Stephen thinks of his mother's "shapely fingernails reddened by the blood of squashed lice from the children's shirts." In response, Gifford notes that head lice infestation was chronic among Dublin’s poor. The John Joyce family’s periodic moves northward, from the comfortable suburbs south of Dublin into poorer and poorer neighborhoods, landed them at last in the midst of this urban plague.

JH 2011

Woman removing lice from head of young man. Source: odkrywcy.pl.