Squashed snail

In Brief

The paternal empathy that leads Stephen to think of Sargent being as vulnerable as a snail—"But for her the race of the world would have trampled him underfoot, a squashed boneless snail"—may have a literary antecedent. In Thomas Hardy's The Dynasts (1904), the Chorus of Years speaks of the two armies camped before the battle of Waterloo: ""The snail draws in at the terrible tread, / But in vain; he is crushed by the felloe-rim."

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Robert Spoo quotes Hardy's lines in the context of the analogy he sees Joyce making between Deasy's school and the political system that sent young men off to die in World War I, "For Stephen must order the boy, whose name is Sargent, out into the fray at Deasy's command" (145).

JH 2012
Source: snailimages.com.