The action has shifted again and Stephen is now walking on the mud flats. He closes his eyes to consider perceptions without sight and only hearing sounds. On opening his eyes, he sees two midwives and thinks of his birth and his father. He remembers the letter that Deasy wants publishing and switches to think about his Aunt Sara and whether to visit her or not. He thinks of going there and how his Uncle Richie is in bed ill.
Stephen realizes he has passed the way to his aunts house whilst thinking of it. He then remembers the time he spent in Paris and the telegram his father sent him to tell him his mother was dying. He then remembers dining with Kevin Egan. He glimpses a man and woman with a dog on the beach who are cockle picking and his thought turn to a dream (which is referred to intermittently throughout the novel) where he is on a street of harlots. He also remembers being offered a melon by a man, and is led over a red carpet.
He has a desire to write as he watches the couple, who are gypsies, and tears off the end of Deasys letter to make notes on it. References are made to a drowned man and connections are made with Hamlet once more. This episode finishes with Stephen looking for a handkerchief, not finding it because Mulligan has borrowed it, and so wipes his snot on a rock.
This episode focuses on Stephens thought processes as he walks along the beach and sees two cockle pickers. In The Odyssey, Proteus signifies the god of the sea who can take on different shapes. This may be related loosely to Stephens shifting thought patterns. The interior monologues, which use the stream of consciousness effect, exemplify the way thoughts shift from one seemingly unconnected point to another and also typify a modernist style.
It is here that Stephen remembers a dream, of a street of harlots, a man offering him a melon and being led over a red carpet, and symbolically these are prophetic points when Stephen encounter Bloom in night-town later in the novel.