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7.2 The Wakean Female as Biblical Rainbow

According to Genesis the rainbow is the physical manifestation of a covenant between Noah and the deity following a flood which all but exterminated life on earth. This covenant signalled that there would be no more floods devised 'to destroy all flesh'.1 In the Wake, however, the rainbow is generally associated with the rainbow-hued flower girls, who are both a reciprocal of Issy, and her playmates. Issy as Nuvoletta, or in Italian the 'little cloud', is also associated with the rainbow girls through biblical allusion, namely the deity's statement that 'when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud'.2 In Joyce's rewriting of the Bible, a sexual interpretation of biblical mythology is brought to the fore, and the flood can be understood metaphorically as the swelling tide of humanity consequent to the sin of sexual reproduction. The rainbow, correspondingly associated with young females, is seen in the clouds that are the ultimate source of the river Liffey, the Wakean river of life. Similar to the biblical event, the flood of life is also an act of vengeance, a conscious act by ALP to avenge HCE. Thus, following the confrontation with the Cad, the 'young reine came down' and the Liffey floods 'as mud as she cud be' (FW 64.16-18), and on one level, ALP's flood is an attempt biologically to reproduce HCE, so that like Horus of Egyptian mythology he might take revenge upon Osiris's usurpers. Paradoxically, in the Wake this vengeance occurs with the full cooperation of the intended victims, and indeed the desire to participate in the sexual reproduction of HCE even anticipates his demise. The Cad has a sexual motivation when he shoots HCE, as he is 'jealous over, Lotta Crabtree or Pomona Evlyn' (FW 62.33-34). Moreover, he declares he would sexually 'shoot her, the aunt, by pistol' (FW 63.3-4) or alternatively, 'bash in Patch's blank face' (FW 63.5).3 In this instance, HCE was apparently enjoying the peace associated with the rainbow girls, for he was there 'in connection with a girls, Myramy Huey or Colores Archer, under Flaggy Bridge (for ann there is but one liv and hir newbridge is her old)' (FW 63.12-14). The flood and associated rainbow of Finnegans Wake thus also accords with the deity's invocation to Noah to 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth'.4 Sexual union and its associated rainbow also marks a reconciliation between mortal and deity in the Wake, as in the following where the 'peace' associated with the biblical rainbow is reiterated in the Wakean sexual 'sinsin' format: 'Not yet his Arcobaleine forespoken Peacepeace upon Oath' (FW 175.16). In the latter, 'Oath' recalls the earth of ALP and the recurring duality of literature and sexual reproduction Joyce explores by punning upon 'piss' and the 'Irish oath' (P 203) toth.

1 Genesis 9.15.

2 Genesis 9.14.

3 The aunt is ALP based upon the supposition that while the Cad is HCE’s son, HCE’s wife is his own sister in an incestuous Shem-HCE/Issy-ALP configuration.

4 Genesis 9.1.