Malgudi Days.

” Where is the headmaster ? “

” Why do you want him ? “

” My father has sent a letter for him.”

” He has taken the afternoon off, and won’t come for a week. You can give the letter to the assistant headmaster. He will be here now.”

” Who is he ? “

” Your teacher, Samuel. He will be here in a second.”

Swaminathan fled from the place. As soon as Swami went home with the letter, father remarked : ” I knew you wouldn’t deliver it, you coward.”

This dialogue displays a unique type of ending that is used in Malgudi Days. That is, the stories play with the readers expectations. Each story is typically resolved with a subversion of the character’s wants or wishes. 

Malgudi Days: Attila

“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. 101. Print.

This technique of explaining what another character thought, is very reminiscent of Mrs. Dalloway. How Woolf would have her characters mind read other characters’ minds. This is exactly the same as what Narayan does in this passage to describe how Attila, a dog felt, and thought. Using discourse to represent what Attila thought, he thought “he would have burst into lamentation which would have shattered the pedestal under his feet.”

Malgudi Days: Attila

“But as time passed our Attila exhibited a love of humanity which was sometimes disconcerting. The Scourge of Europe -could be ever have been like this? they put it down to his age. What child could help loving all creatures?”

Narayan, R. K. “”Attila”” Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin, 2006. 101. Print.


“Please lock him up in a room at night, otherwise he might call in a burglar and show him round.”

I found the irony in this snarky comment rather amusing. Not only is this dog being insulted for his friendly nature, but it is being suggested that they have lost all faith that he can help their household. Although Attila does not bark or attack the burglar, the end result is in his favor.


R.K. Narayan. Malgudi Days. (New York: Penguin Books.) 2006. (99)

Malgudi Days: The Doctor’s Word

“At about eight in the evening, the patient opened his eyes and stirred slightly in bed… He sent away the assistant and sat beside the patient. At about eleven, the patient opened his eyes and smiled at his friend”

(Narayan, Malgudi Days: The Doctor’s Word, pg. 20)

The repetition of the narrator using the words “the patient” to describe Gopal creates a sense of distance between the doctor and his friend. The introductory paragraph of the short story establishes the fact that this doctor is known, and well liked for his blunt honesty in regards to the situation of his patients. That’s all they are to him. Patients. He can distance himself from them which allows him to do his job. This dear friend is now also being identified as a patient so that the doctor can focus on treating him like he would any other patient. “The patient opened his eyes and smiled at his friend”. Gopal is coming back to him, reminding the doctor that this man is more than just another patient.

Malgudi Day’s

“Swaminathan fled from the place. As soon as Swami went home with the letter, father
remarked : ” I knew you wouldn’t deliver it, you coward.”
” I swear our headmaster is on leave,” Swaminathan began.
Father replied : ” Don’t lie in addition to being a coward. . . .”
Swami held up the envelope and said : ” I will give this to the headmaster as soon as
he is back. . . .”
Father snatched it from his hand, tore it up, and thrust it into the wastepaper basket
under his table. He muttered : ” Don’t come to me for help even if Samuel
throttles you. You deserve your Samuel” (Narayan, Father’s Help, 91).


This ending really stuck out as a powerful and highly satirical if not ironic ending. Swami endured a punishment because he thought that getting a teacher fired endorsed punishment from that teacher but in the end nothing changed and he was punished wrongly again. Perhaps though, reading into it a little, that which scared Swami about being publicly humiliated was now conquered by being punished for nothing and inciting that punishment. Simply put, Swami conquered his fears by inciting them himself.

Malgudi Days

“When a dozen persons question openly or slyly a man’s sanity he begins to entertain serious doubts himself.” (Malgudi Days, 26)

This quote is from the very first line of Gateman’s Gift. I thought it was an interesting idea I had never considered before. If someone is constantly doubted in any aspect of their life then they will begin to feel doubtful themselves even if they were once confident. This quote emphasizes the power of suggestion and of influence by others.

Malgudi Days

“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.

Malgudi Days

“The snake, which was now less than three yards from me, lifted a quarter of its body, with a gentle flourish reared its head, fixed its round eyes on me and listened to the music without making the slightest movement. It might have been a carven snake in black stone, so still it was.”

R.K. Narayan. Malgudi Days (New York: Penguin Books, 2006). pg 77

The vivid descriptions of the snake bring it to life. The narrator is clearly terrified of this poisonous creature, but at the same time he is enraptured by its appearance and its response to his music. Narayan manages to capture both the danger of the animal and the beauty of it at the same time.

Nightwood/historical timeline

“This memory and the handkerchief that accompanied it had wrought in Guido (as certain flowers brought to a pitch of florid ecstasy no sooner attain their specific type than they fall into its decay) the sum total of what is the jew. He had walked, hot, incautious and damned, his eyelids quivering over the thick eyeballs, black with the pain of a participation that, four centuries later, made him a victim”

Barnes, Djuna. Nightwood. New York: Norton, 2006. pg 4

Throughout the course their has been a recurring theme of people being left behind by the forces of social progress. In The Heart of Darkness we see how social progress can be a danger to the people who society defines as primitive. In As I Lay Dying we see a divide between the more developed settlements and the underdeveloped rural areas and we see how this dived can be used to exploit people from the less developed area. In The Untouchable we see how even a force of positive social progress like Gandhi’s revolution can still leave people behind. In Their Eyes Were Watching God we see how little social progress does for the people that a society forgets. In Nightwood we see this as well.


“Robin was outside the ‘human type’—a wild thing caught in a woman’s skin, monstrously alone, monstrously vain”


A common theme in this book is lonesomeness and separation.  A person being outside of the human type isn’t something natural to say.  Being caught in the skin of something that they’re socially supposed to be isn’t seemingly natural.  It even says that’s she’s monstrously alone.  This sentence alone, and I’ve noticed other people commonplaced this same one, is extremely telling in that it opens us up to the complete separation from the norm being experienced here.    Someone else wrote about how closely this “outside the human type” is related to that of the Untouchables.  But you can find that person on the outs in pretty much everything we’ve read in this class, from Darl in his family to Nick in the woods alone after coming home from war.


“There’s something evil in me that loves evil and degradation–purity’s black backside! That loves honesty with a horrid love; or why have I always gone seeking it at the liar’s door?” Pg 144

This is an admission of the guilt that Nora feels. She feels bad for taking her wealth over the equality of Robin. She knows her Robin’s wealth won’t appreciate.

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.

“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 section of the passage draws attention to the narrators inability to proceed with the action she wants to do. It’s reminiscent of Untouchable where Bakha wishes to speak out in the crowd, but feels something inside holding him back. It connects to other characters as well when we consider that when a character is forbidden from doing something, it only makes them want too more. In Portrait, many of Stevens desires are kept within, because the religious upbringing he has makes him feel shame for having them. Eventually, this causes him to rebel and only pursue the actions more.

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.

Barnes/Historical Timeline.


“Then she began to bark also, crawling after him -barking in a fit of laughter, obscene and touching. The dog began to cry, running with her, head-on with her head, as if to circumvent her; soft and slow hi feet went. He ran this way and that, low down in his throat crying, and she grinning and crying with him; crying in short and shorter spaces, moving head to head, until she gave up, lying out her hands beside her, her face turned and weeping; and the dog too gave up then, and lay own, his eyes bloodshot, his head flat along her knees” (Nightwood, 150)

Each book we have read has touched on many themes, brushing over politics, class, race, as well as characters finding and learning things about themselves through various obstacles. It seems as if, in Barnes Nightwoodthe characters Nora and Robin are trapped in their oppressed natures, this being a theme of many books, whether it be books that touch on race, such as Cane and Their Eyes Were Watching God. In Cane similar to Nightwood, we see characters realizing their oppression and having the answer to it, but being over ruled by the actions of others. Such as in Bona and Paul, where Paul tries to tell Bona what he’s figured out but she has already left him behind (Cane, 105-7). In contrast, Nightwood’s characters come together and leave Paris and go back to America, but Robin is still in unrest. Perhaps she feels she has betrayed her community of independents back in Paris. Though, In Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, the family which tries to bury their mother’s casket, faces many physical obstacles which are mostly direct results of class issues, such as the bridge being out and no other ways to cross, but using their own ingenuity. Many of the challenges Robin and Nora face as well as other characters are mainly mental challenges. Moving to Anand’s Untouchables, we see similar mental struggles with Bakha where he understands what he needs to do, but cannot explain it to self righteous and stubborn people around him and in his government. Again where as instead of changing things man characters in these three books just keep trying to survive and in turn are still oppressed by ignorance around them. Lastly, Hemingway suggestively shows the mental struggle of his characters, as well. But, his solution seems to be death, where death act as a liberator from ignorance; in contrast to Robin’s lashing out of a personality, which results in perceived pseudo insanity.

Nightwood – Historical Timeline

“Robin was outside the ‘human type’—a wild thing caught in a woman’s skin, monstrously alone, monstrously vain; like the paralyzed man in Coney Island…”

Barnes, Djuna, and T. S. Eliot. Nightwood. New York: New Directions, 1961. Print. 155

Robin is described as perpetually and monstrously alone. In this passage, she is depicted as a self absorbed character incapable of feeling empathy. A common subject illustrated in many of my commonplace passages is the theme of isolation. Similar to my Nightwood commonplace, my commonplace passage choices in The Beast in the Jungle, Cane, and Mrs. Dalloway, all explore the theme of lost identity and seclusion. In The Beast in the Jungle, Marcher feels completely alone once May dies: “She was dying and he would lose her; she was dying and his life would end” (James, 477). Marcher spends the entirety of his life anticipating a life altering event. By doing so, he is unable to truly love and appreciate his life. Once May finally dies, Marcher realizes that he is utterly detached and he feels completely alone in the world. While Marcher is internally alone, Becky in Cane is externally ostracized and isolated: “When the first was born, the white folks said they’d have no more to do with her. And black folks, they too joined hands to cast her out” (Toomer, 8). Because Becky has two black sons, she is secluded from her society. Becky is not accepted by both the black and white community, and as a result, she is completely isolated. In Mrs. Dalloway, Clarissa Dalloway also struggles with isolation and self identity: “But often now this body she wore (she stopped to look at a Dutch picture), this body, with all its capacities, seemed nothing — nothing at all. She had the oddest sense of being herself invisible; unseen; unknown; there being no more marrying, no more having of children now, but only this astonishing and rather solemn progress with the rest of them, up Bond Street, this being Mrs. Dalloway; not even Clarissa anymore; this being Mrs. Richard Dalloway” (Woolf, 10). Through her marriage, Clarissa loses her self-identity and feels entirely isolated. She feels insignificant and internally inaccessible. By planning a party, Clarissa is able to distract herself from her true feelings and insecurities. The theme of isolation in literature is significant because it exposes the true nature of each character. The theme of isolation allows the reader to distinguish external perception and internal reality.

Nightwood and Historical Timeline

“She was nervous about the future; it made her indelicate. 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. She had the fluency of tongue and action meted out by divine providence to those who cannot think for themselves. She was the master of the over-sweet phrase, the over-tight embrace.”

A common thread that I have noticed throughout several books we have read is that of a character not being able to really articulate their feelings or being able to act upon hat they desire. In the “Beast and the Jungle”, the quote I had chosen was “disconcerted almost equally by the presence of those who knew too much and by that of those who knew nothing”, a line that shows us Marcher at times might feel like he has many friends, and, at other times, has none and is rather lonely. In “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”, I had chosen the scene in which Stephen had just seen a  little girl after he decided to turn down priesthood. This little girl comes as a sign to Stephen, to cherish all that is around him and to celebrate life. Before having seen this girl, Stephen was lost by the choice he made. He needed a sign to find meaning in life again. Then in Mrs.Dalloway, the scene I chose was the scene in which Mrs.Dalloway stops in London to observe that Taxi cabs. We enter her stream of consciousness and learn how she feels about life and death. She bounces between her past and the future and never really knows how to articulate exactly how she feels about either. A quote that I found more complex to understand was in As I Lay Dying. I chose a quote from Darl where he acknowledges that he’s alive but Jewel cannot conceive the idea that he may not be alive. In this quotation, Darl still does not know what makes him alive and it is a question left undecided. In the above quote I chose from Nightwood, we see the indecisiveness that we have seen in several other characters this semester. She has an incredibly hard time deciding what she wants and how to act upon it. Many characters we have studied show a difficulty with clearly portraying how they feel and fighting for what they want.

Nightwood: Historical Line

“She prayed, and her prayer was monstrous because in it there was no margin left for damnation or forgiveness, for praise or for blame-for those who cannot conceive a bargain cannot be saved or damned. She could not offer herself up; she only told of herself in a preoccupation that was its own predicament.” (51)

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

Throughout some of the novels we have read as a class, the theme of religion is a prominent feature. Questioning, invoking, pleading, or simply   referencing God or a “higher power” plays an important role in these novels and the development of their respective characters. The early twentieth century in the United States was marked by social reform, The Great Depression, which not only rocked the world reawakened the Social Gospel as well. These were desperate times and many were either turning toward religion, or away from it. While Joyce and Barnes can be seen as the marker for a pre-and-post Great Depression novel looks like they have the unique characteristic of knowing each other. Despite the two decades separating the publication of The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce and Djuna Barnes Nightwood, Stephen Dedalus (post-renunciation of the Church) and Robin Vote have striking similarities. Stephen writes in his journal, “Amen. So be it. Welcome, O life!” (213). Stephen is not begging God for a successful journey, or even saying a prayer at all, amen is stated at the end of a prayer and literally means “so be it” indicating that his life is no longer in the hands of God but rather to be “forged in the smithy of my soul”. Robin Vote (as stated above) prays but does not “offer herself up” like a lamb to slaughter. She is simply trying to make sense of a “preoccupation that was also its own predicament” (51).

Zora Neale Hurston in Their Eyes Were Watching God and Jean Toomer’s Cane also grapple and contemplate the role of God and religion from the experience of Black America in the South. In Toomer’s “Cotton Song” the verse goes as follows, “God’s body’s got a soul, Bodies likes to roll the soul, Cant blame God if we don’t roll, Come, brother, roll. roll!” (13) This concept of a “rolling soul” is directly evoked in Hurston’s novel as well, “Like all the other tumbling mud-balls, Janie had tried to show her shine” (86). In Cane, the poems often seen as prayer-like. In “Conversation”, the “African Guardian of the Souls” yields to “a white-faced sardonic god-“, (17). Again this feeling can be seen in Hurston’s novel where she writes, “The time was past for asking the white folks what to look for through that door. Six eyes were questioning God” (151). The questioning of God, not only in who but why, and how binds these four novels together. The ability of God to shape the lives of these characters (or not) brings up questions never asked before. Depending on the character’s acceptance or rejection of a Higher Power (and perhaps the authors’ own experience and beliefs) allowed for a religious critique in the early 20th century that turned the idea of God as absolute truth into God as something to be questioned, and perhaps, that’s not such a bad thing after all.


“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.