Insult of the Week: “the big slobbering washing-pot head of him”

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In chapter two of  Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), Cranly and Stephen discuss the latter’s plans for the future. During their exchange, Cranly recalls Stephen’s wrangling with a school acquaintance about the shortest way from  the Sallygap to Larras.

Image from page 182 of With the children on Sundays through eye-gate and ear-gate into the city of child soul (1911)
Image from Internet Archive – page 182 of “With the children on Sundays, through eye-gate, and ear-gate into the city of child-soul” (1911). 

A voice spoke softly to Stephen’s lonely heart, bidding him go and telling him that his friendship was coming to an end. Yes; he would go. He could not strive against another. He knew his part.

—Probably I shall go away, he said.

—Where? Cranly asked.

—Where I can, Stephen said.

—Yes, Cranly said. It might be difficult for you to live here now. But is it that makes you go?

—I have to go, Stephen answered.

—Because, Cranly continued, you need not look upon yourself as driven away if you do not wish to go or as a heretic or an outlaw. There are many good believers who think as you do. Would that surprise you? The church is not the stone building nor even the clergy and their dogmas. It is the whole mass of those born into it. I don’t know what you wish to do in life. Is it what you told me the night we were standing outside Harcourt Street station?

—Yes, Stephen said, smiling in spite of himself at Cranly’s way of remembering thoughts in connexion with places. The night you spent half an hour wrangling with Doherty about the shortest way from Sallygap to Larras.

Pothead! Cranly said with calm contempt. What does he know about the way from Sallygap to Larras? Or what does he know about anything for that matter? And the big slobbering washing-pot head of him!

He broke into a loud long laugh.

 

 

 

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