Malgudi Days

“I made preparations to leave the town in a couple of days, leaving the engine to its fate, with all its commitments. However, nature came to my rescue in an unexpected manner.” (84)

Narayan, R. K. Malgudi Days. Engine Trouble. New York: Penguin, 2006. Print.

I picked this passage because of how it represents the troubles that the poor people in India have throughout this novel, and how everything seems to come down to “fate” or luck, although in reality a lot of the misfortunes come from the cause and effect relationship between people that have much more power and influence over the institutions, like local government, that then effect these people in every day lives.

Malgudi Days

“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.

Malgudi Days: “Atilla”

“It was as well that Attila had no powers of speech. Otherwise he would have burst into a lamentation which could have shattered the pedestal under his feet.”

The irony of the incorrect assumption that Attila has captured the burglar for the protection of the family is only made possible through an indirect discourse I have never quite seen (through an animal) like, “Atilla’s greatest ambition in life was to wander in the streets freely”(100). The “powers of speech” the dog does not possess are made possible through this indirect speech that focalizes a dog, with a great humorous effect.

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.

Malgudi Days

“‘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.

Malgudi Days: Missing Mail

‘No prize yet,’ he announced to him every day. ‘But don’t be disheartened.’ ‘Your interest has been delayed this month somehow,’ he said to another. ‘Your son at Hyderabad has written again, madam. How many children has he now?’ ‘I did not know that you had applied for this Madras job; you haven’t cared to tell me!’

Narayan, R K. Malgudi Days. Edison, NJ: Vista India, 2005. Print

Narayan establishes the setting by naming the streets and stops on Thanappa’s mail route. Through snippets of Thanappa’s dialogue, Narayan offers the reader insight on the kind of relationships Thanappa has with others and the type of people that live there.

Malgudi Days

“Attila was the hero of the day. Even the lady of the house softened towards him. She said, ‘Whatever one might say of Attila, one has to admit that his is a very cunning detective. He is too deep for words.’ 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.” (101)

Narayan, R K. Malgudi Days. Edison, NJ: Vista India, 2005. Print

“An Astrologer’s Day”

“There was a pause as cars hooted on the road, jukta-drivers swore at their horses and the babble of the crowd agitated the semi-darkness of the park. The other sat down, sucking his cheroot, puffing out, sat there ruthlessly. The astrologer felt very uncomfortable.”

R.K. Narayan. Malgudi Days (New York: Penguin Books, 2006), 12.

The astrologer’s moment of realization is expressed through a zooming out and then in of perspective. The “pause” is what the astrologer alone feels, as his external environment carries on and “agitates” his feelings of discomfort. To the astrologer, the “other” sits “ruthlessly” because he alone feels “very uncomfortable.”

Narayan – Malgudi Days

“‘That swine has cheated me! He promised me a rupee’, said the astrologer.” (13)

Narayan, R K. Malgudi Days. Edison, NJ: Vista India, 2005. Print

This realization at the end of the story is especially ironic. The astrologer is able to successfully trick Guru Nayak into believing that the man that stabbed him years before is dead. Instead of being relieved that he has escaped his own death, he is angry at the amount of money he has received from Guru Nayak.

Historical Line

“The perfume that her body exhaled was of the quality of that earth-flesh, fungi, which smells of captured dampness and yet is so dry, overcast with the odour of oil of amber, which is an inner malady of the sea, making her seem as if she had invaded a sleep incautious and entire. Her flesh was the texture of plant life, and beneath it one sensed a frame, broad, porous and sleep-worn, as if sleep were a decay fishing her beneath the visible surface. About her head there was an effulgence as of phosphorous glowing about the circumference of a body of water – as if her life lay through her in ungainly luminous deteriorations – the troubling structure of the born somnambulate.”

Barnes, Djuna, and T. S. Eliot. Nightwood. New York: New Directions, 1961. Print. 
In this quote is a description of Robin after she faints in her hotel room. The incredibly poetic language describes her beautifully. It shows what Barnes was capable of as a writer while giving the character Robin a great physical description.
In Henry James’ The Beast in the Jungle, there is the quote, “May Bertram, whose face, a reminder, yet not quite a remembrance.” He was one of the first authors for us to read this semester as well as one of the earlier voices in American literature. This short segment illustrates a basic example of James’ use of embedding information into sentences through breaks created by commas and hyphens. He was one of the great maximalist writers who believed in using a lot of words to accomplish a little. Following James we have Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The quote, “The world for all its solid substance and complexity no longer existed for his soul save as a theorem of divine power and love and universality.” In this quote we see a different style of writing altogether. Joyce prefers the 3rd person narrator as a way to jump between different character’s thoughts. Here we see Joyce recounting Stephen’s take on the soul, obviously way different that how Henry James would have done the same thing. Later, in her novel Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Wolfe writes, “It was their idea of tragedy, not his or Rezia’s (for she was with him),” from the mind of Septimus before his suicide. Here we see Wolfe use the 3rd person narrator to get within a character’s mind like Joyce but also include extra information in her sentence like James, the difference being that she uses parenthesis instead of commas or hyphens. Last we have the quote, “It was a discord between person and circumstance by which a lion like him lay enmeshed in a net while many a common criminal wore a rajah’s crown,” from Anand’s Untouchable. In this quote all we see similar is use of a 3rd person narrator with a little bit of mind reading but nowhere near the extent present in Joyce’s or Wolfe’s novels. This serves to illustrate the great change in writing styles throughout the course of the early 20th century.

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 timeline

“…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.

Nightwood// Historical Timeline

“Nora robbed herself for everyone; incapable of giving herself warning, she was continually turning about to find herself diminished. Wandering people the world over found her profitable in that she could be sold for a price forever, for she carried her betrayal money in her own pocket”

Barnes, Djuna, and T. S. Eliot. Nightwood. New York: New Directions, 1961. Print. 56.

Nora was a victim of her own passions and could be easily be used by those she loved. Her own self “diminished” through her tendency to give all of herself to others. The concept of offering oneself to others or being utilized by others to the extent of losing part of oneself is a common theme in the books we have read. In Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, when Janie is married to Jody, he controls her actions and at times denies her a voice by speaking for her. Through her love for him, she remains in the restrictive relationship, which diminishes part of Janie before she eventually speaks up for herself. In Anand’s Untouchable, Bakha experiences the same kind of diminishing of himself, though not through love or passion. He is however diminished by others’ utilization of him, since he the lowest of the lower-caste Indians and his actions are dictated by others. Clarissa, in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, spends the length of the novel planning a party to please other people and is a character whose actions cater to what she thinks others expect of her. In Henry James’s The Beast in the Jungle, Marcher is a victim of his own passion for the unknown. His entire life is dedicated to his fear of the unknown, and consequently, part of himself is diminished.

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.

Nightwood-Historical Timeline

“She closed her eyes, and at that moment she knew an awful happiness. Robin, like something dormant, was protected, moved out of death’s way by the successive arms of women; but as she closed her eyes, Nora said “Ah!” with the intolerable automatism of the last “Ah!” in a body struck at the moment of it’s final breath.”

Barnes, Djuna, and T. S. Eliot. Nightwood. New York: New Directions, 1961. Print. 70

This is a moment in which Nora witnesses a woman dying after falling from a statue, at first thinking it was Robin, but after seeing her up close “Nora said “Ah!”‘ out of relief that this wasn’t Robin.

This quote also leads me to linking the subject of death into Nightwood, Whose Body, Mrs. Dalloway, and As I Lay Dying. I specifically chose this order because I believe in terms of how death correlates within these stories have the most commonalties in this order. In Nightwood Robin is seeking death from those who wronged her, hence murdering them. This concedes with Whose Body because Peter Whimsey is trying to solve a murder, so in one, one murders, in the other, one solves the murder. The way Mrs. Dalloway links with Whose Body is the way the war effects death in the the characters relationship to death. Peter and Septimus both being war veterans have a unique relationship to death, having been literally surrounded by it for the length of time they were deployed, and both taking up residence in Great Britain, and both having PTSD or shell shock from their experience in the war. However the difference in how they cope ends up drastically different, Septimus taking his own life and Peter goes around solving murders, still having a close relationship to death. Mrs. Dalloway and As I Lay Dying share the likeness of having both characters who die being central to the story’s outcome. Septimus of course being a central POV character, and vital to Clarissa changing her way of thinking. If not for Addie Bundren the story wouldn’t even exist, they would never go to bury her and Darl wouldn’t have been institutionalized. You can also connect these two by connecting Darl and Septimus, I believe it says somewhere that Darl participated in the war, one might make his insanity connection to the war combined with his mother’s death. Outside of the story the two share similar methods of telling the story, albeit one written in 3rd person and the other in 1st they both feature multiple perspectives on the outcome of the story.

Nightwood/Historical Line

“‘My war brought me many things; lets yours bring you as much. Life is not to be told, call it as loud as you like, it will not tell itself. No one will be much or little except in someone else’s mind, so be careful of the minds you get into, and remember Lady Macbeth, who had her mind in her had. We can’t all be as safe as that.'”

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

As we read on from Joyce to Hurston, there was a growth of social order and gender positions. If we focus solely on the passages I have chosen rather than the context they are presented in, we see a chronological similarity in the way higher class and lower class differ and where men and women fall on that spectrum. There was a superiority in being a priest or religious figure in Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man and this superiority caused those like Stephen to fall under them. For instance, his mistakes were punishable whereas the mistakes of those religious figures were not. When the priest did wrong, no one was held accountable because of the way they fall on the spectrum of society. Similarly, greatness hidden in the vehicle that Mrs. Dalloway sees holds a physical entity of someone who will be remembered for as long as the Earth lives on, however she will not be remembered by all. Although, the person in the car was never revealed, the Earth will age, and those looking on will decompose into the ground, and still whoever remains in the car will remain alive beyond death because of the social order they all lie on. Then we see social order in the form of man versus woman. Anand shows the way expectations of women can change the way they act towards others, that their pride to be seen as a man shapes their behavior when they can no longer be that definition. The definition being that men were made to work and be seen as strong and women be made to cook, clean, raise a family and look pretty. A vivid description of physicality and the weapon it is against the strength women have in Hurston shows that hard work is actually what women fear the most to put them down as we see in that scene. There is an assumption that women are there to look pretty and not work and the men are made to work: a social order of gender just as there is a social order of class. We see how, although all these stories were written during different time periods, there is a consistency of superiority versus inferiority and a social order of class and gender that divides characters in all these novels.


“This dream that now had all its parts had still the former quality of never really having been her grandmother’s room. She herself did not seem to be there in person, nor able to give an invitation. She had wanted to put her hands on something in this room to prove it; the dream had never permitted her to do so.”

Barnes, Djuna, and T. S. Eliot. Nightwood. New York: New Directions, 1961. Print. 68.

This passage caught my attention because I believe it outlines the restriction inflicted upon the main character, which I believe to be prevalent in many of our readings. This internal conflict can be noted in Untouchable, where Bakha wants to announce to the Mahatma that he, an Untouchable, is there but in the end he does not pull through. This concept is outlined throughout the entirety of Heart of Darkness where Marcher is at a constant battle with his true feelings about life and about May. This trapped feeling is also seen in the characters of Cane, where they are surrounded by suffrage with no escape. I think that in many novels, there is a character succumbed by internal conflict and the feeling of being trapped, either in an environment or in one’s self. I believe that this aspect is important towards personal growth and development within a novel.

Nightwood // historical timeline

“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.

Nightwood/Historical Timeline

“He remarked, and why he did not know, that by weeping she appeared like a single personality who, by multiplying her tears, brought herself into the position of one who seen twenty times in twenty mirrors–still only one, but many times distressed.”

Barnes, Djuna. Nightwood. New Directions, 1937. Print. 81.

In this passage, a strange comparison is being made in regard to the emotion that is being felt.  It sounds as though he feels that her crying is pointless, in a way, but also adds to the emotion she is feeling.


Historical timeline…

Focusing on four of my previous posts, I observed that in the texts we have read, they are full of descriptions and FID.  In The Beast in the Jungle and the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the descriptions in both text are so rich that they give a deeper level of emotion to the text than what is seen on the surface.  Then, in texts like Mrs. Dalloway and Untouchable, free indirect discourse guides the texts deeper understanding by allowing more room for the texts to be pushed upon and infer deeper meanings.


“Hearing his ‘come in’ she opened the door and for one second hesitated, so incredible was the disorder that met her eyes. The room was so small it was just possible to walk sideways up to the bed; it was as if being condemned to the grave the doctor had decided to occupy it with the utmost abandon.” (84)

Barnes, Djuna. Nightwood. New Directions, 1937. Print

Thinking of the historical change throughout the novels we have read this year, they all seem to have common themes but are presented through different ideas/mediums in the different novels. Starting with Heart of Darkness, we are opened to the inner monologues of our character, but it is all by direct reported speech through his story telling frame. And the theme itself of imperialism and colonization is something else that we see repeated in the course. In A Portrait of the Artist as  Young Man, we again are taken into the inner monologue of a character, but this time in the third person and mainly through free indirect discourse. And in this novel we are introduced to the bildungsroman type of story with the coming of age of Stephen Dedalus. Then in Mrs. Dalloway we again see free indirect discourse to give us thoughts and ideas of different characters, while also coming back to the idea of imperialism and war with the backdrop of World War I a constant theme. And in Their Eyes Were Watching God we still have a type of frame narrative like in Heart of Darkness, but the narrative voice is shifted from first to third, giving us more instances of free indirect discourse. This novel also brings in the ideas of nation building, race, and is a kind of anti-bildungsroman, set in the early 1900s south. And we finally end up with Nightwood, another third person narrative that uses instances of free indirect discourse while also showing this through different characters. The chosen quote I found to shed some light to the doctor, who up until this point we don’t really know too much about his history or past, but he has also been in almost every scene of the novel and given us lots of information through his dialogue and through instances of free indirect discourse.