Historical Line

(Commonplace for Barnes posted last week)

I think it is interesting to note that through the large timeline we have covered in this class, most of the books share at least a few moments where the characters reflect on themselves and on how they interact with the others around them, whether it be through stream of consciousness, free indirect discourse, or dialogue. “A Beast in the Jungle” simply describes how the two characters “looked at each other as with the feeling of an occasion missed,” which allows for readers to relate to the feeling of missing out on something, and understand not only the look that the two characters are giving each other, but also the feeling that they have about one another, where they know each other but cannot place how, and feel guilty about it but also longing for one another. This quote involves the characters interacting with one another, and allows the readers to therefore see insight to their characters and to their relationship with one another. In “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” a similar moment occurs when “Stephen tried to laugh with them. He felt his whole body hot and confused in a moment.” This sentence describes Stephen’s actions and physical feelings of trying to laugh and feeling confused and embarrassed. From this, we can learn about Stephen’s character of being self-conscious and seeking the approval of his peers. In “Mrs. Dalloway,” a moment like this is shared between Mr. and Mrs. Dalloway when “she understood; she understood without his speaking.” Through Mr. Dalloway giving his wife flowers and through implied exchanged glances during this moment, the Dalloways can essentially read each other’s minds. This tells a lot about their relationship and about themselves, about how although they are not the most happily married couple, they know each other very well and also are quiet people of few words. This same theme of a relationship is relayed in “Nightwood” when it is said that “‘one of two things: to find someone who is so stupid that he can lie to her, or to love someone so much that she can lie to him.’” This quote speaks poorly of relationships, and tells how the characters of this novel are very pessimistic and cynical about the concept of relationships. Through these four novels, we can see that as we progressed through this course and through the twentieth century, this concept of interpersonal relationships seems to become less and less idealized and more cynical about the nature of humanity. However, the type of writing that conveyed people’s thoughts and opinions about other people but ended up speaking to their own character, definitely remained and carried through the century.

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