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

“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.

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.


“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 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.

“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.


“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.

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 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.

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.