9.9 Freeing of the Female
ALP's desire for the dead or dormant HCE, however, contrasts with the vibrant sexual enthusiasm of Issy. ALP's ideology is depicted in Book III.4 as belonging to a previous age and she is refused legal equality with a male counterpart on the grounds that she was born into serfdom (see above,*). Accordingly, while a number of critics have focussed upon ALP's departing soliloquy in a positive light,22 the present study argues that she is akin to Stephen's mother in her association with the deity, and a Kate figure whose ideology is overturned by the avant-garde artist. While she is a May Dedalus figure as Margot Norris points out,23 instead of a mother Stephen rediscovers, in Book IV she is again of necessity relinquished by her children. As such she is another version of the grandmother buried by the fox in Stephen's riddle in Nestor. ALP has to be buried to free the living from the repressive ideology underpinning the reproduction of HCE, for in one sense, as Beatrice Faust points out, 'the sexual mores that have caused such distress since the late nineteenth century are not patriarchal but matriarchal'.24 As an ideological possession of the deity, she returns to that deity, and in a negative sense she is reunited with what she desires. Religion, including Shem's inverted theology, is contained within a mother who is 'dumb' with her subservience to the creative patriarchy: 'the engine of the load with haled morries full of crates, you mattinmummer, for dombell dumbs?' (FW 604.10-11). In contrast to the narrative account of ALP's departure, an appreciation of Issy in Book IV and her continuation of female life must largely be inferred from her absence in the text. What is apparent, however, is that where ALP has regard for the taboos of the deity, Issy conversely has disregard.
The undefined Issy of Book IV in some respects resembles a young Nora able to free herself from traditional Irish catholic values sufficiently to elope with Joyce. She is the reciprocal of the religiously conservative figure of May Dedalus, the latter echoed in the dying ALP's subservience to the irrational terror of the deity. Issy like Nora is willing to make an 'undesirable' match outside marriage to the social outsider or the 'runaway', and ALP is accordingly concerned for Issy's 'matcher's wit': 'But her, you wait. Eager to choose is left to her shade. If she had only more matcher's wit. Findlings makes runaways, runaways a stray. She's as merry as the gricks still' (FW 620.28-30). The potential freedom of the female in the Wake may be linked to Issy's preparedness to reject a marriage to the HCE figure, the older, established man who is a centre of both social power and traditional values, and instead engage in free love. In Book IV, both Issy and the twins are outside the value system associated with the departing ALP; their self-preoccupation which she scorns as 'greedy gushes out through their small souls' (FW 627.19) is the very ego realisation Joyce would stress in his realisation of himself as an artist (see above,*). The freedom of HCE's descendants, however, is consequent to his demise, and as a fertility-related deity akin to Osiris, he provides the physical and cultural detriment upon which living society feeds: 'Good wheat! How delitious for the three Sulvans of Dulkey and what a sellpriceget the two Peris of Monacheena! Sugars of lead for the chloras ashpots! Peace!' (FW 616.10-12). With the death of HCE, the contractually bound wife and signifier is also free: 'Isn't it great he is swaying above us for his own good and ours. Fly your balloons, dannies and dennises! He's doorknobs dead! And Annie Delap is free! Ones more' (FW 377.36-378.2). However, enslaved by her ideology and defined by her opposite, she refuses like Ann Hathaway to divorce her dead husband.
In Book IV all necessary preparations are made for HCE's return. Shaun on the one hand prepares to deliver the biological letter, while Shem elucidates the cultural letter and the sexual rainbow motif. As Kevin, Shaun 'exorcised his holy sister water' (FW 605.36-606.1) and conducts 'the primal sacrament of baptism or the regeneration of all man by affusion with water. Yee' (FW 606.10-12), an activity alluding both to sexual union and the infusion of tea, a motif consistently used to denote sexual union. The overt emphasis in Kevin's ritual sexual baptism, however, is placed upon Issy remaining 'perpetually chaste' (FW 606.1), the validity of which recalls Stephen's similarly misleading status in Ulysses as 'ever virgin'. The sexual act is central to the reproduction of the deity, and Kevin's paradoxical dogma of chastity is reversed by Patrick's contrary doctrine of the rainbow; where Shaun covertly engages as Father Michael in the sexual act, however, Shem does not and remains outside the biological sphere of reproduction. Consistent with his doctrine of colour and sexual union, Shem's production of the cultural letter, blowing his nose upon a green handkerchief in the Balkelly/Patrick confrontation, resembles HCE's fecal miracle and yet he is excluded from participating in sexual reproduction. A similar bifurcation exists in the approach to sexuality contained in the feminine duality of the Wake, for instance, in the reference to 'Queer Mrs Quickenough and odd Miss Doddpebble' (FW 620.19-20). The paradoxical relationship between the characters' ideological disposition toward sexual union and actual physical sexuality is shown below:
With both biological and cultural letters complete, HCE is expected to rise in a coloured picture: 'Feist of Taborneccles, scenopegia, come! Shamwork, be in our scheining! And let every crisscouple be so crosscomplimentary, little eggons, youlk and meelk, in a farbiger pancosmos' (FW 613.9-12). Yet, HCE's silence indicates that despite the repeated claims surrounding his ability to 'hear' from the spiritual world he is actually deaf to the repeated entreaties for his return. If HCE's resurrection is dependent upon the reunion of the biological and cultural letters, his fall is conversely a function of their separation; consequent to his fall he is denied access to the females which will ensure his biological escape, and accordingly his escape must be effected through the cultural letter. Similar to Stephen's suspicions concerning the Virgin Mary's role in validating Christ's immaculate conception (see above,*), the genuineness of HCE's spiritual immortality and resurrection is also suspect: 'he conjured himself from sleight by slide at hand' (FW 595.36-596.1), and; 'Ruse made him worthily achieve inherited wish' (FW 596.34-35). HCE's omnipotence is similarly suspect. Despite the narrator demands punishment for the riotous sexual freedom which occurs in Book IV, HCE's authority, physical or spiritual, is entirely lacking:
Greanteavvents! Hyacinssies with heliotrollops! Not once fullvixen freakings and but dubbledecoys! It is a lable iction on the porte of the cuthulic church and summum most atole for it. Where is that blinketey blanketer, that quound of a pealer, the sunt of a hunt whant foxes good men! Where or he, our loved among many? (FW 603.28-33)
With free love and the use of the condom, Issy's incredulous perplexity concerning the painful cycle of biological reproduction can be eased, and the various feminine 'why?' statements of the Wake, 'Whyfor we go ringing hands in hands in gyrogyrorondo' (FW 239.26-27), can be at least partially answered. Potentially, free love breaks down the exclusiveness of sexual relations based upon social approval which traditionally inclines males toward violent competition and objectifies women as sexual possessions.
22 For instance, see the conclusions of both Kimberly Devlin's, Wandering and Return in Finnegans Wake: An Integrative Approach to Joyce's Fictions (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991) and Suzette A. Henke's, James Joyce and the Politics of Desire.
23 'The Last Chapter of "Finnegans Wake": Stephen Finds his Mother', James Joyce Quarterly, 25 (1987), 11-30 (p. 26).
24 Beatrice Faust, Apprenticeship in Liberty: Sex, Feminism and Sociobiology (North Ryde, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1991), p. 357.