“Attila exhibited a love of humanity which was sometimes disconcerting.”
Narayan, R.K. Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin, 2006. (98)
Strange that they should feel disconcerted for a dog that likes them. Opposite emotions of what you would expect. Similar to “A Father’s Help” when Swami is upset that he is not being disciplined.
(Commonplace for Barnes posted last week)
I think it is interesting to note that through the large timeline we have covered in this class, most of the books share at least a few moments where the characters reflect on themselves and on how they interact with the others around them, whether it be through stream of consciousness, free indirect discourse, or dialogue. “A Beast in the Jungle” simply describes how the two characters “looked at each other as with the feeling of an occasion missed,” which allows for readers to relate to the feeling of missing out on something, and understand not only the look that the two characters are giving each other, but also the feeling that they have about one another, where they know each other but cannot place how, and feel guilty about it but also longing for one another. This quote involves the characters interacting with one another, and allows the readers to therefore see insight to their characters and to their relationship with one another. In “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” a similar moment occurs when “Stephen tried to laugh with them. He felt his whole body hot and confused in a moment.” This sentence describes Stephen’s actions and physical feelings of trying to laugh and feeling confused and embarrassed. From this, we can learn about Stephen’s character of being self-conscious and seeking the approval of his peers. In “Mrs. Dalloway,” a moment like this is shared between Mr. and Mrs. Dalloway when “she understood; she understood without his speaking.” Through Mr. Dalloway giving his wife flowers and through implied exchanged glances during this moment, the Dalloways can essentially read each other’s minds. This tells a lot about their relationship and about themselves, about how although they are not the most happily married couple, they know each other very well and also are quiet people of few words. This same theme of a relationship is relayed in “Nightwood” when it is said that “‘one of two things: to find someone who is so stupid that he can lie to her, or to love someone so much that she can lie to him.’” This quote speaks poorly of relationships, and tells how the characters of this novel are very pessimistic and cynical about the concept of relationships. Through these four novels, we can see that as we progressed through this course and through the twentieth century, this concept of interpersonal relationships seems to become less and less idealized and more cynical about the nature of humanity. However, the type of writing that conveyed people’s thoughts and opinions about other people but ended up speaking to their own character, definitely remained and carried through the century.
“‘One of two things: to find someone who is so stupid that he can lie to her, or to love someone so much that she can lie to him.'”
Barnes, Djuna. Nightwood. New York: Norton, 2006. p 23
The doctor says this to the Baron and Felix, implying that there must be some sort of lying involved in love. It insists that a woman has to either be stupid or manipulative.
“She had waited all her life for something, and it had killed her when it found her.”
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013. p. 144.
Overall in Janie’s life, it seems as if everything that happens to her that seems good is actually a curse in disguise. Whether it be Tea Cake stealing her money, or Jody beating her or putting her down, Janie is constantly shut down by her significant others as they surprise her by revealing a dark side she didn’t know they had, leading her to not be able to trust anyone.
“The expectant outcastes were busy getting their pitchers ready, but as that only meant shifting themselves into position so to be nearest to this most bountiful, most generous of men, all their attention was fixed on him. And as that disclosed the apparent effort the athlete was making, they exerted all their energies, all their will-power to aid him in his task.”
Anand, Mulk Raj, Untouchable. New York: Penguin Books, 1940. Print. 28.
They perceive the priest as “bountiful,” “generous,” and an “athlete” simply due to his ability to retrieve water. Their perspectives are clearly very skewed, and they are clearly very underprivileged and desperate.
“A good carpenter. Addie Bundren could not want a better one, a better box to lie in. It will give her confidence and comfort.”
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (New York: Vintage International, 1985), 4-5.
Addie’s coffin is introduced before her character. This shows the impermanence of life and of identity, and the fact that Addie’s life is mostly defined by her death.
“She understood; she understood without his speaking; his Clarissa.”
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, 1925. Print. 115.
This sentence assumes that Mrs. Dalloway is capable of reading the mind of her husband, and understanding that by giving her flowers, he was thinking of her as: “his Clarissa.” It implies that the two know each other and understand each other very well. However, Mr. Dalloway brought his wife the flowers with the intention of telling her that he loved her, although he ended up being unable to say it. His lack of ability to come out and say this implies that he does not love her at all, and this mind-read implies that maybe Mrs. Dalloway herself gets that. Her validity in her assumptions about his thoughts are likely accurate, since she did assume that he meant to say “his Clarissa,” not “I love you,” which is a declaration of ownership more than it is one of love. However, since Mr. and Mrs. Dalloway are obviously not very close (not even close enough for him to feel comfortable saying that he loves her) her validity in knowing what he is thinking is somewhat questionable, since she may not know him as well as a typical wife would know her husband. This relates to the rest of the novel because the very title in itself–“Mrs. Dalloway”–implies a sense of ownership of Mr. Dalloway over his wife, since Mrs. Dalloway’s first name is not even given to the readers until further on in the novel. Mrs. Dalloway’s struggle for her own identity and agency is a huge theme in the novel, and this sentence of her knowing that her husband is very possessive and objectifying of her, expresses that theme.
“…that was only her dear Peter at his worst; and he could be intolerable; he could be impossible; but adorable to walk with on a morning like this.”
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, 1925. Print. 6.
Describing Peter in negative ways but then following it with how adorable he is to walk with, shows that Mrs. Dalloway still cares about Peter and enjoys his company, regardless of how annoyed she may get by him at times. It also shows her desire to keep up her appearances, and that she does not care how “intolerable” or “impossible” someone is, as long as he helps her appear well in public while they are walking together.
“Ralph Kabnis, propped on his bed, tries to read. To read himself to sleep. An oil lamp on a hair near his elbow burns unsteadily. The cabin room is spaced fantastically about it. Whitewashed hearth and chimney, black with sooty saw-teeth.”
Toomer, Jean. “Kabnis.” Cane. New York: Liveright, 2011. 111. Print.
Ralph tries “to read himself to sleep” to immerse himself in a story that is not his own. The unsteadily burning lamp is like his life, and his mind, always on edge. He recognizes that his room is whitewashed physically, as his society is whitewashed with white people in charge. His own life is tainted with “black… sooty-saw teeth.” Even he perceives blackness as being bad. This says a lot about how his mind has been whitewashed.
“Now, as never before, his strange name seemed to him a prophecy. So timeless seemed the grey warm air, so fluid and impersonal his own mood, that all ages were as one to him. A moment before the ghost of the ancient kingdom of the Danes had looked forth through the vesture of the hazewrapped city. Now, at the name of the fabulous artificer, he seemed to hear the noise of dim waves and to see a winged form flying above the waves and slowly climbing in the air.”
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Oxford UP, 2000. Print. 142.
Stephen’s dreams and aspirations for himself lead him to believe that he may be a prophet. He develops hopes for a new soul and a new spirit for himself in his life as a priest.
“They all laughed again. Stephen tried to laugh with them. He felt his whole body hot and confused in a moment. What was the right answer to this question? He had given two and still Wells laughed.”
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 11.
Speaks to Wells’s character as a bully. Also speaks to Stephen’s character, desperately seeking approval, even when it has already been predetermined that he won’t receive it.
“‘They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force–nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others.'”
Joseph Conrad, “Heart of Darkness”, in Heart of Darkness and Other Tales (New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2002), 107.
Marlow takes the power away from the conquerors by pointing it out that they only appear strong because they pick on the weak. He makes them seem like petty bullies rather than “conquerors.”
“They looked at each other as with the feeling of an occasion missed; the present one would have been so much better if the other, in the far distance, in the foreign land, hadn’t been so stupidly meagre.”
Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories & Essays(New York: Library of America, 1999), 448.
Narrator uses “far distance” and “foreign land” to describe the feeling of forgetting the past that seems physically far away. Marcher blames the situation for being uneventful and “meagre,” and believes that is the reason he cannot remember meeting May.