“…the people… they are church-broken, nation-broken — they drink and pray and piss in the one place. Every man has a house-broken heart except the great man. The people love their church and know it, as a dog knows where he was made to conform, and there he returns by his instinct.”
Barnes, Djuna, and T. S. Eliot. Nightwood. New York: New Directions, 1961. Print.
This passage focuses on conformity and returning to such conformity when one ventures to find themselves. In Nightwood Nora knows who she must be and who she is expected to be. Her sense of conformity and feeling judged is heightened. Similarly, in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Stephen was so young and lonely. He knew he could not be what other expected but still wanted to please others. He wants attention, to be himself and if he cannot get that he almost seems as if he would rather die. Most similar to Nightwood is Untouchable. The sense of conformity and knowing your place is evident throughout this entire novel. The caste system greatly affected not only people’s lives but how they viewed themselves. How could they feel as if they had worth and value if no one else did. Their Eyes Were Watching God also focuses on a system of class and how others a viewed. Particularly African Americans in Hurston’s novel feel they must stay out of the light and feel that they are beneath others. In each novel there is at least a single character who feels as if they are stuck by the views of their family or even society. This sense of conformity is still seen as a major theme in many more current novels today.