When Mulligan says that “The unclean bard makes a point of washing once a month,” he is being generous. Stephen has not had a bath for eight months. in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man we learn that a very young boy Stephen was pushed by an older boy into “the square ditch,” a cesspool used as a privy used by the boys in the dormitory. The water was “cold and slimy.” Another boy “had once seen a big rat jump into the scum,” and Stephen is sent to the infirmary with a severe infection that makes him wonder whether he will live. Even as an adult he still fears the water.