The Mark on the Wall

by Virginia Woolf
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What does the snail in Virginia Woolf's "The Mark on the Wall" stand for or symbolizes?

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The snail in “The Mark on the Wall” by Virginia Woolf symbolizes reality. It helps the narrator to get back to reality whenever she has dreadful thoughts. The snail, which is the mark on the wall, enables her to stay grounded in reality and be safe from unrealistic...

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The snail in “The Mark on the Wall” by Virginia Woolf symbolizes reality. It helps the narrator to get back to reality whenever she has dreadful thoughts. The snail, which is the mark on the wall, enables her to stay grounded in reality and be safe from unrealistic thoughts. In addition, the snail is a symbol of the narrator’s living habits. She is not a good housekeeper, which explains why the snail is in the house. She justifies her behavior by criticizing the feminine role. Furthermore, the snail symbolizes the connection humanity will always have with nature even at the height of civilization. It reveals that despite building houses and inventing new technologies, which have a detrimental impact on the environment, nature will always find a way to survive.

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In this short story by Woolf,a character, probably a female, is sitting in a chair by the fire and notices a spot on her wall.  She begins a stream of consciousness though pattern about how differently things can be perceived.  The narrator goes back and forth between thoughtful contemplation and the reality of the room she is in.  At the end of the story her thoughts are disrupted by a voice stating that "I am going for a newspaper."  The voices also questions why they should have a snail on their wall.  The snail is the reality.  The spot on the wall is not a nail, or dirt, or any of the images the narrator thoughtfully considers, but a simple snail.

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