Squashed snail

The paternal empathy that leads Stephen to think of Sargent being as vulnerable as a snail—"But for her the race of the world would have trampled him underfoot, a squashed boneless snail"—may have a literary antecedent. In Thomas Hardy's The Dynasts (1904), the Chorus of Years speaks of the two armies camped before the battle of Waterloo: "The snail draws in at the terrible tread, / But in vain; he is crushed by the felloe-rim."

John Hunt 2012

Source: snailimages.com.