Moths and Snails and Slugs

I recently critiqued the writing style in Swamplandia!; however, there was at least one passage that had a lasting impact on me:

“Outside our porch had become a cauldron of pale brown moths and the bigger ivory moths with sapphire-tipped wings, a sky-flood of them. They entered a large rip in our screen. They had fixed wings like sharp little bones, these moths, and it was astonishingly sad when you accidentally killed one.” – pg. 41

It is not the most direct association, but I feel the same overwhelming sadness when I accidentally step on a snail. The snails come out on the sidewalk right after a storm, when the concrete is still moist and they leave silvery trails behind them, and if you are not careful – and sometimes even if you are – you will step on them. They pop, mixing tiny shards with the goop of their ruined bodies.

But perhaps I am overreacting, becoming overwrought with emotion. Is it a personal defect? Evil would think so.

Time Bandits, Evil
“Slugs! He created slugs!”

I would assume he has the same opinion of snails as slugs, so in that case, what is the value of a snail? According to Evil, not much: “They can’t hear. They can’t speak. They can’t operate machinery.”


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