Malgudi Days: Missing Mail

‘No prize yet,’ he announced to him every day. ‘But don’t be disheartened.’ ‘Your interest has been delayed this month somehow,’ he said to another. ‘Your son at Hyderabad has written again, madam. How many children has he now?’ ‘I did not know that you had applied for this Madras job; you haven’t cared to tell me!’

Narayan, R K. Malgudi Days. Edison, NJ: Vista India, 2005. Print

Narayan establishes the setting by naming the streets and stops on Thanappa’s mail route. Through snippets of Thanappa’s dialogue, Narayan offers the reader insight on the kind of relationships Thanappa has with others and the type of people that live there.

Nightwood// Historical Timeline

“Nora robbed herself for everyone; incapable of giving herself warning, she was continually turning about to find herself diminished. Wandering people the world over found her profitable in that she could be sold for a price forever, for she carried her betrayal money in her own pocket”

Barnes, Djuna, and T. S. Eliot. Nightwood. New York: New Directions, 1961. Print. 56.

Nora was a victim of her own passions and could be easily be used by those she loved. Her own self “diminished” through her tendency to give all of herself to others. The concept of offering oneself to others or being utilized by others to the extent of losing part of oneself is a common theme in the books we have read. In Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, when Janie is married to Jody, he controls her actions and at times denies her a voice by speaking for her. Through her love for him, she remains in the restrictive relationship, which diminishes part of Janie before she eventually speaks up for herself. In Anand’s Untouchable, Bakha experiences the same kind of diminishing of himself, though not through love or passion. He is however diminished by others’ utilization of him, since he the lowest of the lower-caste Indians and his actions are dictated by others. Clarissa, in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, spends the length of the novel planning a party to please other people and is a character whose actions cater to what she thinks others expect of her. In Henry James’s The Beast in the Jungle, Marcher is a victim of his own passion for the unknown. His entire life is dedicated to his fear of the unknown, and consequently, part of himself is diminished.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Yo’ Nanny wouldn’t harm a hair uh yo’ head. She don’t want nobody else to do it neither if she kin help it. Honey, de white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find out. Maybe it’s some place way off in de ocean where de black man is in power, but we don’t know nothin’ but what we see. So de white man throw down de load and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don’t tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see. Ah been prayin’ fuh it tuh be different wid you.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013. p. 13

Complex ideas in simplified language. Nanny expresses a deep understanding of the social hierarchy and hers and Janie’s position on it. Nanny and Janie are below black men who are below white people. Emphasis on “seeing”: Nanny has witnessed only whites in power and black women as the mules of the world and expresses that she only knows what she sees. She’s aware that her experience is specific to the social system she and Janie are currently in and does not deny the possibility of a social system in which blacks or black women specifically have some power, further expressed in “Ah been prayin’ fuh it tuh be different wid you.”

Untouchable

“For though he considered them his inferiors since he came back with sharpened wits from the British barracks, he still recognised them as his neighbors, the intimates with whose lives, whose thoughts, whose feelings he had to make a compromise. He didn’t expect them to be formal. And as he stood for a while among them, he became a part of a strange, brooding, mysterious crowd that was seeking the warmth of the sun. One didn’t need to employ a courtesy, a greeting to become part of this gathering as one does in the word where there is plenty of light and happiness. For in the lives of this riff-raff, this scum of the earth, these dregs of humanity, only silence, grim silence of death fighting for life prevailed.”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. (New York: Penguin Books, 1940). 36.

Bakha’s exposure to the Tommies as a sweeper of their barracks is enough for Bakha to view himself as superior to his neighbors. There is a noticeable hierarchy within this lower class. Bakha’s view, however, seems contradictory: while he is superior to his neighbors, he is also part of them. Through shared experience, all basking in the warmth of the sun on one level and all experiencing “the lives of the riff-raff, this scum of the earth, these dregs of humanity” on another level, Bakha was equal to them. 

As I Lay Dying

“And so it was because I could not help it. It was then, and then I saw Darl and he knew. He said he knew without the words like he told me that ma is going to die without words, and I knew he knew because if he had said he knew with the words I would not have believed that he had been there and saw us. But he said he did know and I said “Are you going to tell pa are you going to kill him?” without the words I said it and he said “Why?” without the words. And that’s why I can talk to him with knowing with hating because he knows.”

William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (New York: Vintage International, 1985), 27.

Dewy Dell assumes that Darl knows Lafe picked into her sack because he said it “without words.” Telepathy is used as they communicate “without words.” There’s a sense of confidentiality and understanding, however Dewey Dell talks to him with hating because he knows.

Mrs. Dalloway: Mind-reading

“Hunted out of existence, maimed, frozen, the victims of cruelty and injustice (she had heard Richard say so over and over again)- no, she could feel nothing for the Albanians, or was it the Armenians? but she loved her roses (didn’t that help the Armenians?)- the only flowers she could bear to see cut” (120). 

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print.

For context, the sentences before are: “And people would say, ‘Clarissa Dalloway is spoilt.’  She cared much more for the roses than for the Armenians.” The initial use of quotation marks suggest that people may have actually said this about Mrs. Dalloway. The absence of quotation marks around the next few sentences suggest free indirect discourse through Mrs. Dalloway; Clarissa thinks about how “people” think about her. Clarissa assumes others criticize her for focusing more on the menial and materialistic, like roses, rather than larger issues, like the Albanians/Armenians as victims of injustice. Parenthesis are used to separate Clarissa’s own thoughts with her thoughts of how others view her. Parenthetical phrases offer access to her self-reflection and highlights her own insecurities. “(She had heard Richard say so over and over again)” is her admission that she would not have known or thought about the cruelties of the Armenians if not for Richard. Clarissa considers, “(didn’t that help the Armenians)” regarding her loving the roses. She asks this rhetorically and ironically, the juxtaposition of the roses and Armenians as victims of cruelty and injustice suggesting that she understands that her opinion of the roses does nothing for the Armenians. Clarissa’s assumption that others view her negatively fits with the rest of the novel, her actions defined by the way in which they affect others’ opinions of her. Clarissa’s representation of others’ calls for the readers skepticism, as her assumptions of how others perceive her are a means to project her own insecurities.

Mrs. Dalloway

“That she held herself well was true; and had nice hands and feet; and dressed well, considering that she spent little. But often now this body she wore (she stopped to look at the Dutch picture), this body, with all its capacities, seemed nothing-nothing at all. She had the oddest sense of being herself invisible, unseen; unknown; there being no more marrying, no more having of children now, but only this astonishing and rather solemn progress with the rest of them, up Bond Street, this being Mrs. Dalloway; not even Clarissa any more; this being Mrs. Richard Dalloway.”

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2005), 10-11.

Mrs. Dalloway acknowledges that she lives for others and fantasizes about who she would be if she did not. She then looks at herself through a critical lens, describing her body as something she wore. She feels displaced and contemplates her own identity.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“Stephen Deadalus
Class of Elements
Clongowes Wood College
Sallins
County Kildare
Ireland
Europe
The World
The Universe …

What was after the Universe? Nothing. But was there anything round the universe to show where it stopped before the nothing place began? It could not be a wall but there could be a thin thin line all round everything. It was very big to think about everything and everywhere. Only God could do that…When would he be like the fellows in Poetry and Rhetoric? … That was very far away. First came vacation and then the next term and then vacation again and then again another term and then again the vacation. It was like a train going in and out of tunnels and that was like the noise of the boys eating in the refectory when you opened and closed the flaps of the ears. Term, vacation; tunnel, out; noise, stop. How far away it was!”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pg. 8-9

Limitations of Stephen’s consciousness, self-awareness, awareness of the vastness of both place and time.

Heart of Darkness

“Try to be civil, Marlow,” growled a voice, and I knew there was at least one listener awake besides myself (137).

Joseph Conrad, “Heart of Darkness”, in Heart of Darkness and Other Tales (New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2002), 137.

Function of the external narrative? The significance of the framing and the relationship between the main plot and the outer frame?

The Beast in the Jungle

The escape would have been to love her; then, then he would have lived. She had lived- who could say now with what passion?-since she had loved him for himself; whereas he had never thought of her (ah, how hugely it glared at him!) but in the chill of his egotism and the light of her use. Her spoken words came back to him, and the chain stretched and stretched. The beast had lurked indeed, and the beast, at its hour, had sprung; it had sprung in the twilight o f the cold April when, pale, ill, wasted, but all beautiful, and perhaps even then recoverable, she had risen from her chair to stand before him and let him imaginably guess; it had sprung as he didn’t guess; it had sprung as she hopelessly turned from him, and the mark, by the time he left her, had fallen where it was to fall. He had justified his fear and achieved his fate; he had failed, with the last exactitude, of all he was to fail of; and a moan now rose to his lips as he remembered she had prayed he mightn’t know. This horror of waking –this was knowledge, knowledge under the breath of which the very tears in his eyes seemed to freeze.

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories & Essays (New York: Library of America, 1999), 489.

The beast as regret or missed opportunity? Loving as living. Knowledge as powerful as ignorance.