Study Guide

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock Stanza XI

By T.S. Eliot

Stanza XI

Lines 73-74

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

  • Here’s another image from way out of left field. It might also be the most accurate self-evaluation that Prufrock offers in the entire poem.
  • It would have been more fitting, he says, to have been born as a pair of crab claws that "scuttle" across the floor of the ocean.
  • The crab is the perfect image of Prufrock, because it seems suited to a single over-riding goal: self-protection.