As I Lay Dying

“And at night it is better still. I used to lie on the pallet in the hall, waiting until I could hear them all asleep, so I could get up and go back to the bucket. It would be black, the shelf black, the still surface of the water a round orifice in nothingness, where before I stirred it awake with the dipper I could see maybe a star or two in the bucket, and maybe in the dipper a star or two before I drank. After that I was bigger, older. Then I would wait until they all went to sleep so I could lie with my shirt-tail up, hearing them asleep, feeling myself without touching myself, feeling the cool silence blowing upon my parts and wondering if Cash was yonder in the darkness doing it too, had been doing it perhaps for the last two years before I could have wanted to or could have” (11) 

The continued use of cedar despite clear inconvenience invokes a sense of reverence. Moreover, the water is define through absence “in nothing” — this is similar to the description later in the passage of “feeling myself without touching myself”. This is all heightened by the constant use of dark imagery, such as “sleep”, “black”, “darkness”. The passage presents a strange paradox: absence of a substance is felt most intensely. 

Heart of Darkness

“‘You are of the new gang–the gang of virtue. The same people who sent him specially also recommended you. Oh, don’t say no. I’ve my own eyes to trust.’ Light dawned upon me. My dear aunt’s influential acquaintances were producing an unexpected effect upon that young man. I nearly burst into a laugh. ‘Do you read the Company’s confidential correspondence?’ I asked. He hadn’t a word to say. It was great fun.”

Joseph Conrad, “Heart of Darkness”, in Heart of Darkness and Other Tales (New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2002), 127.

This passage made me laugh and interested me for two reasons. One, you can really see the type of person Marlow is because of his sense of humor that is called upon here. It is kind of a witty, mischievous humor at the sake of this brick-making man. It was interesting also to see the effect one person had on the opinions everyone else. The boss was praised and used as a judgment of others. Because Marlow came from the same place, he must also be as good as Mr. Kurtz. It is quite interesting.