“‘That swine has cheated me! He promised me a rupee’, said the astrologer.” (13)
Narayan, R K. Malgudi Days. Edison, NJ: Vista India, 2005. Print
This realization at the end of the story is especially ironic. The astrologer is able to successfully trick Guru Nayak into believing that the man that stabbed him years before is dead. Instead of being relieved that he has escaped his own death, he is angry at the amount of money he has received from Guru Nayak.
“Robin was outside the ‘human type’—a wild thing caught in a woman’s skin, monstrously alone, monstrously vain; like the paralyzed man in Coney Island…”
Barnes, Djuna, and T. S. Eliot. Nightwood. New York: New Directions, 1961. Print. 155
Robin is described as perpetually and monstrously alone. In this passage, she is depicted as a self absorbed character incapable of feeling empathy. A common subject illustrated in many of my commonplace passages is the theme of isolation. Similar to my Nightwood commonplace, my commonplace passage choices in The Beast in the Jungle, Cane, and Mrs. Dalloway, all explore the theme of lost identity and seclusion. In The Beast in the Jungle, Marcher feels completely alone once May dies: “She was dying and he would lose her; she was dying and his life would end” (James, 477). Marcher spends the entirety of his life anticipating a life altering event. By doing so, he is unable to truly love and appreciate his life. Once May finally dies, Marcher realizes that he is utterly detached and he feels completely alone in the world. While Marcher is internally alone, Becky in Cane is externally ostracized and isolated: “When the first was born, the white folks said they’d have no more to do with her. And black folks, they too joined hands to cast her out” (Toomer, 8). Because Becky has two black sons, she is secluded from her society. Becky is not accepted by both the black and white community, and as a result, she is completely isolated. In Mrs. Dalloway, Clarissa Dalloway also struggles with isolation and self identity: “But often now this body she wore (she stopped to look at a 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 anymore; this being Mrs. Richard Dalloway” (Woolf, 10). Through her marriage, Clarissa loses her self-identity and feels entirely isolated. She feels insignificant and internally inaccessible. By planning a party, Clarissa is able to distract herself from her true feelings and insecurities. The theme of isolation in literature is significant because it exposes the true nature of each character. The theme of isolation allows the reader to distinguish external perception and internal reality.
“Finally out of Nanny’s talk and her own conjectures she made a sort of comfort for herself. Yes, she would love Logan after they were married. She could see no way for it to come about, but Nanny and the old folks had said it, so it must be so. Husbands and wives always loved each other, and that was what marriage meant. It was just so. Janie felt glad of the thought, for then it wouldn’t seem so destructive and mouldy. She wouldn’t be lonely anymore.”
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013. p. 21
This passage exemplifies Janie’s innocence and naivety. She blindly believes Nanny’s rigid views about marriage and love. In order to alleviate her fears, Janie is able to convince herself that love and marriage are synonymous.
“The bully!’ Bakha exclaimed under his breath as he listened to the last accents of his father’s voice die out in a clumsy, asthmatic cough”
Mulk Raj Anand, Untouchable (New York: Penguin Books, 1940), 23
Bakha remarks that his father is a bully. Lakha scolds Bakha to get out of bed as he lies in his own bed. In this moment he exposes his hypocrisy and verbally abusive nature. Lakha is a lazy, cruel, and unsupportive father.
“Elizabeth rather wondered, as they did up the parcel, what Miss Kilman was thinking.”
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, 1925. Print. 127
In this passage, Elizabeth wonders what Miss Kilman is thinking as they shop for petticoats. Much of the novel is written in free indirect discourse. Though the book is written in third person, the reader is able to understand the thoughts of several different characters. In this particular passage, Elizabeth wonders about Miss Kilman as she guides her around the Army and Navy store. Though they get along, Miss Kilman and Elizabeth are completely dissimilar. While Elizabeth is young and beautiful, Miss Kilman is unhappy, scornful, and wretched with self pity. In this moment, Elizabeth wonders about Miss Kilman’s nature and she hopes to leave Miss Kilman’s side. As a born again Christian, Miss Kilman often attempts to persuade Elizabeth to accept her religious beliefs, and though she does not reciprocate Miss Kilman’s attraction, Elizabeth likes the new ideas and opportunities that Miss Kilman presents to her.
“But often now this body she wore (she stopped to look at a 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
Clarissa completely loses her identity through marriage. She feels utterly insignificant and identifies herself solely as Richard’s wife. Clarissa has lost all ambition and sense of self.
“When the first was born, the white folks said they’d have no more to do with her. And black folks, they too joined hands to cast her out.”
Toomer, Jean. “Becky.” Cane. New York: Liveright, 2011. 8. Print.
Becky is ostracized by both black and white members of her community for having two black sons. Becky’s seclusion stems directly from the social limitations in the south in 1923.
“Not to fall was too hard, too hard; and he felt the silent lapse of his soul, as it would be at some instant to come, falling, falling, but not yet fallen, still unfallen, but about to fall. He crossed the bridge over the stream of the Tolka and turned his eyes coldly for an instant towards the faded blue shrine of the Blessed Virgin which stood fowl-wise on a pole in the middle of a ham-shaped encampment of poor cottages.”
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008)
Stephen turns his eye coldly at the sight of the Virgin Mary shrine. This moment signifies a vast change in his previous religious beliefs.
“No, said Heron, Dedalus is a model youth. He doesn’t smoke and he doesn’t go to bazaars and he doesn’t flirt and he doesn’t damn anything or damn all.”
Stephen is described as a “model youth” despite his actions and how he truly feels inside. In reality, Stephen is sensitive, dissatisfied, and a bit confused.
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
“Near the same tree two more bundles of acute angles sat with their legs drawn up. One, with his chin propped on his knees, stared at nothing, in an intolerable and appalling manner: his brother phantom rested its forehead, as if overcome with a great weariness; and all about others were scattered in every pose of contorted collapse, as in some picture of a massacre or a pestilence. While I stood horror-struck, one of these creatures rose to his hands and knees, and went off on all-fours towards the river to drink”
Marlow is fearful of the Africans. He personifies the black Africans as creatures and phantoms. He does not regard them as real human beings with significance and value.
Joseph Conrad, “Heart of Darkness”, in Heart of Darkness and Other Tales (New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2002).
“She was dying and he would lose her; she was dying and his life would end.”
Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories & Essays (New York: Library of America, 1999), 477.
Marcher’s thoughts are absolutely painful. Without May, his life is meaningless.