jul 13, 2011
“―Pyrrhus, sir? Pyrrhus, a pier.
All laughed. Mirthless high malicious laughter. Armstrong looked round at his classmates,
silly glee in profile. In a moment they will laugh more loudly, aware of my lack of rule and
of the fees their papas pay.
―Tell me now, Stephen said, poking the boy’s shoulder with the book, what is a pier.
―A pier, sir, Armstrong said. A thing out in the water. A kind of a bridge. Kingstown pier,
Some laughed again: mirthless but with meaning. Two in the back bench whispered. Yes.
They knew: had never learned nor ever been innocent. All. With envy he watched their
faces: Edith, Ethel, Gerty, Lily. Their likes: their breaths, too, sweetened with tea and jam,
their bracelets tittering in the struggle.”
In Stephen’s classroom, four girls’ names hint at religion, class, and sex.