A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Part 1, Section 4 (pg. 39-61)
Back at Clonglowes again, Stephen is in a hushed discussion with some of his classmates about several other students who were caught doing something, though no one is quite sure what it is they've done. One student says he heard the boys stole some money from the rector's office. Then Wells, the bully who pushed Stephen into a ditch, says that they were caught sneaking wine from the church. Stephen, who is quiet through this interchange, is shocked that the students would even think to do such a horrible thing.
The boys on the schoolyard look smaller to Stephen because yesterday a boy on a bike knocked him over and broke his glasses. As Stephen listens, his ears even more attentive than usual because his eyes aren't working so well, Athy speaks out and says he knows what the boys were caught doing. It was smugging, Athy says, and a heavy silence settles over the group. Stephen doesn't know what smugging is (it's a sexual act involving the hands between two boys) and he instead starts thinking about the boys who were allegedly involved, among them Simon Moonan and Tusker Boyle, called Lady Boyle by the boys because he is so attentive to his fingernails. This thought leads Stephen's mind to Eileen a young Protestant girl who lives down the street, and her hands. They are like ivory, only soft, Stephen thinks. He thinks of the religious phrases "Tower of Ivory" and "House of Gold," and associates the ivory with Eileen's fingers and the gold with her hair. For Stephen at this age, interpreting most everything as it relates to his own experiences makes a lot of sense. "By thinking of things you could understand them." Part 1, pg. 43
The silence of the boys on the topic of smugging begins to make Stephen afraid, but soon they start talking about the punishment those four boys and all the boys of the school will have to suffer. The noise of the cricket bats on the field gets Stephen thinking about the pandybat that the school officials use to hit the boys as punishment for any number of offenses. The students are called into class, and Stephen is still thinking about the crime committed by the boys, and what a horrible crime it is if they did steal something from the church.
Father Arnall comes in to give the Latin lesson, and he's furious because the boys did a lousy job on their homework. He gets angrier when no one can answer a grammatical question he asks. Arnall orders Fleming, the boy who did the worst job on his homework, to kneel in the middle of the classroom. Then in comes the prefect of studies, and he gives a terrifying whack of the pandybat on a desk. He proceeds to flog Fleming six times on each hand, a vicious action that reduces the other boys to terrified silence. Then the prefect notices Stephen is not writing like the other boys and demands to know why. Stephen has been excused from the lesson by Father Arnall because his glasses are broken, but the prefect refuses to believe that this isn't all some schoolboy trick. Stephen gets his first cracks with the pandybat, and his body reacts by shaking in shame and fear and rage. The prefect leaves, saying he'll be back tomorrow, and Stephen, trying to hold back tears, can only think of how unfair it is that Arnall said nothing to stop the beating, even though Stephen didn't deserve it.
Afterwards, the boys, knowing Stephen was wronged, encourage him to go to the rector and complain before the prefect can come back tomorrow. Stephen, who has been told by his own father to never "peach on a fellow" is torn. He thinks he might get himself in worse trouble by complaining but he just can't get over how unfairly he's been treated. As the boys leave the dining hall, Stephen ducks out of line and climbs the stairs to the rector's office, and he can feel all the eyes of the boys upon him. He explains the situation to the rector, who is kind and says he will clarify everything with the prefect.
When Stephen returns to the boys and explains what happened he gets a hero's response. They hoist him up in the air and cheer. Stephen is thrilled, though he thinks that he will not be smug with the prefect, he will stay "quiet and obedient" (pg. 61).
The section ends with a report on the smell, feel, look, and sound of the evening.