Nightwood/Historical Line

“—so I looked at Jenny’s possessions with scorn in my eye. It may have been all most ‘unusual,’ but who wants a toe-nail that is thicker than common? And that thought came to me out of the contemplation of the mad strip of the inappropriate that runs through creation, like my girl friend who married some sort of Adriatic bird who had such thick ones that he had to trim them with a horse-file—my mind is so rich that it is always wandering!”

Djuna Barnes. Nightwood (New York: New Directions, 2006), 111.

After taking a look at my old commonplaces, I noticed that pretty much all of the books we’ve read so far pay a lot of attention to inner life or thought, usually expressed through FID or stream of consciousness. And I think often, allowing the reader to access a character’s thoughts often allows for sympathy. For example, in Cane’s “Bona and Paul,” Toomer uses FID to mark Paul’s feelings of exclusion; the reader can then access his back and forth inner conflict with himself, even though he remains silent about it. In Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf pushes external events further into the background, and as I had noted in my commonplace, movement in and out of spaces gives way to free-flowing thoughts that negotiate past and present.  Alternating narrators in As I Lay Dying, Faulkner allows individual accounts to reveal information about the characters that do not make their way into speech, creating an even wider range of perspective. For example, the reader sees more clearly how strangely perceptive Darl’s character is through the way his narration seems able to access other character’s thoughts and know all the family’s secrets. While these texts certainly don’t treat inner life the same way, I think it’s notable that these thoughts remain just that, as they’re not placed into dialogue. What Barnes does differently in Nightwood is place the doctor’s line of thought into direct reported speech, even though his dialogue borders on stream of consciousness. Instead of privileging inner life and voice, Barnes makes the doctor’s inner monologue get in the way of his story and also carry on in spite of Nora’s crying. When the doctors unfiltered thoughts turn into speech, his words are silly and unnecessary ramblings.  A “wandering” mind for Barnes then is not “so rich,” and she seems to construct a narrative that is often indifferent to inner life or expression of thought.

Nightwood

“The book was the memoirs of the Marquis de Sade, a line was underscored: Et lui rendit pendant sa captivité les milles services qu’un amour dévoué est seul capable de rendre, and suddenly into his mind came the question: “What is wrong?” (51)

Barnes, Djuna. Nightwood. New Directions, 1937. Print

The English translation (according to Google) is as follows: “And rendered him during his captivity the thousand services which devoted love alone can render”, it should be noted that (according to Wikipedia) the Marquis de Sade was known for his “libertine sexuality” which could point out that perhaps Felix didn’t marry the woman he thought he did.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

“When God had made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and glittered all over. Some angels got jealous and chopped him into millions of pieces, but still he glittered and hummed. So they beat him down to nothing but sparks but each little spark had a shine and a song. So they covered each one over with mud. And the lonesomeness in the sparks make them hunt for one another.”

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

Surprising that angels who are suppose to be innocent would be jealous of man. Also thinking that perhaps the mud has something to do with different races.

Bahka goes to prison

“It was a discord between person and circumstance by which a lion like him lay enmeshed in a net while many a common criminal wore a rajah’s crown.”   pg 94

This quote serves to point of how unfair the caste system is. It is saying how a good person like Bahka, described as a lion, can suffer under the “common criminals” that are randomly assigned to be the upper class. This quote shows more of the injustice within the social hierarchy.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

“Dat school teacher had done hid her in de woods all night long, and he had done raped mah baby and run on off just before day.” (19)

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Harper Perennial: 1937.

I picked this quote because of how jarring it is to talk about the rape of your own daughter, but also because of the language used in the dialogue. The language and tone created by the specific southern black dialect used by these characters makes it much harder to read and actually figure out what is happening, paired with the rape of a character here makes it even more of a disturbing scene.

Their Eyes Were Watching God.

“All gods who receive homage are cruel. All gods dispense suffering without reason. Otherwise they would not be worshipped.”

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (New York: Harper Perennial, 2006).

This is something that I have always questioned. Why does God give us, some more than others, such severe hardships, yet we worship them. At that point, are we worshiping them for ourselves or out of fear?

Their Eyes

“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. 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. Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.”

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Novel. New York: Perennial Library, 1990. Print.

From the very beginning the novel sets off by introducing its main theme, that men and women are dependent on one another.  It also introduces the idea that women can make their dreams reality while men cannot do this.  The protagonist of the novel is a woman and the novel could be classified as a feminist book.

Their Eyes

“She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman.”

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

A sadistic approach to womanhood, that you become one once your dreams die. This could be applied to adulthood in general, when you stop imagining you become a grown-up.

“She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her. Then she went inside there to see what it was. It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered. But looking at it she saw that it never was the flesh and blood figure of her dreams. Just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over” (72).

Image shattered…absence of image, Jody demoted to an “it;” literally “objectifies;” turns him into object rather than herself.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Novel. New York: Perennial Library, 1990. Print.

 

Their Eyes Were Watching God

“The men noticed her firm buttocks like she had grape fruits in her hip pockets; the great rope of black hair swinging to her waist and unraveling in the wind like a plume; then her pugnacious breasts trying to bore holes in her shirt. They, the men, were saving with the mind what they lost with the eye. The women took the faded shirt and muddy overalls and laid them away for remembrance. It was a weapon against her strength and if it turned out of no significance, still it was a hope that she might fall to their level some day.”

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (New York: Harper Perennial, 2006).

The way Hurston shows that men can hold an image in their mind of physical entities and properties of a woman and her body, then presents a contrast of how she sees those things as “weapons against her strength”. It was a sentence that expressed, from the beginning, the gender differences between men and women that would continue throughout the rest of Hurston’s novel.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

“Janie was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation. Then Janie felt a pain remorseless sweet that left her limp and languid.”

This representation of the “bees and the flowers” is very similar to the “birds and the bees” concept. Here, Janie is exploring her idea of love and romanticism. I believe that Janie is trying to discover her desires and the world around her, as she is engrossed in nature in this moment.

Zora Neale Hurston. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Ebook. Chapter 2.

 

 

 

Their Eyes Were Watching God

“He had always wanted to be a big voice, but de white folks had all de sayso where he come from and everywhere else, exceptin’ dis place dat colored folk was buildin’ theirselves.”

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (New York: Harper Perennial, 2006), 28.

Hurston gives Janie a “big voice” of sorts by letting her tenor of speech take over the narrative and describe her meeting Joe Starks. (Edit: I’m actually not sure if this specific sentence is Janie or Joe Starks; The beginning of the paragraph “sounds” like Janie, but at least to me, both of their voices seem present.) This is similar to Toomer, I think, because standard English isn’t the only language that runs the text.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

“‘Dat’s de God’s truth,’ Jim Stone agreed, ‘Dat’s de very reason.’
Janie did what she had never done before, that is, thrust herself into the conversation.
‘Sometimes God gits familiar wid us womenfolks too and talks His inside business. He told me how surprised He was ’bout y’all turning out so smart after Him makin’ yuh different; and how surprised y’all is goin’ tuh be if you ever find out you don’t know half as much ’bout us as you think you do. It’s so easy to make yo’self out God Almighty when you ain’t got nothin’ tuh strain against but women and chickens.'” (Hurston 235)

Hurston, Zora Neale. “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Novels & Stories, edited by Cheryl A. Wall, Library of America, 1995. Print.

Janie is silenced in many ways in her time with Jodie, and in this significant moment, she “thrust herself into the conversation” and made her voice heard. Her appeal to God also ties in with the title and the idea of being watched.

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.”

Their Eyes Were Watching God

“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.

TEWWG

“Here Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon-for no matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you- and pinched it in to such a little bit of a thing that she could tie it about her granddaughter’s neck tight enough to choke her.”

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013. p. 85

Nanny had taken life and love in all it’s grandeur and manipulated it to suit her own wishes for what she wanted Janie’s life to be like and in the process, suffocated her.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

“Listen, Sam, if it was nature, nobody wouldn’t have tuh look out for babies touchin’ stoves, would they? ’Cause dey just naturally wouldn’t touch it. But dey sho will. So it’s caution.” “Naw it ain’t, it’s nature, cause nature makes caution. It’s de strongest thing dat God ever made, now. Fact is it’s de onliest thing God every made. He made nature and nature made everything else.”

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013. p.76.

This is a debate concerning nature vs. nurture.  In the dialect used, the characters are beginning to learn about themselves and others and discuss the obstacles that lay before them.

Untouchable

“Both Ram Charan and Chota were surprised. Never before had they seen Bakha behave like that. Ram Charan was admitted to be of the higher caste among them, because he was a washerman.”

Mulk Raj Anand. Untouchable. (New York: Penguin Books, 1940). 83.

This excerpt has a lot of choppy and easy-to-understand sentences which I feel is a description applicable to the entire book. It is not too hard to analyze.

Untouchable

“He halted suddenly, and facing the shopkeeper with great humility, joined his hands and begged to know where he could put a coin to pay for a packet of „Red  Lamp‟. The shopkeeper pointed to a spot on the board near him. Bakha put his anna there. The betel-leaf-seller dashed some water over it from the jug with which he sprinkled the betel leaves now and again. Having thus purified it he picked up the nickel piece and threw it into the counter. Then he flung a packet of „Red Lamp‟ cigarettes at Bakha, as a butcher might throw a bone to an instant dog sniffing round the corner of his shop.”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. (New York: Penguin Books, 1940). 42.

This passage really sums up the caste system and shows how social interactions and much of life was really affected. Even today, the caste system is still much in place. My sister worked for a non-profit who built wells in villages that did not have access to clean water. She learned that because of the caste system higher class citizens already had access to clean water while lower class citizens did not and did not have many opportunities to pull themselves up.