5.4 The Biblical Snake as a Fallen HCE
If the sin of eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge and its Wakean reciprocal of fornication are associated with the tree motif, the fallen HCE after the sin, and imagery of the snake as fallen angel, are associated with the stone. In the 'Appletree Bearstone' (FW 176.8) game quoted above, the reference to 'bearstone' also echoes the garden of Eden, albeit less directly. The Gaelic word for 'bear' is 'mahon', and references to 'Mahon', 'Mahun' and 'Meehan' occur regularly in the Wake, usually associated with a sometimes 'evil' but certainly older, fallen, servile version of HCE called 'old Joe'. The British Library MSS has the siglum S against the description of Old Joe in the questions chapter I.6, which McHugh in The Sigla of Finnegans Wake, referring to the Buffalo Notebooks, identifies as Joyce's symbolic identifier for a fallen 'Snake' character.7 The following quotation, suggests that the 'mob' of HCE's descendants have laid claim to his former 'possession' of ALP/Issy, and names the fallen HCE as 'Meehan' who, in his fallen state, no longer has any 'green' in him, but groans from within a stone:
The tower is precluded, the mob's in her petticoats; Mr R. E. Meehan is in misery with his billyboots. Begob, there's not so much green in his Ireland's eye! Sweet fellow ovocal, he stones out of stune. (FW 466.32-36)
In a similar discussion of HCE describing him as a buried king, HCE is again referred to as both Old Joe and Mahun:
it's old Joe, the Jave Jane, older even than Odam Costollo, and we are recurrently meeting em, par Mahun Mesme, in cycloannalism, from space to space, time after time, in various phases of scripture as in various poses of sepulture. (FW 254.24-28)
The bear is additionally linked to the name 'Sigurdsen', who is a fallen version of HCE. At the outset of Book III.2, 'butterblond' constable Sigurdsen is buried upright, a monument of sorts, asleep on duty embracing a 'bottle' (FW 429.36), a container of the entombed HCE in the form of an alcoholic beverage. Nearby are 29 Flora girls, under the tree of an Irish Hedge School who are 'attracted to the rarerust sight of the first human yellowstone landmark (the bear, the boer, the king of all boors, sir Humphrey his knave we met on the moors!)' (FW 430.5-8) which establishes a connection between the stone motif, Sigurdsen, the fallen HCE and the bear. Sigurdsen is in fact a fallen tree, for the girls are 'repelled by the snores of the log who looked stuck to the sod as ever and oft, when liquefied, (vil!) he murmoaned abasourdly in his Dutchener's native' (FW 430.12-14). He is later also described as the son of a bear: 'Sickerson, that borne of bjoerne, la garde auxiliaire' (FW 471.30). Stephen also mentions a Sackerson as 'The bear Sackerson growls in the pit' (U 9.155-56) in his discussion of Shakespeare in Scylla and Charybdis. While the bear as well as the horse are depicted as fallen or enslaved in Ulysses, these animals are specifically fallen reincarnations of HCE in Finnegans Wake.
One of the litany of descriptions of HCE in Book I.6 ambiguously describes the victorious HCE as either having hissed a 'charming' snake off ALP's stays/stage, or as a snake himself hissing off the snake charmer: HCE 'led the upplaws at the Creation and hissed a snake charmer off her stays' (FW 132.15-16). The snake is also associated with Shem, who is variously depicted as a Satan-figure by Shaun, but the siglum can also be on occasion identified with Shaun. In addition to Shem being the snake of the Garden, the repressive Shaun contributes significantly to the role assigned to the siglum S. The identity of the fallen HCE as 'pollysigh patrolman Seekersenn' (FW 586.28) can also be merged with that of Shaun who consistently playing the role of policeman/soldier in Finnegans Wake: 'It is polisignstunter. The Sockerson boy. To pump the fire of the lewd into those soulths of bauchees' (FW 370.30-31).
Grace Fredkin notes that one of S's dominant functions in Finnegans Wake is repression, 'the watchful repressive looking-on of constituted authority'.8 Sheldon Brivic suggests that Magrath is the 'evil' or negative side of HCE, but a duality of consciousness, a split identity.9 Younger males challenging the dominant HCE male and his creativity also appear under the pseudonym Magrath, and accordingly may be associated with the snake: 'Sneakers in the grass, keep off! If we were to tick off all that cafflers head, whisperers for his accomodation, the me craws' (FW 615.28-30). The letter of Book IV suggests that Shem's vitriolic letter, and the Cad's seemingly innocent question concerning the time, are the act of 'Mucksrats which bring up about uhrweckers they will come to know good' (FW 615.16-17). Magrath is also described as a policeman: 'I'd risk a policeman passing by, Magrath or even that beggar of a boots at the Post' (FW 145.22-23). Dependent upon the Wakean age, S can be any of the Wake's male character types, just as the washerwomen wonder who of HCE, Shem or Shaun, was ALP's first lover: 'Someone he was, whuebra they were, in a tactic attack or in single combat. Tinker, tilar, souldrer, salor, Pieman Peace or Polistaman' (FW 202.13-15). Whoever he was, ALP 'sid herself she hardly knows', except that, among other things, he was 'as tough as the oaktrees' (FW 202.23-30).
7 McHugh, Sigla, at p. 122 also notes that Buffalo Notebook IV.B.15.118 has 's is [HCE] beggar' and VI.B.28.47 's cannot create'; and at 130, 'VI.B.13.49 has ''/[ serpent by †'', VI.B.13.173 ''serpent ['' and VI.B.17.73 ''serpent ^'''.
8 's in Finnegans Wake', James Joyce Quarterly 23 (1986), 189-99 (p. 197).
9 Sheldon Brivic, 'The Terror and the Pity of Love: ALP's Soliloquy', James Joyce Quarterly, 29 (1991), 145-71 (p. 148).