The phrase (marked-up below in bold) is from the following extract from the novel "Call me by your name".

"It might have started right there and then: the shirt, the rolled-up sleeves, the rounded balls of his heels slipping in and out of his frayed espadrilles, eager to test the hot gravel path that led to our house, every stride already asking, which way to the beach?"

My own guess being it portrays the round shape of the socks piled up on his heels, as his feet slipped in and out of the espadrilles?

  • I would be careful of this one: "round heels" has a pejorative connotation. – Cascabel Jan 1 '18 at 23:27
  • My first time seeing this usage hence asking. – Daisy Yang Jan 1 '18 at 23:31
  • It's just saying that the way the heels of his feet slide in and out of those slippers causes one to focus on his round heels. – Hot Licks Jan 1 '18 at 23:47

I suspect this refers to the shape of his bare feet -- the rounded back part of the back of the bottom of the foot. Unlikely to be wearing socks with that kind of shoe.


If the text simply stated that "his heels were slipping in and out", it suggests movement of the shoe on his foot. Revealing at least part of the heel, but not necessarily the entire heel of the foot.

By adding "rounded balls of his heels", it adds an additional image, which suggests you the movement of the shoe was great enough you could see the entirety of the back of his foot.

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