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 Were Watching God

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tire. 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.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013. p.1

Commonplace and “Mind-read”

“…could Miss Kilman really mind it? Yes, Miss Kilman did mind it.”

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print. 127

The context of this sentence is the cake that Elizabeth wonders if Miss Kilman had wanted when it is taken from her. Elizabeth is astonished by Miss Kilman’s eating habits and wonders whether she is even hungry at all but simply taking and taking as so many have done to her in the past, leaving her with nothing. Elizabeth acts as the link between the worlds of Miss Kilman and that of her mother and company. Interestingly, Miss Kilman’s feelings toward the two women are the complete opposite. She detests Clarissa and is infatuated with her daughter; feelings that can never be expressed in either regard for fear of unemployment, rejection, or both. So Miss Kilman eats, not out of pleasure, or need, but to finally possess something that no one can take away, and fill herself with something other than feelings of inadequacy and intense emotions.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“His throat ached with a desire to cry aloud, the cry of a hawk or eagle on high, to cry piercingly of his deliverance to the winds. This was the call of life to his soul not the dull gross voice of the world of duties and despair, not the inhuman voice that had called him to the pale service of the altar. An instant of wild flight had delivered him and the cry of triumph which his lips withheld cleft his brain.”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. pg. 143

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“He still tried to think what was the right answer. Was it right to kiss his mother or wrong to kiss his mother? What did that mean, to kiss? You put your face up like that to say goodnight and then his mother put her face down. That was to kiss. His mother put her lips on his cheek; her lips were soft and they wetted his cheek; and they made a tiny little noise: kiss. Why did people do that with their two faces?”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pg. 11.

Demonstrating affection towards a mother or any other person through a kiss is an act commonly done without much thought put into it. Stephen’s questioning of what it is, it’s meaning, whether it’s wrong or right, and why people do it caught my attention. The dissection of the gesture, the phrasing of the questions, viewing it objectively rather than subjectively, they have an adult-like quality to them, being given to us through a child.

 

Heart Of Darkness

“Near the same tree two more bundles of acute angles sat with their legs drawn up. One, with his chin propped on his knees, stared at nothing, in an intolerable and appalling manner: his brother phantom rested its forehead, as if overcome with a great weariness; and all about others were scattered in every pose of contorted collapse, as in some picture of a massacre or a pestilence. While I stood horror-struck, one of these creatures rose to his hands and knees, and went off on all-fours towards the river to drink”

Marlow is fearful of the Africans. He personifies the black Africans as creatures and phantoms. He does not regard them as real human beings with significance and value.

Joseph Conrad, “Heart of Darkness”, in Heart of Darkness and Other Tales (New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2002).

 

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.

The Beast in the Jungle

“One discussed, of course, like a hunchback, for there was always a hunchback face. That remained, and she was watching him; but people watched best, as a general thing, in silence, so that such would be predominantly the manner of their vigil. Yet he didn’t want, at the same time, to be solemn; solemn was what he imagined he too much tended to be with other people. The thing to be, with the one person who knew was easy and natural, to the make the reference rather than be seeming to avoid it..”

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories & Essays(New York: Library of America, 1999). 458

Marcher hides behind the truth of knowing. However, it is interesting that when he finally finds May who knows the truth, he is craving the discussion of it and its almost like he yearns to set it free. May’s silence of the “beast” was like the people of a village watching the face of a hunchback man without saying a word about the clear hunch on his back.

The Beast in the Jungle

“He saw the Jungle of his life and saw the lurking Beast; then, while he looked, perceived it, as by a stir of the air, rise, huge ad hideous, for the leap that was to settle him”.

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories & Essays(New York: Library of America, 1999).

This was the perfect ending to this short-story because it tied together the entire plot and the title- everything made sense.