Nightwood-Historical Timeline

“She closed her eyes, and at that moment she knew an awful happiness. Robin, like something dormant, was protected, moved out of death’s way by the successive arms of women; but as she closed her eyes, Nora said “Ah!” with the intolerable automatism of the last “Ah!” in a body struck at the moment of it’s final breath.”

Barnes, Djuna, and T. S. Eliot. Nightwood. New York: New Directions, 1961. Print. 70

This is a moment in which Nora witnesses a woman dying after falling from a statue, at first thinking it was Robin, but after seeing her up close “Nora said “Ah!”‘ out of relief that this wasn’t Robin.

This quote also leads me to linking the subject of death into Nightwood, Whose Body, Mrs. Dalloway, and As I Lay Dying. I specifically chose this order because I believe in terms of how death correlates within these stories have the most commonalties in this order. In Nightwood Robin is seeking death from those who wronged her, hence murdering them. This concedes with Whose Body because Peter Whimsey is trying to solve a murder, so in one, one murders, in the other, one solves the murder. The way Mrs. Dalloway links with Whose Body is the way the war effects death in the the characters relationship to death. Peter and Septimus both being war veterans have a unique relationship to death, having been literally surrounded by it for the length of time they were deployed, and both taking up residence in Great Britain, and both having PTSD or shell shock from their experience in the war. However the difference in how they cope ends up drastically different, Septimus taking his own life and Peter goes around solving murders, still having a close relationship to death. Mrs. Dalloway and As I Lay Dying share the likeness of having both characters who die being central to the story’s outcome. Septimus of course being a central POV character, and vital to Clarissa changing her way of thinking. If not for Addie Bundren the story wouldn’t even exist, they would never go to bury her and Darl wouldn’t have been institutionalized. You can also connect these two by connecting Darl and Septimus, I believe it says somewhere that Darl participated in the war, one might make his insanity connection to the war combined with his mother’s death. Outside of the story the two share similar methods of telling the story, albeit one written in 3rd person and the other in 1st they both feature multiple perspectives on the outcome of the story.

Peabody

“I can remember how when I was young I believed death to be a phenomenon of the body; now I know it to be merely a function of the mind and that of the minds of the ones who suffer the bereavement” (Faulkner 14)

 

This is one of the first moments we can get inside of Peabody’s mind in this section and access a moment in his past rather than what he’s physically feeling and seeing.  It’s just interesting that you have a doctor who isn’t healthy, and views death in a non-physical way.  Life is mental.  He’s very unsympathetic and thinks of it more as a phase for the people who lost someone.

War in Mrs. Dalloway.

“For it was the middle of June. The War was over, except for someone like Mrs Foxcroft at the Embassy last night eating her heart out because that nice boy was killed and now the old Manor House must go to a cousin, or Lady Bexborough who opened a bazaar, they said, with the telegram in her hand, John, her favourite, killed – but it was over; thank Heaven – over.” (Page 4). 

Woolf comments on the phrase, “The War was over.” While people are told that the War has ended, that is a false-suggestion, based upon a legal cessation and not a material one. That is, officials feel safe, but citizens are still dying. The constant use of the word “over” satirizes what is a false end to the War. Despite the passage exclaiming “over” three times, Woolf is clear that the impacts of violence continue to linger. 

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“How far away they were! There was cold sunlight outside the window. He wondered if he would die. You could die just the same on a sunny day. He might die before his mother came. Then he would have a dead mass in the chapel like the way the fellows had told him it was when Little had died. All the fellows would be at the mass, dressed in black, all with sad faces.”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pg. 19

Stephen is so young yet so lonely that he almost seems like he is dreaming of dying and hoping for it. He wants the attention that dying brings.

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.