“‘My dear father: By the time you see this letter I shall be at the bottom of Sarayu. I don’t want to live. Don’t worry about me. You have other sons who are not such dunces as I am-‘”
Suicide is a serious topic which is somewhat glossed over because it is quickly brought up and then the story is over with. This short story highlights the fact that suicide can come out of nowhere with such strong feelings attached to it. At the end of some of the stories in this novel, there are “lessons” or important topics brought up, but the loose ends are not tied up, leaving the reader wanting more. (60)
R.K. Narayan. Malgudi Days. (New York: Penguin Books.) 2006.
“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.
“Janie was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation. Then Janie felt a pain remorseless sweet that left her limp and languid.”
This representation of the “bees and the flowers” is very similar to the “birds and the bees” concept. Here, Janie is exploring her idea of love and romanticism. I believe that Janie is trying to discover her desires and the world around her, as she is engrossed in nature in this moment.
Zora Neale Hurston. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Ebook. Chapter 2.
“He felt abashed at being seen absorbed in talking to himself. They always made a butt of him, ridiculing the weight of his body, the shape of his clothes, his gait, which was a bit like an elephant’s, on account of his heavy, swaying buttocks, and a bit like a tiger’s, lithe and supple.”
As the page continues, expressions of bullying are displayed. As I read this section, I made a comparison with the tone through out the story. There are a lot of negative descriptions in this novel, which makes tone somewhat dark.
Mulk Raj Anand. Untouchable. (New York: Penguin Books, 1940). 34.
“I said to Dewey Dell: “You want her to die so you can get to town: is that it?” She wouldn’t say what we both knew. “The reason you will not say it is, when you say it, even to yourself, you will know it is true: is that it? But you know it is true now. I can almost tell you the day when you knew it is true. Why wont you say it, even to yourself?” She will not say it.”
William Faulkner. As I Lay Dying. (New York: Vintage International, 1985). 39-40.
-“If she could have felled her it would have eased her. But it was not the body; it was the soul and its mockery that she wished to subdue; make feel her mastery. If only she could make her weep; could ruin her; humiliate her; bring her to her knees crying, You are right! But this was God’s will, not Miss Kilman’s.”
-“Clarissa was really shocked. This a Christian – this woman! This woman had taken her daughter from her! She in touch with invisible presences! Heavy, ugly, commonplace, without kindness or grace, she know the meaning of life!”
-This section of the novel shows an inner conflict between Clarissa and Miss Kilman. With minimal dialogue, these two characters are able to have a full blown disagreement. This internal dialogue represents the theme of thought through out the novel. They are both thinking about one another in negative ways, as they analyze and address their issues with each other internally. Their thoughts express what is really going on here.
Virginia Woolf. Mrs. Dalloway. (New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2005) 122.
“The way she said “Here is my Elizabeth!”— that annoyed him. Why not “Here’s Elizabeth” simply? It was insincere. And Elizabeth didn’t like it either. (Still the last tremors of the great booming voice shook the air round him; the half-hour; still early; only half-past eleven still.) For he understood young people; he liked them. There was always something cold in Clarissa, he thought. She had always, even as a girl, a sort of timidity, which in middle age becomes conventionality, and then it’s all up, it’s all up, he thought, looking rather drearily into the glassy depths, and wondering whether by calling at that hour he had annoyed her; overcome with shame suddenly at having been a fool; wept; been emotional; told her everything, as usual, as usual.”
In this quote, readers are given some outside description of Mrs. Dalloway. Although while reading up until this point, it is clear to me that Mrs. Dalloway is trying just a little too hard to impress people at her party. “Here is my Elizabeth” is almost her way of bragging about her daughter, treating her like a piece of furniture. Peter gives off mixed feelings about Clarissa when he calls her “cold.”
“White folks feed it cause their looks are words. Niggers, black niggers feed it cause theyre evil an their looks are words. Yallar niggers feed it. This whole damn bloated purple country feeds it cause its goin down t hell in a holy avalanche of words. I want t feed th soul – I know what that is; th preachers don’t – but I’ve got t feed it. I wish t God some lynchin white man ud stick his knife through it an pin it to a tree. Am pin it to a tree. You hear me? That’s a wish f y, you little snot-nosed pups who’ve been makin fun of me, an fakin that I’m weak. Me, Ralph Kabnis weak. Ha.” (152)
Toomer, Jean. “Kabnis.” Cane. New York: Liveright, 2011. 152. Print.
“A glow of desire kindled again his soul and fired and fulfilled all his body. Conscious of his desire she was waking from odorous sleep, the temptress of his villanelle. Her eyes, dark and with a look of languor, were opening to his eyes. Her nakedness yielded to him, radiant, warm, odorous, and lavishlimbed, enfolded him like a shining cloud, enfolded him like water with a liquid life: and like a cloud of vapour or like waters circumfluent in space the liquid letters of speech, symbols of the element of mystery, flowed forth over his brain.” (187-188)
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).
The imagery and comparisons are dominating this quotation. Stephen seems to be describing a feeling of love and lust by saying the words desire, temptress, warm, and radiant all together. This feeling of “mystery” lingers with him as he thinks about this experience.
“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
“His mouth was as dry as a cinder, and his face was wet with perspiration-and tears. What was it all about? He thought it must be a horrible illusion; he thought he was dreaming; he thought he was going mad! After a while he collected his senses. What did they quarrel about? That sugar! How absurd!”
Joseph Conrad, “Heart of Darkness”, in Heart of Darkness and Other Tales (New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2002) 21.
“He continued to attach his eyes to her, and with the sense that it was all beyond him, and that she was too, he would still have sharply challenged her, had he not felt it an abuse of her weakness to do more than take devoutly what she gave him, take it as hushed as to a revelation. If he did speak, it was out of the foreknowledge of his loneliness to come.”
“The Beast in the Jungle.” In The Better Sort. New York: Scribner, 1903. Internet Archive. http://archive.org/details/bettersort00jamegoog. 231