bagatelles, mere means of exchange between men.
MacCabe suggests that the refusal of the father is made absolute in Finnegans Wake, where 'the father becomes the simple permutation of a set of letters'.11 ALP, however, is a similarly reductive permutation, and to the extent that the father is refused, so too is the mother.
As Joyce subverts catholic theology by centring the miracle of sexual reproduction, thus resurrecting the significance of the female to Western culture, it is not surprising that the narcissism of imagined adoption is extended to the females of Finnegans Wake, so that the relationship between ALP and Issy becomes that of foster sisters:
fastra sastra. (FW 61.20)
annias, Mark Erse's Dar, the adopted child. (FW 575.24-25)
Crying, me, grownup sister! Are me not truly? (FW 621.16-17)
In a biblical parallel empowering a sexual Eve who like Christ is made not begotten, the concept of Issy/ALP transcends humanity in the same manner as her male counterparts. However, her deification as 'holy mother' rests, like that of many of the female deities which precede her, upon aspects relating to biological reproduction. The promise which to the male viewer lingers in feminine 'virgin' beauty, and the indulgence in and satisfaction of sexual pleasure or the fecundity of a fertility deity, equates Issy/ALP with the Virgin Mary who simultaneously satisfies both these requirements for the masculine ideology of the Christian church. Moreover, being the sexual reciprocal of the holy mother the Virgin Mary, and the object of the deity's desire and cause of the second coming, in one sense makes Issy/ALP both mother and sister to her children (see also,*).
9 German, suchen Sie das Weib: find the lady; Roland McHugh, Annotations to Finnegans Wake (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980), p. 52; or suchen Sie Weiber, look for women.
10 Colin MacCabe, James Joyce and the Revolution of the Word (London: MacMillan, 1979), p. 66.
11 MacCabe, James Joyce and the Revolution of the Word, p. 142.