ENGL 489: James Joyce

This essay was written on December 12th, 2019 for ENGL 489: James Joyce, taught by Dr. Leah Toth. This essay takes a close look at the paternal themes seen throughout James Joyce’s, “Ulysses.” These father-son relationships are found to be a mix between Stephen Dedalus, Simon Dedalus, and Leopold Bloom. Each character participates in either the father, the son, or both roles to depict paternal themes throughout.

The Attempted Search For Father-Son Relationships Through Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom

The son unborn mars beauty: born, he brings pain, divides affection, increases care. He is a new male: his growth is his father’s decline, his youth his father’s envy, his friends his father’s enemy -Stephen Dedalus, Joyce 170

The 1920’s were a time when it wasn’t socially acceptable to talk about the “taboo.” These unmentioned topics included sex, drugs, women’s sexuality, and anything else that would paint society as a less-than-perfect picture. James Joyce’s Ulysses successfully dove in depth into each of these concepts, granting this book to be one of the most controversial books to have ever been published. As a matter of fact, the book itself was banned in the United States until 1933. Dysfunctional family structures was a topic that also fell under the category of “taboo” for the time. Joyce, in knowing this, develops a theme around the concept of the significance of a father-son relationship throughout Ulysses. 

Whether the experience of being a father has been taken away, being a father is seemingly useless, or there is a lack of a father, the father figure ideal is one that characters in Ulysses are unfortunately unable to obtain. Throughout Ulysses, Joyce uses paternal themes taken from Hamlet and the Odyssey to make a deeper connection within his own characters to further explore their father-son relationships. Each of the different examples will be explored through a close analysis of Simon Dedalus, Stephen Dedalus, as well as Leopold Bloom. In creating these connections, it is understood that Stephen Dedalus is in constant search for a father figure throughout the entirety of the story. Alongside Stephen’s search, Leopold Bloom is in constant search for a relationship that will fill the void that has been created with the loss of his son, Rudy. It will soon be learned that the path Stephen Dedalus is on will eventually cross with the path Leopold Bloom is on. In this crossing, it can be understood that although this was an inevitable occurrence, it did not turn out to be the event that Joyce played it up to be. Joyce uses these instances to downplay the significance of the father-son relationship to prove that his characters are on a path that is motivated by their own individual desires.  

Literature Review

In order to expand my arguments for evidence of the different father-son relationships that are seen throughout Ulysseys, I brought together a combination of my analysis as well as analysis that has been conducted by other scholars as well. William Peery’s knowledge of Hamlet has been useful in understanding correspondences between Joyce’s characters and the characters seen in the Shakespeare play. His knowledge goes beyond just Hamlet and Claudius but has made connections to Stephen Dedalus directly. David Wykes and M. J. Alden both have made connections to Ulysses through The Odyssey. Wykes’ work focuses on a more broad view of how The Odyssey is seen throughout Ulysseys. M.J. Alden has narrowed their focus in looking at the character, Telemachus, and his role in The Odyssey. This essay is a great focal point for this paper because of how influential the “Telemachus” chapter is in understanding Stephen’s role throughout Ulysses as well as understanding his relationship with his father. Trevor L. Williams expands on “Telemachus” from a Ulysses perspective and has analyzed each character from the chapter and their power that they have in comparison to other characters. This analysis is significant because it allows for a better understanding of Stephen which will help in understanding his different relationships that are learned as the book goes on. 

Although Stephen plays a crucial role in understanding the father-son relationships throughout Ulysseys, it is also necessary to analyze Leopold Bloom and the relationships he involved in throughout the story. He plays a big role in understanding father-son relationships that go on within the story. Luca Crispi takes a look at the evolution of Bloom throughout Ulysseys. Understanding Bloom’s evolution is very important in understanding the relationships he has with his peers as it will help to bring understanding to the underlying motives that might be present in Bloom developing these relationships. Taking a deeper look at Bloom’s relationship to Stephen will help support Crispi’s arguments. William S. Brockman also dives deeper in looking at Bloom and expands on a concept called “The New Bloom” within the “Eumaeus” episode of Ulysses. Here, Brockman looks at how Bloom has evolved up to the point of his chapter with Stephen. He not only takes a look at behavioral changes but also how Joyce’s styles of writing and punctuation have changed in order to give Bloom a full transition. All of these different relationships are reflected upon within Jean Kimball’s essay as it expands upon the psychoanalytic context for the paternity themes that are seen within Ulysseys. Her work provides a solid understanding of the relationships each of the male characters share which are then expanded upon in understanding the themes for the father-son relationships. These arguments will be useful as I continue to build and expand upon arguments of my own throughout the rest of this essay. 


It is well known that James Joyce wrote Ulysses to intentionally have correspondence with different Shakespeare works. Hamlet is one play in particular that is crucial in understanding one of the main characters, Stephen Dedalus. Hamlet is a character that suffers from a struggling father-son relationship. As a matter of fact, his father is no longer a figure in his life after his uncle, Claudius, murders him. Claudius became Hamlet’s step-father after he marries Hamlet’s mother. Hamlet refuses to accept Claudius as his new father figure. The only connection Hamlet has with his real father is through visions of a ghost of his father. The relationship between Hamlet and Claudius can be compared to that of Stephen and Simon in that the two refuse to accept each other for the role that they each are supposed to play. “A murderer & a villain…a vice of kings/ A cutpurse of the empire & the rule” (Hamlet. Act 3, scene 4). This shows that Hamlet’s judgement of Claudius, which is less than good. He knows Claudius to be a murder and a villian and refuses to accept him as a father figure. Similarly, Stephen refuses to accept Simon as his actual father figure because of father’s lapse in judgement when it comes to drinking and family involvement. This idea will be expanded upon in another section but it is important to note since Hamlet and Stephen have similar motives in searching for a different father figure.

The next piece of evidence that connects Stephen Dedalus to Hamlet is the absence of a physical father figure. Here is where I would like to build on William Peery’s argument, which is that both Hamlet and Stephen are in search of their spiritual father figure. In his essay, he argues, “Stephen could not call his fleshy father his spiritual father but had to undertake a quest for a spiritual father” (Peery 111). Hamlet refuses to accept Claudius as a father figure in his life, especially because the Ghost of Hamlet’s father is present throughout the play. Hamlet longs for his father which ultimately drives him crazy and motivates him to kill Claudius before he, himself, dies. Due to Simon choosing to be absent in Stephen’s life, he becomes absent from the father figure role that is necessary in having a father-son relationship. This drives Stephen to embark on a search for a father figure in his life because Simon does not fulfill the spiritual role that is necessary in being a true father. 


The first and most notable correspondence to The Odyssey that Joyce used throughout his book was that the theme of each episode was directly corresponded to a scene in The Odyssey. The Ulysses episodes began with “Telemachus” and ended with “Penelope.” Joyce chose to begin the story in the way that he did to set a good foundation for an underlying father-son relationship theme that gets carried out throughout the entirety of the story. David Wykes hypothesizes that these correspondences serve an important purpose which is to retell the story of The Odyssey in a new way. “Ulysses is a straightforward and simplified version of Odysseus’ story” (Wykes 303). I disagree with this statement as the story itself was incredibly loaded with information that was up to the reader to find out. I do, however, believe that Wykes was building upon an idea that Ulysses was a more modern way to tell the Odysseus’ story. The two stories go well together as the themes from The Odyssey act as the missing pieces to the puzzle that are necessary in fully understanding the themes from Ulysses. All in all, Ulysses ultimately does retell Homer’s The Odyssey throughout each different episode within the book. The themes in the book correspond with a scene from the epic poem which gives the story structure in understanding the different events throughout. This is also important because it builds a deeper connection between The Odyssey and Ulysses

Another reason as to why Ulysses is much more complex than a modern telling of The Odyssey is because Joyce uses a concept called the devalued counterpart in order to bring deeper meaning to his characters. A devalued counterpart is a complex concept that is seen throughout Ulysses. The characters from Joyce’s story are able to be directly connected to characters from Homer’s story. These characters, in their human form as seen in Ulysses, are not larger than life. Their value as humans has decreased since becoming part of Joyce’s story. This is seen, for example, within “Nestor.” Mr. Deasy takes the place of Nestor within this chapter. Nestor is understood to be a legendary wise king from The Odyssey. However, within Joyce’s story, Mr. Deasy takes on the role as someone who is wise but certainly does not add up to a legendary king. This concept is difficult to understand and helps support Joyce’s originality and the complexity of Ulysses.

The first episode in the book, again, is “Telemachus.” According to the Stuart Gilbert guide to Ulysses, Stephen Dedalus’ corresponding role is Telemachus. In The Odyssey, Telemachus is Odysseus’ son. Right away, there is a connection to be made as Stephen is the son of Simon Dedalus. With both of these characters taking on the son role, similarities can be drawn between the two of them. This is significant because legacy is a concept that was extremely important in Ancient Greece. M. J. Alden claims that in relation to the Odyssey, “Telemachus can be seen as an embarrassment to the story” (Alden 133). Telemachus is known as a disappointment to his father because he failed to live up to his great legacy. This small statement says a lot, especially in regards to Stephen’s character in Ulysses while also understanding the importance of the role of a son in Ancient Greece. Right away in the “Telemachus” episode, Stephen is made out to be unfavorable by his peers. In the instance where Joyce reveals Stephen’s mother’s dying wish was for Stephen to pray at her side, Buck Mulligan figures out that Stephen did not honor her wish. “You wouldn’t kneel down to pray for your mother on her deathbed when she asked you. Why? Because you have the cursed jesuit strain in you, only it’s injected the wrong way” (Joyce 7. 208-209). This is the first time where Stephen is made out to be an irresponsible and careless character which directly relates him to Telemachus. 

The connection between Stephen and Telemachus is expanded upon and tied between a Shakespeare allusion and a concept displayed by Homer. Paul Schwaber is another scholar who connected Stephen to Shakespeare while analyzing the failed legacy that Telemachus exemplifies. In his book, The Cast of Characters, he directly connects a remark made by Buck Mulligan about Stephen to a Shakespeare allusion. While Buck Mulligan was talking with Haines in “Telemachus” he joked, “It’s quite simple. He proves by algebra that Hamlet’s grandson is Shakespeare’s grandfathers and that he himself is the ghost of his own father” (Joyce 15. 555-557). Schwaber elaborates on the fact that it would be odd for Stephen to have mentioned this to Mulligan before but nonetheless, Joyce intentionally put this in the story to make the direct connection between Stephen and Hamlet. Including this comment made during the “Telemachus” episode helps to support the idea that Stephen is a disappointment as well as an embarrassment which helps to support the connection between Stephen and Telemachus. Having this in the first episode allows for the reader to get a clear idea about Stephen’s role as a son as well as the role that he will take throughout the rest of the book with his peers and those he comes in contact with. 

Stephen Dedalus

The state of being one’s father is a complicated concept in looking at the different roles that are played by Simon and Bloom. They both play a role in being a father-figure to Stephen yet, neither of them completely fill the shoes that are needed to be filled in order to claim one as more “fatherly” over the other. For instance, understanding the groundwork for Simon’s relationship with Stephen is seen right away in the first episode but is also extremely evident within Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Mr Dedalus (Simon) is seen telling Stephen a foul story when Mrs Dedalus chimes in, “Really, Simon, said Mrs Dedalus, you should not speak that way before Stephen. It’s not right” (Joyce 29). For Mrs Dedalus to correct her husband in the way that she is talking to her son is significant, especially because it was not a woman’s place to speak up to her husband in that way during this time. This shows that Simon has no regard or respect for the way that he addresses his son. It is less meaningful to Simon to be a well-spoken respectful man than for him to be a well-respected father. This would give Stephen a fair reason to disregard the father he already has and motivate him to search for a different fatherly figure. 

The motives for understanding why Stephen is in constant search for a father figure are clear when understanding the themes presented through Hamlet and The Odyssey. These themes explore the importance of father-son relationships due to the importance of a son carrying on the legacy of his father. These themes carry into Ulysses and the themes that are presented throughout. The theme of the episode, “Nestor,” encaptures the idea of the search for a father figure. Within this chapter, Stephen realizes that he is in need of someone to guide him as he converses with Mr. Deasy. “A learner rather, Stephen said.” Mr. Deasy responds to this by saying, “To learn one must be humble. But life is the great teacher” (Joyce 29. 406-407). This advice given by Mr. Deasy is significant as he is telling Stephen to instill trust within life and life’s experiences yet, Stephen is still on a desperate search for an ideal father figure. Stephen, in admitting that he is a learner, is naive in his ability to learn. He refuses to accept that he is able to carry on with life as his guide but is rather dead-set on the idea of a physical father figure being present. 

Lack of religious faith may be another reason as to why Stephen is in search of a father figure in his life. Many people rely heavily on religion to guide them through life, especially during difficult times. As we learn that Stephen is struggling with his own life, it can be assumed that he is looking for something to lean on through his hardships. Within “Proteus,” it becomes clear that Stephen, although constantly commenting on religion, does not take part in having religious beliefs. He is seen commenting on religion when he says, “God becomes man becomes fish becomes barnacle goose becomes featherbed” (Joyce 41-42. 487-489). These comments he makes read almost sarcastically as he goes on throughout the chapter. These comments in themselves are not significant but it is important that it can be understood that since Stephen is unable to stop making these remarks about religion, it makes it obvious that he is struggling internally with not having it to rely on during his hardships. Since he refuses to have faith in religion, he becomes even more motivated to find a father figure that he can then rely and count on instead. Although not obvious, this evidence combined helps to prove that Stephen is on a search for the father figure that Simon is unable to be.

Simon Dedalus

By now, it is obvious that Simon and Stephen Dedalus do not have the ideal father-son relationship. Although there is something to be said about Simon being Stephen’s biological father, there is much to argue beyond that. The first pieces of evidence of Simon being a poor example of a father figure to Stephen are seen within Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young man. Within this story, it is learned that Simon Dedalus is an alcoholic. Because of this, Simon is absent from Stephens life. A song that Simon sings foreshadows the relationships that the two will have in the future. “Tis youth and folly/ Makes young men marry,/ So here, my love, I’ll/ No longer stay./ What can’t be cured, sure,/ Must be injured, sure,/ So I’ll go to/ Amerikay” (Joyce 84-85). This song foreshadows the relationship that Simon and Stephen will continue to have throughout the rest of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and throughout Ulysses, especially in the lines “I’ll no longer stay” and “So, I’ll go.” This is exactly what Simon does, he basically leaves Stephen to live a life without a father figure. The admitted absence in his son’s life drives Stephen to set out on a quest to find a father figure, leaving behind any potential possibilities for a relationship with Simon. 

 Simon very clearly plays the role of an absent father figure within Stephen’s life. But this does not mean that Simon is completely gone. There are a few instances throughout Ulysses where Simon sees or thinks about Stephen but those thoughts are never acted upon, at least not in a fatherly way. A good example of the lack of a relationship between Stephen and Simon is seen within the “Hades” episode. As Simon, Bloom, Mr. Powers, and Mr. Cunningham are on their way to the funeral, they pass Stephen. Bloom points this out but Simon only makes a snarky remark about where Stephen might possibly be headed. “Down with his aunt Sally, I suppose, Mr Dedalus said, the Goulding faction, the drunken little costdrawer and Crissie, papa’s little lump of dung, the wise child that knows her own father” (Joyce 73. 51-53). There is a clear disconnect between Simon and his son as he doesn’t give any interest in where Stephen might be headed. There is absolutely no regard for his safety. The last statement within the quote also speaks volumes for how Simon feels about his personal relationship with Stephen. “The wise child that knows her own father” (Joyce 73. 53). Simon said this as if the implications of Sally having a relationship with her own father has negatively influenced who she is. Simon is sour to the idea of anyone having a healthy relationship with their father which could potentially be the motive for the lack of effort coming from Simon with Stephen. If this is how Simon views father-son relationships, then it can be logically understood as to why he wouldn’t be interested in maintaining one of his own. 

Expanding upon how Simon has failed to be a father figure to Stephen helps bring understanding to why Stephen is on a constant search for a father-son relationship. A theme that often occurs in stories about father-son relationships is the idea that it is destiny that a son is going to become his father. This theme can be expanded upon in learning that Simon is a drunk which was first discovered in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and carried into Ulysses. It is also known that Stephen relies on alcohol to cope with the life that he has which inevitably draws similarities between him and his father. “Stephen, that is when the accosting figure came to close quarters, though he was not in an over sober state himself recognised Corley’s breath redolent of rotten cornjuice” (Joyce 504. 128-130). This part in “Eumaeus” points to a time when Stephen was admittedly drunk, just like his father usually is. This underlying theme may not be obvious to Stephen but he still strives to do all that he can to be as different from his father as he can. This ultimately puts him with more similarities than differences with Simon. 

Leopold Bloom

Bloom is a lost soul in search of the father-son relationship that was taken away from him. It is important to note before his analysis of his quest for a father-son relationship that Bloom is still a quality and present father figure to his daughter, Milly. “Ithaca” provides many reflective examples of how Bloom has been a good father to Milly throughout her life because he has helped to provide her with the tools she needs to be successful. One example that stands out is owl clock that Bloom gifts Molly. He chose this particular gift because he believed it would not only please her, but it would also teach her different skills. “As object lessons to explain: 1) the nature and habits of oviparous animals, the possibility of aerial flight, certain abnormalities of vision, the secular process of imbalasamation…” (Joyce 569. 911-913). He explains that this clock would first teach her about the importance of animals, especially those who fly and even more specifically owls. He believed that this clock would open her mind to learning more about owls and other traits that come with them. Bloom intentionally gifted her a clock that would teach her many different things because he found her ability to learn and understand many aspects of the world important. He wanted to persuade her to become interested in many different things and to become passionate about learning. This is significant because it shows how much he deeply cared about her success in the world. 

It is important not to discredit Bloom as a father but focus on how he is looking to fill the void in his life that came when he lost his son, Rudy. As mentioned previously within the paper, Joyce plays with paternal roles, more specifically those that amuse father-son relationships which are supported through the different correspondences. Looking more in depth at the relationship between Bloom, Molly, and Milly and their respective dynamics but for the purpose of this paper, Bloom’s search for a son-figure will remain the main focus from here.

Valuable information about Bloom is discovered in the “Hades” episode. Here, it is learned that Bloom is longing for the father-son connection that he once had but was abruptly taken away from him. It is learned that Bloom is envious of Simon and Stephen because both of them are still alive. After having listened to Simon speak poorly about Stephen, Bloom reflects on what life might have been like if his son, Rudy, would still be alive today. 

Noisy selfwilled man. Full of his son. He is right. Something to hand on. If little Rudy had lived. See him grow up. Hear his voice in the house. Walking beside Molly in an Eton suit. My son. Me in his eyes. Strange feeling it would be. From me. Just a chance (Joyce 73).

This reflection of what life could have been life was triggered by Simon’s selfish remarks towards Stephen. These remarks are selfish in the sense that they are naive to Bloom’s situation. Bloom understands that Simon and Stephen have failed to develop the father-son relationship that he has always longed for. He becomes angry and jealous at their failed relationship because he knows that that relationship with Rudy would have always been important to him and not wasted. He believes that Simon and Stephen are missing out on having a bond with each other because neither of them understand the implications that come with losing one another. Bloom wishes that they understood but he is only able to really focus on the relationship that he could have had with his late son.

Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus

The crossing of paths between Bloom and Stephen was inevitable from the start of the story. Joyce toys with the reader in anticipating a great connection to be made between these two lost characters. He sets this up to be the perfect scenario: Stephen is looking for a father-figure that will guide him through life while Bloom is looking for a son-figure to fill the void that was created when Rudy died. The two characters uniting was anticipated to be significant but in actuality, was less than climatic.

The father-son relationship between Stephen and Bloom is knowingly unachieved after analyzing their individual traits. One significant instance, however, might point the reader to believe that this relationship should work. This is seen in the final lines of “Circe.” Rudy reveals himself when Bloom is standing over Stephen after he becomes unconscious. “Rudy: (gazes, unseeing, into Bloom’s eyes and goes on reading, kissing, smiling)” (Joyce 497. 4964-4965). This scene can be interpreted at a blessing. Rudy could potentially be giving Bloom is blessing to use Stephen as a son-figure with him being gone. The contentment that is seen on Rudy’s face shows that he approves of Stephen. This significant event would give readers a reason to believe that Stephen is the perfect fit for Bloom. Unfortunately however, further evidence will support otherwise. 

In understanding this inevitable flop, it must first be noted that Stephen, although on his own self motivated quest, is emotionally unavailable anyways. This can be seen in the beginning lines of “Eumaeus” after the coming together of Stephen and Bloom. “His (Stephen’s) mind was not exactly what you would call wandering but a bit unsteady and on his expressed desire for some beverage to drink” (Joyce 501. 4-5). This is just one example of how Stephen is too involved in his own inner mechanisms that he is unavailable to be in company with Bloom. Stephen is too fixated on wanting something to drink even though he was just unconscious. This, in itself, speaks upon the fact that Stephen is too involved in his own mind to acknowledge the company that is right in front of him. It would be almost impossible for Stephen to maintain such a relationship with Bloom if he is unable to reach his own emotions. Stephen, due to his emotional unavailability, would fail to recognize that there is a father figure before him because he is too caught up in his own thoughts. 

Stephen is not alone in living inside his own mind. Bloom also falls victim to living within his own thoughts. As the events in “Eumaeus” are taking place, it is evident throughout that Bloom is absent minded. There are many times when he is seen wandering through his own thoughts and becoming distracted from the situations that are directly in front of him. 

Mr Bloom, so far as he was personally concerned, was just pondering in pensive mood. He vividly recollected when the occurrence alluded to took place as well as yesterday, roughly some years previously in the days of the land troubles, when it took the civilised world by storm, figuratively speaking, early in the eighties, eightyone to be correct, when he was just turned fifteen (Joyce 514. 603-608)

This is another example of Bloom’s stream of consciousness pulling him away from reality. Bloom is seen throughout the novel reflecting upon his past. It seems as though he is unable to face the present because he is overcome with sadness when the reality of his emotions hit. Rudy’s loss took such a toll on Bloom that he is unable to live in present day life but rather lives within his past inside of his own mind. This makes him emotionally unavailable to start a father-son relationship with Stephen. This is especially so because it is clear that he is unable to move on from his original father-son relationship and will never find satisfaction in any son other than Rudy. 

In further understanding why Stephen and Bloom coming together was inevitable but still flopped, Richard M. Kain offers an argument that explains why the two ended up coming together. Kain explains that the reader gives meaning to the two coming together when there is not much significance to the event. 

On the literal level of the text, no meaningful outcome of the meeting seems probable. Stephen and Bloom are separated by gulfs of temperament, of race, education, and experience. Their past contacts have been few, and accidental, their points of agreement minimal (Kain 147). 

Kains argument shows that the meeting between Stephen and Bloom was unintentional and has no significant meaning in the relationship between the two. I do agree that the paths that Stephen and Bloom are on are very different from one another which deters any opportunity for them to share a relationship, especially one that is as significant as a father-son relationship should be. I do disagree with Kain in him stating that the two characters coming together was unintentional but rather coincidental. I believe that Joyce intentionally brought the two characters together for reasons other than to satisfy a father-son relationship. The coming together of the two brought a deeper understanding of the characters. It allows the characteristics of each character to be understood in why the relationship will never be satisfied between the two. Although there are aspects of both characters that would lead the reader to believe that this relationship would work, it was important for Joyce to allow the reader to find that out on their own by bringing the two characters together. 


The desperate search for father-son relationships, whether that is Stephen finding the ideal father figure, or Bloom finding the ideal son, remains an unfinished quest as Ulysses comes to a close. Joyce led his readers to believe that through Stephen’s struggling relationship with his father, his struggle to find reliance on something other than religion, and his destiny to find a guide within life would become successful in Leopold Bloom. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Similarly, Joyce led Bloom’s destiny to find a son-figure after the loss of Rudy to also fail when connecting with Stephen. The grand crossing of paths only made the characters and readers come to realize that there is much more to life than just filling in the missing pieces to the puzzle. Joyce chose to have Stephen’s and Bloom’s relationship not work out because Joyce wasn’t aiming for the fairytale ending. In having their relationship play out in the ways that it did, it brought significance to the idea that not everything in life will be perfect, nor will it be easy. The idea that the key to happiness comes with filling the holes in your life with less than ideal people is inaccurate. This is seen through Stephen and Bloom. Throughout the book, the two seem to be almost perfect for each other. Stephen, a son on a quest for a father coming together with Bloom, a father on the quest for a son would presumably be the perfect ending. Once the two came together, it became evident that the personalities of Stephen and Bloom would make for a disastrous father-son relationship. Both selfish in thought, the two don’t leave room for the care or concern for the other. This leaves reason to believe that the quest that both Stephen and Bloom were on in finding the perfect father-son relationship was selfish in that it would magically fix the void in their lives. Both characters need to work on themselves and fixing the relationships they still have in their lives instead of relying on finding the missing relationships to fix it for them.  

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