Study Guide

Kew Gardens Snail

By Virginia Woolf

Snail

Finally, we get to our favorite part of the story: the snail. This little guy gets two hefty paragraphs in the story—that's more than some of the characters. So what's significant about him? All he really does is creep through a flower-bed and debate whether he should go under a leaf or over a leaf:

The snail had now considered every possible method of reaching his goal without going round the dead leaf or climbing over it. Let alone the effort needed for climbing a leaf, he was doubtful whether the thin texture which vibrated with such an alarming crackle when touched even by the tip of his horns would bear his weight; and this determined him finally to creep beneath it, for there was a point where the leaf curved high enough from the ground to admit him. (19)

Good decision, Mr. Snail. Passages like these reveal the hidden life of the creatures in the garden. Just as the married man is occupied with his own troubles, so the snail is occupied with his—though no one would notice if Woolf didn't draw our attention to his little plight. Like the other characters, he is isolated in the garden, carrying on by himself even while all this life plays out around him. The snail's journey through the flowerbed is just one activity among the many that make the garden scene so dense with life and complexity. 

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