Malgudi Days: Attila

“But as time passed our Attila exhibited a love of humanity which was sometimes disconcerting. The Scourge of Europe -could be ever have been like this? they put it down to his age. What child could help loving all creatures?”

Narayan, R. K. “”Attila”” Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin, 2006. 101. Print.

Malgudi Days

“This is my child. I planted it. I saw it grow. I loved it. Don’t cut it down…”

R.K. Narayan. Malgudi Days. (New York: Penguin Books.) 2006.

This is a very touching quote from Velan because I think it really puts his emotions into perspective for the reader. In my opinion, the short/choppy sentences create emphasis and cause us to sympathize.

Nightwood/Historical Timeline

“Its rots her sleep- Jenny is one of those who nip like a bird and void like an ox- the poor and lightly damned! That can be a torture also. None of us suffers as much as we should, or loves as much as we say. Love is the first lie; wisdom the last. Don’t I know that the only way to know evil is through truth?” (147)

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

Looking back, I realized that for the most part, my quotes that I have selected in each novel represent some kind of conflict or decision made by a character. The quotes that contained inner thought or stream of consciousness, correlated with this idea of internal conflict or discovery within the character. All the way back to Heart of Darkness and leading up to Nightwood, the characters are complex and hard to figure out. They struggle with their ability to say what’s on their mind, and come to a decision within the novel’s context. There is always some sort of conflict going on in each of these novels, and the thoughts and multiple emotions that the characters give us only add to the conflict.

One specific connection that I made is with this passage I have selected from Nightwood to parts of As I Lay Dying. During a zombie monologue, Addie Bundren talks about the concept of love, and how its meaning has tricked her. In this passage from Nightwood, something very similar is being said. The idea that “Love is a lie..” is portrayed within both of these novels, by characters who demonstrate a strange way of loving others.

 

Nightwood/Historical Line

“Robin was outside the ‘human type’—a wild thing caught in a woman’s skin, monstrously alone, monstrously vain”

Barnes, Djuna, and T. S. Eliot. Nightwood. New York: New Directions, 1961. Print. 155.

One of the biggest themes explored in not only Nightwood, but also The Beast in the Jungle, Cane, and Untouchable is being “outside” of the norm when it comes to identity. Marcher is not like anyone else when it comes to love. He does not show it, understand it, or really ever feel it. In the end, he is forced to question his life and identity. In Cane, the story of Bona and Paul focuses on the same idea of identity where Paul is extremely confused with who he is and ultimately loses Bona. This is where we see a fragmentation of identity. Untouchable creates a separation in society due to identity because they were seen as outsiders, as “outside the ‘human type'” as this quote from Nightwood states.

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.  

 

Their Eyes Were Watching God

“Finally out of Nanny’s talk and her own conjectures she made a sort of comfort for herself. Yes, she would love Logan after they were married. She could see no way for it to come about, but Nanny and the old folks had said it, so it must be so. Husbands and wives always loved each other, and that was what marriage meant. It was just so. Janie felt glad of the thought, for then it wouldn’t seem so destructive and mouldy. She wouldn’t be lonely anymore.”

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013. p. 21

This passage exemplifies Janie’s innocence and naivety. She blindly believes Nanny’s rigid views about marriage and love. In order to alleviate her fears, Janie is able to convince herself that love and marriage are synonymous.

TEWWG

“Here Nanny had taken the biggest thing God ever made, the horizon-for no matter how far a person can go the horizon is still way beyond you- and pinched it in to such a little bit of a thing that she could tie it about her granddaughter’s neck tight enough to choke her.”

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013. p. 85

Nanny had taken life and love in all it’s grandeur and manipulated it to suit her own wishes for what she wanted Janie’s life to be like and in the process, suffocated her.

Mind Read–Mrs. Dalloway

“…Saw him hesitate; consider; which interested her, as Mr. Dalloway always interested her, for what was he thinking, she wondered, about Peter Walsh?

That Peter Walsh had been in love with Clarissa; that he would go back directly after lunch and find Clarissa; that he would tell her in so many words, that he loved her. Yes, he would say that.”

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt Inc, 1925. Print. 104

In this scene, Mr. Whitbread, Lady Bruton and Mr. Dalloway are dining together and Lady Bruton had just mentioned that Peter Walsh is back in town. Lady Bruton’s secretary, Milly Brush, is her thinking about what Mr. Dalloway must be analyzing in his mind about Peter Walsh. What could he be thinking about the man that used/still may love his wife? Actually, the passage intrigued my in many ways because of its reflection of both Milly Brush as a character and also how she perceives Mr. Dalloway. As the reader we see that Mrs. Dalloway is actually unhappy and insecure about her marriage to Richard, however, here Milly is portraying Mr. Dalloway’s full love and affection for his wife in a form of jealousy and assurance in claiming her as his own in love and in a strange way that his love has emerged only in the light of another man’s love for Clarissa. Milly Brush seems to assume a character of Mr. Dalloway that expresses love and care, however as the reader I see the opposite. Her assumption of his thoughts shows to me that her idea of Richard is that of jealousy and insecurity. If she did not think that Richard was insecure about his marriage, would she be so sure in her assumption of his thoughts being that of seeking reassurance of his love with his wife?

“All the time he was thinking only of Clarissa, and was fidgeting with his knife.”

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print. 187

In this passage, Sally Seton is thinking of Peter thinking of Clarissa. She assumes that his love for Clarissa still exists even though he has intentions to marry someone else. Sally is making conclusions regarding Peter’s feelings for Clarissa based on her close relationship with him. On one hand, by having this meta-representation of Peter readers are given the chance to further get to know his character. Woolf utilizes Sally’s close relationship with Peter to portray his more private thoughts, that is his longing and love for Clarissa. On the other hand, there is a question of validity because it is not Peter who is thinking about Clarissa but Sally who thinks Peter is thinking about Clarissa. This meta-representation also calls for readers to be critical as it leaves out Peter’s point of view.

Mind reading — Peter’s response to the question of love.

“–Peter always in love, always in love with the wrong woman? What’s your love? she might say to him. And she knew his answer; how it is the most important thing in the world and no woman possibly understood it.” 

The first question makes a number of assumptions. First, it assumes that Peter is the source of love — he is never the recipient of mutual feelings. Second, it assumes that Peter is in love with the “wrong” woman, which implies bad judgement. Third, it assumes Clarissa is the “wrong” woman — in suggesting this, she is attempting to hide her love for Peter on the basis of a pre-existing relationship with Richard. While not his answer, the assumptions above are reflected in the question posed to Peter. 

In response to the question “What’s your love?” Clarissa supposes that Peter would answer: “it is the most important thing in the world and no woman possibly understood it.” This, like the question, assumes a number of things: First, it assumes that Peter, for his love, is irrational. In Clarissa’s projected answer, there is an absurd tone; how could love be the most important thing in the world. Second, it assumes, in what is an empirical falsehood, that Peter is the sole human who is obsessed with the condition of being in love. In the novel, many characters are driven by love: Rezia and Clarissa, most notably. Third, Clarissa implants herself into the answer. In her attempt to reject Peter’s love, she uses the language of “no woman” to resolve the tension she is experiencing; she is searching for someone who says ‘you may not love Peter.’ 

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

“She spoke it in a tone so special, in spite of her weakness, that he stared an instant—stared as if some light, hitherto hidden, had shimmered across his vision. Darkness again closed over it, but the gleam had already become for him an idea. ‘Because I haven’t the right——?’
‘Don’t know—when you needn’t,’ she mercifully urged. ‘You needn’t—for we shouldn’t.’
‘Shouldn’t?’ If he could but know what she meant!
‘No—it’s too much.’
‘Too much?’ he still asked—but with a mystification that was the next moment, of a sudden, to give way. Her words, if they meant something, affected him in this light—the light also of her wasted face—as meaning all, and the sense of what knowledge had been for herself came over him with a rush which broke through into a question. ‘Is it of that, then, you’re dying?’
She but watched him, gravely at first, as if to see, with this, where he was, and she might have seen something, or feared something, that moved her sympathy. ‘I would live for you still—if I could.’ Her eyes closed for a little, as if withdrawn into herself, she were, for a last time, trying. ‘But I can’t!’ she said as she raised them again to take leave of him.”

“The Beast in the Jungle.” In The Better Sort. New York: Scribner, 1903. Internet Archive. http://archive.org/details/bettersort00jamegoog. 232-233

What is the function of the choppy, ambiguous dialogue preceding/during this passage, considering Marcher’s tragic realization? What is May trying to say to him here?

 

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.