“But how lovely, she said, taking his flowers. She understood; she understood without his speaking; his Clarissa. She put them in vases on the mantelpiece.”
Clarissa’s seeming understanding of Richard’s meaning with the gift would suggest that she knows him well enough to make assumptions of his thoughts. However, the following thought isn’t hers, but Richard’s, “his Clarissa”. That their differing understandings follow one after the other, gives the idea that they’re united, that they know each other enough to make these inferences. Yet, Mr. Dalloway’s true meaning behind the flowers is lost in his inability to stay “I love you” to Clarissa, and instead claims her as “his”. His dehumanizing her to a property to be owned, gives reason to suggest that he doesn’t actually love her, but rather the idea of having her, which would exiplain his silence. Mrs. Dalloway’s struggle for identity and agency as seen throughout the novel are a result of Mr. Dalloway’s unspoken possession of her person.
coiled like a lyncher’s rope,
Lips–old scars, or the first red blisters,
Breath–the last sweet scent of cane,
And her slim body, white as the ash
of black flesh after flame.”
When addressing a controversial, hotbed topic, many poor writer will skate around it. Not Toomer. He cuts straight to the bone, using powerful, violent imagery to portray the South, and the way it treats African-Americans. This could just as easily be called Portrait of the South
“The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretense but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea — something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to…”
In an almost poetic manner, Marlow presents the basis for which conquerors wreck havoc on those they deem weaker than them. Their actions are based on an idea they have been ingrained with to follow so as not to scrutinize and keep at bay the dark truth lurking underneath.
“He would have liked to invent something, get her to make-believe with him that some passage of a romantic or critical kind had originally occurred. He was really almost reaching out in imagination-as against time-for something that would do, and saying to himself that if it didn’t come this new incident would simply and rather awkwardly close. They would separate, and now for no second or for no third chance. They would have tried and not succeeded.
Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories and Essays (New York: Library of America, 1999), pg. 449
This passage illustrates Marcher’s longing to connect with May, even if it’s by means of pretense. There’s a desperate quality to his musings in wanting to remain in the moment.
“It was always open to him to accuse her of seeing him but as the most harmless of maniacs, and this, in the long run–since it covered so much ground–was his easiest description of their friendship. He had a screw loose for her, but she liked him in spite of it, and was practically, against the rest of the world, his kind, wise keeper, unremunerated, but fairly amused and, in the absence of other near ties, not disreputably occupied” (206).
Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories & Essays(New York: Library of America, 1999).
Labeling a self-proclaimed maniac as harmless.
“One discussed, of course, like a hunchback, for there was always a hunchback face. That remained, and she was watching him; but people watched best, as a general thing, in silence, so that such would be predominantly the manner of their vigil. Yet he didn’t want, at the same time, to be solemn; solemn was what he imagined he too much tended to be with other people. The thing to be, with the one person who knew was easy and natural, to the make the reference rather than be seeming to avoid it..”
Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle,” in Major Stories & Essays(New York: Library of America, 1999). 458
Marcher hides behind the truth of knowing. However, it is interesting that when he finally finds May who knows the truth, he is craving the discussion of it and its almost like he yearns to set it free. May’s silence of the “beast” was like the people of a village watching the face of a hunchback man without saying a word about the clear hunch on his back.