Malgudi Days: Attila

“But as time passed our Attila exhibited a love of humanity which was sometimes disconcerting. The Scourge of Europe -could be ever have been like this? they put it down to his age. What child could help loving all creatures?”

Narayan, R. K. “”Attila”” Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin, 2006. 101. Print.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tire. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013. p.1

Untouchable

“But he kept up his new form, rigidly adhering to his clothes day and night and guarding them from all base taint of Indianness, not even risking the formlessness of an Indian quilt, though he shivered with the cold at night”

Mulk Raj Anand, Untouchable (New York: Penguin Books, 1940), 12

Mrs. Dalloway Mind Reading

“But how lovely, she said, taking his flowers. She understood; she understood without his speaking; his Clarissa. She put them in vases on the mantelpiece.”

Clarissa’s seeming understanding of Richard’s meaning with the gift would suggest that she knows him well enough to make assumptions of his thoughts. However, the following thought isn’t hers, but Richard’s, “his Clarissa”. That their differing understandings follow one after the other, gives the idea that they’re united, that they know each other enough to make these inferences. Yet, Mr. Dalloway’s true meaning behind the flowers is lost in his inability to stay “I love you” to Clarissa, and instead claims her as “his”. His dehumanizing her to a property to be owned, gives reason to suggest that he doesn’t actually love her, but rather the idea of having her, which would exiplain his silence. Mrs. Dalloway’s struggle for identity and agency as seen throughout the novel are a result of Mr. Dalloway’s unspoken possession of her person.

Mrs. Dalloway

For she could stand it no longer. Dr. Holmes might say there was nothing the matter. Far rather would she that he were dead!… And it was cowardly for a man to say he would kill himself, but Septimus had fought; he was brave; he was not Septimus now. She put on her lace collar. She put on her new hat and he never noticed; and he was happy without her. Nothing could make her happy without him! Nothing! He was selfish. So men are. For he was not ill. Dr. Holmes said there was nothing the matter with him… It was she who suffered—she had nobody to tell.

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print. 23

In this passage, Lucrezia’s desperation at her husband’s “being out of sorts” and not knowing how to deal with it has taken its toll on her. Furthermore, it is through her inability to understand what is wrong with Septimus that we, the readers, see the way that shell shock, now known as PTSD, affected those surrounding the person with this mental disorder in a time when this was not wholly understood or even considered to be a real illness.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“His throat ached with a desire to cry aloud, the cry of a hawk or eagle on high, to cry piercingly of his deliverance to the winds. This was the call of life to his soul not the dull gross voice of the world of duties and despair, not the inhuman voice that had called him to the pale service of the altar. An instant of wild flight had delivered him and the cry of triumph which his lips withheld cleft his brain.”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. pg. 143

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“He still tried to think what was the right answer. Was it right to kiss his mother or wrong to kiss his mother? What did that mean, to kiss? You put your face up like that to say goodnight and then his mother put her face down. That was to kiss. His mother put her lips on his cheek; her lips were soft and they wetted his cheek; and they made a tiny little noise: kiss. Why did people do that with their two faces?”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pg. 11.

Demonstrating affection towards a mother or any other person through a kiss is an act commonly done without much thought put into it. Stephen’s questioning of what it is, it’s meaning, whether it’s wrong or right, and why people do it caught my attention. The dissection of the gesture, the phrasing of the questions, viewing it objectively rather than subjectively, they have an adult-like quality to them, being given to us through a child.

 

Heart of Darkness

“The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretense but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea — something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to…”

In an almost poetic manner, Marlow presents the basis for which conquerors wreck havoc on those they deem weaker than them. Their actions are based on an idea they have been ingrained with to follow so as not to scrutinize and keep at bay the dark truth lurking underneath.

The Beast in the Jungle

“He would have liked to invent something, get her to make-believe with him that some passage of a romantic or critical kind had originally occurred. He was really almost reaching out in imagination-as against time-for something that would do, and saying to himself that if it didn’t come this new incident would simply and rather awkwardly close. They would separate, and now for no second or for no third chance. They would have tried and not succeeded.

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories and Essays (New York: Library of America, 1999), pg. 449

This passage illustrates Marcher’s longing to connect with May, even if it’s by means of pretense. There’s a desperate quality to his musings in wanting to remain in the moment.