“…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.
“When God had made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and glittered all over. Some angels got jealous and chopped him into millions of pieces, but still he glittered and hummed. So they beat him down to nothing but sparks but each little spark had a shine and a song. So they covered each one over with mud. And the lonesomeness in the sparks make them hunt for one another.”
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013.
Surprising that angels who are suppose to be innocent would be jealous of man. Also thinking that perhaps the mud has something to do with different races.
“He halted suddenly, and facing the shopkeeper with great humility, joined his hands and begged to know where he could put a coin to pay for a packet of „Red Lamp‟. The shopkeeper pointed to a spot on the board near him. Bakha put his anna there. The betel-leaf-seller dashed some water over it from the jug with which he sprinkled the betel leaves now and again. Having thus purified it he picked up the nickel piece and threw it into the counter. Then he flung a packet of „Red Lamp‟ cigarettes at Bakha, as a butcher might throw a bone to an instant dog sniffing round the corner of his shop.”
Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. (New York: Penguin Books, 1940). 42.
This passage really sums up the caste system and shows how social interactions and much of life was really affected. Even today, the caste system is still much in place. My sister worked for a non-profit who built wells in villages that did not have access to clean water. She learned that because of the caste system higher class citizens already had access to clean water while lower class citizens did not and did not have many opportunities to pull themselves up.
“She felt somehow very like him-the young man who had killed himself. She felt glad that he had done it; thrown it away.”
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt Inc, 1925. Print. 182
This is not directly thinking about what someone else thinks mostly because Septimus is dead. However, this sentence puts the reader under the impression that Clarissa knew exactly what Septimus thought and felt before he died. She tries to connect her feelings to his, and in doing that basically creates her own fantasy about what Septimus was feeling. This adds to Carissa as a character as well. It is clear she is not considerate of others feelings and not only assumes about their emotions/thoughts but creates her own to match others with what she is feeling. Yet again in this novel does another character feel they knew what Septimus was feeling and what his emotions were at the time. The feeling of loneliness still resonates long after Septimus is dead.
“Whats beauty anyway but ugliness if it hurts you? God, he doesnt exist, but nevertheless He is ugly. Hence, what comes from Him is ugly. Lynchers and business men, and that cockroach Hanby, especially.”
Kabnis really contradicts himself in these few lines. In the beginning of this passage he is on his knees calling for God to take away the beauty in the world and only leave him with the ugly. Then, in these few sentences he resents God and now believes that God does not exist. He also puts lynchers and business men on the same ‘ugly’ level which I find a little disturbing because clearly lynchers are worse. Readers can truly see how distraught Kabnis is at this point in the section.
Toomer, Jean. “Kabnis.” Cane. New York: Liveright, 2011. 114. Print.
“And to distinguish between the beautiful and the sublime, the dean added. To distinguish between moral beauty and material beauty. And to inquire what kind of beauty is proper to each of the various arts. These are some interesting points we might make up.”
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. pg. 159.
Difference between beautiful and sublime and how this affects Stephen. What does he distinguish himself as?
“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.
“He sealed the utterance with that smile of his, as though it had been a door opening into a darkness he had in his keeping.”
Joseph Conrad, “Heart of Darkness”, in Heart of Darkness and Other Tales (New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2002), 124.
“Since it was in Time that he was to have met his fate, so it was in Time that his fate was to have acted; and as he walked up to the sense of no longer being young, which was exactly the sense of being stale, just as that, in turn, was the sense of being weak, he walked up to another matter beside. It all hung together; they were subject, he and the great vagueness, to an equal and indivisible law. When the possibilities themselves had, accordingly, turned stale, when the secret of the gods had grown faint, had perhaps even quite evaporated, that, and that only was failure.”
Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories and Essays (New York: Library of America, 1999), 469-470.
It is interesting to see how Marcher views growing old. If he is to grow old he loses his purpose and suddenly becomes weak. Failure seems to be his biggest concern. I also noticed how ‘time’ had been capitalized but ‘gods’ had not been. Readers can see where his concerns lie in this passage.