“Attila exhibited a love of humanity which was sometimes disconcerting…It was well that Attila had no powers of speech. Otherwise he would have burst into a lamentation which would have shattered the pedestal under his feet”
Narayan, R. K. Malgudi Days: Attila. New York: Penguin, 2006. 98-101. Print.
“She was one of the most unimportantly wicked women of her time – because she could not let her time alone, and yet could never be a part of it. She wanted to be the reason for everything and so was the cause of nothing.”
Barnes, Djuna, and T. S. Eliot. Nightwood. New York: New Directions, 1961. Print. 74
Over the course of my past commonplaces, many characters reflect on themselves through techniques like stream of consciousness and free indirect discourse. “A Beast in the Jungle” depicts how two characters meet again after a few years, “It affected him as the sequel of something of which he had lost the beginning.” Readers can relate to Marcher’s introspective feeling of missing out on something, and understand also the feeling of knowing someone but being unable to remember how he knows her. In “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” a similar moment of self-reflection occurs with Stephen when “a new wild life was singing in his veins.” This sentence describes Stephen’s introspection and self-revelation. From this, we learn about Stephen’s character of being a self-thinker and being self-conscious of his own growth and progress. In “Mrs. Dalloway,” a similar moment of self- reflection is seen, though it is a realization of Mrs. Dalloway’s rather destructive thoughts: “It rasped her, though, to have stirring about in her this brutal monster.”Clarissa Dalloway catches herself thinking badly of Miss Kilman and feels guilty about it, as expressed in “it rasped her.”Tracking growth also means tracking one’s own unpleasant thoughts and she does marks her own personal growth by acknowledging her own unpleasant thoughts. This same theme introspective thoughts is shown in “Nightwood” when it is said that “She was one of the most unimportantly wicked women of her time.” This quote shows an acceptance of one’s flaws, the “monster” or “wild life” of personal development. Through these four novels, we can see this concept of internal thoughts and opinions which track personal growth move from merely observing one’s thoughts to the acknowledgment of flaws.
“She knew now that marriage did not make love. Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman.”
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013. p.30
“Please don’t abuse me,” the girl said, “I haven’t said anything to you.”
“You annoy me with your silence, you illegally begotten! You eater of dung and drinker of urine! You bitch of a sweeper woman! I will show you how to insult one old enough to be your mother.” And she rose with upraised arm and rushed at Sohini.
Mulk Raj Anand, Untouchable (New York: Penguin Books, 1940), 25.
The language here is interesting because it isn’t the way one would typically speak in English. Sohini speaks English as if it is not their first language: simply and formally. Gulabo’s angry rant is also derogatory but formal to an extent. This might reflect the time period of post-colonialism or it could also reflect their class system as lowly untouchables or Dalit.
“Sometimes I think it aint none of us pure crazy and aint none of us pure sane until the balance of us talks him that-a-way. It’s like it aint so much what a fellow does, but it’s the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it.”
Sanity is relative, but I think this also points out how everything is relative to the opinions of the majority.
“She pervades poetry from cover to cover; she is all but absent from history.”
Woolf writes about how women are consistently present in writing but never actually doing any of the writing. It is a contradiction of a female’s existence that she is a being to be written about but lacks the freedom to write. She critiques sexism and the oppression faced by women writers.
“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.
“It rasped her, though, to have stirring about in her this brutal monster! to hear twigs cracking and feel hooves planted down in the depths of that leaf-encumbered forest, the soul; the brute would be stirring, this hatred, which, especially since her illness, had power to make her feel scraped, hurt in her spine; give her physical pain, and made all pleasure in beauty, in friendship, in being well, in being loved, and making her home delightful rock, quiver, and bend as if indeed there were a monster grubbing at the roots, as if the whole panoply of content were nothing but self love! this hatred!”
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2005) pg 12
This passage is so interesting to me because it describes Mrs Dalloway’s deepest feelings. It’s almost as if it is narrating her psyche.
“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.”
Toomer, Jean. “Kabnis.” Cane. New York: Liveright, 2011. 152. Print.
“The water of the rivulet was dark and mirrored the highdrifting clouds. The clouds were drifting above him silently and silently the seatangle was drifting below him; and the grey warm air was still: and a new wild life was singing in his veins.”
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pg. 144
This is an interesting juxtaposition of the clouds above and the movement of water below Stephen parallels the image of the heaven above and the underworld.
“Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo. . . . His father told him that story: his father looked at him through a glass: he had a hairy face. He was a baby tuckoo. The moocow came down the road where Betty Byrne lived: she sold lemon platt.
O, the wild rose blossoms On the little green place.
He sang that song. That was his song.
O, the green wothe botheth.
When you wet the bed first it is warm then it gets cold. His mother put on the oilsheet. That had the queer smell.”
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pg. 5
Joyce captures the thought process of a child, where there is no apparent sense of time.
“Black shapes, crouched, lay, sat between the trees, leaning against the trunks, clinging to the earth, half coming out, half effaced within the dim light, in all the attitudes of pain, abandonment, and despair. Another mine on the cliff went off, followed by a slight shudder of the soil under my feet. The work was going on. The work! And this was the place where some of the helpers had withdrawn to die.”
Joseph Conrad, “Heart of Darkness,” in Heart of Darkness and Other Tales (New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2002), 118.
Marlow can’t exactly make out the bodies, and realizes that this is the place where the diseased come to die.
“It affected him as the sequel of something of which he had lost the beginning. He knew it, and for the time quite welcomed it, as a continuation, but didn’t know what it continued, which was an interest, or an amusement, the greater as he was also somehow aware–yet without a direct sign from her–that the young woman herself had not lost the thread”.
Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories & Essays (New York: Library of America, 1999), 446.
Brilliant way of describing the sensation of that moment in which we all try to recall how we know a person when meeting them for the first time after several years (or ten).