Their Eyes Were Watching God.

“If you don’t want him, you sho oughta. Heah you is wid de onliest organ in town, amongst colored folks, in yo’ parlor. Got a house bought and paid for and sixty acres uh land right on de big road and . . . Lawd have mussy! Dat’s de very prong all us black women gits hung on. Dis love!” (23). 

The practice of arranged marriage is a tactic used by the well-off to maintain economic and social roles — marriage can combine wealth and power. In this case, the intent of arranged marriage is quite the opposite: Nanny finds Janie a husband in order to protect her from abuse. “Sixty acres” being the promise of reparations post-slavery is a symbolic attempt to demarcate social class even within an already oppressed group — yet another tactic adopted from the powerful.  

 

Untouchable

“For though he considered them his inferiors since he came back with sharpened wits from the British barracks, he still recognised them as his neighbors, the intimates with whose lives, whose thoughts, whose feelings he had to make a compromise. He didn’t expect them to be formal. And as he stood for a while among them, he became a part of a strange, brooding, mysterious crowd that was seeking the warmth of the sun. One didn’t need to employ a courtesy, a greeting to become part of this gathering as one does in the word where there is plenty of light and happiness. For in the lives of this riff-raff, this scum of the earth, these dregs of humanity, only silence, grim silence of death fighting for life prevailed.”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. (New York: Penguin Books, 1940). 36.

Bakha’s exposure to the Tommies as a sweeper of their barracks is enough for Bakha to view himself as superior to his neighbors. There is a noticeable hierarchy within this lower class. Bakha’s view, however, seems contradictory: while he is superior to his neighbors, he is also part of them. Through shared experience, all basking in the warmth of the sun on one level and all experiencing “the lives of the riff-raff, this scum of the earth, these dregs of humanity” on another level, Bakha was equal to them. 

Clarissa Mind-Read of Peter

“They thought, or Peter at any rate thought, that she enjoyed imposing herself; liked to have famous people about her; great names; was simply a snob in short” (121).

    Clarissa speculates on everyone’s thoughts about her, but she becomes aware that she is estimating simply Peter’s, evident as she (focalized) notes this in the very next clause. The indistinct “they,” immediately clarified to mean Peter only, demonstrates that Peter alone is the metric for Clarissa’s sense of scrutiny from everyone in her immediate circle. In other words, Peter is the “they.” Most people are concerned with their reputation or how they come off to people, but the “they” a person senses scrutiny/judgement from is merely a faceless, general group of people. So, it becomes clear that Peter’s judgements of Clarissa are the ones she is concerned with the most, if not the only ones she is genuinely concerned with. The use of semi-colons as a way of listing, very succinctly and determinately, her perspective on what (Peter) thinks of her, shows that she has thought this out before; she has made a very definitive idea of exactly what Peter thinks about her. Clarissa goes on to state a value judgement Richard makes of her: “Richard merely thought it foolish of her to like excitement when she knew it was bad for her heart” (121). But this would be a more clinical, impersonal judgement on Richard’s part that Clarissa doesn’t seem concerned with. It’s stated as a perfunctory afterthought she doesn’t seem too worried about.

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

 

Mrs. Dalloway

“…she, too, loving it as she did with an absurd and faithful passion, being part of it, since her people were courtiers once in the time of the Georges, she, too, was going that very night to kindle and illuminate; to give her party.”

Clarissa values the fact that her and her family’s reputation is defined by wealth and luxury. This says a lot about English class systems of the era and how people equated their happiness and success to materialism. This is where she finds her self-worth. Is it perhaps foreshadowing a change of heart or lesson to be learned?

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