Nestor p. 0009
[cf. Gabler 20: 27-34; 1922 24:28 – 25:7]
It’s possible to read Armstrong’s “pier” answer as a joke, but I prefer to think the boy is just dense, and his fellows are laughing at him more than with him.
Stephen, to his credit, tries to turn the gaffe into a teaching moment, asking Armstrong to explain the word pier. Armstrong, unable to do so satisfactorily, offers an example: the nearby Kingstown Pier:
This pier has appeared (ahem) in “Calypso” and it will show up now and then in Ulysses, always suggested as a place for flirtatious, if not lascivious, behavior; hence the lack of innocence Stephen perceives in the class’s laughter. Stephen’s consciousness and growing resentment of his students’ privilege seems to take in their economic stature and their precocious worldliness.