Their Eyes Were Watching God

“When God had made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and glittered all over. Some angels got jealous and chopped him into millions of pieces, but still he glittered and hummed. So they beat him down to nothing but sparks but each little spark had a shine and a song. So they covered each one over with mud. And the lonesomeness in the sparks make them hunt for one another.”

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013.

Surprising that angels who are suppose to be innocent would be jealous of man. Also thinking that perhaps the mud has something to do with different races.


“And all the while the Gardens were purple like a bed of roses would be at dusk. I came back to tell you, brother, that white faces are petals of roses. That dark faces are petals of dusk. That I am going out and gather petals. That I am going out and know her whom I brought here with me to these Gardens which are purple like a bed of roses would be at dusk.”

Toomer, Jean. “Bona and Paul.” Cane. New York: Liveright, 2011. 107. Print.

In this excerpt, the Gardens stand out to me as a religious aspect. I also really like the repetition and emphasis on “the Gardens were purple like a bed of roses would be at dusk.”

Portrait- analysis

“A restless feeling of guilt would always be present with him: he would confess and repent and be absolved, confess and repent again and be absolved again, fruitlessly. Perhaps that first hasty confession wrung from him by the fear of hell had not been good? Perhaps, concerned only for his imminent doom, he had not had sincere sorrow for his sin? But the surest sign that his confession had been good and that he had had sincere sorrow for his sin was, he knew, the amendment of his life.

– I have amended my life, have I not? he asked himself,” (129).

Stephen turns to religion in part to make sense of the world and silence his curiosities about life. In attempt to absolve his sins, when he should feel most cleansed and absolute, he finds himself ever-guilty, still curious, and encompassed in doubt. The absolution of sin, in theory, allows man to live on without these feelings hovering over them, but Stephen, doubtful at heart, cannot escape them. By the end of this passage, he comes to the conclusion (if only for a moment) that he has absolved his soon through the “amendment of his life,” (129). Immediately following this glimmer of affirmation is the self-inflicted doubt we’ve seen in him from the start: “have I not?”

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“His throat ached with a desire to cry aloud, the cry of a hawk or eagle on high, to cry piercingly of his deliverance to the winds. This was the call of life to his soul not the dull gross voice of the world of duties and despair, not the inhuman voice that had called him to the pale service of the altar. An instant of wild flight had delivered him and the cry of triumph which his lips withheld cleft his brain.”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. pg. 143

Commonplace A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man 10/3

“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.”

This quote caught my attention because it is explaining Stephen’s new outlook on everything. He has decided to completely devote himself to cleansing his soul and this quote serves to solidify his viewpoint of the world as a vessel for him to achieve his religious goal.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 126.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Chapter 4

“Not to fall was too hard, too hard; and he felt the silent lapse of his soul, as it would be at some instant to come, falling, falling, but not yet fallen, still unfallen, but about to fall. He crossed the bridge over the stream of the Tolka and turned his eyes coldly for an instant towards the faded blue shrine of the Blessed Virgin which stood fowl-wise on a pole in the middle of a ham-shaped encampment of poor cottages.”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008)

Stephen turns his eye coldly at the sight of the Virgin Mary shrine. This moment signifies a vast change in his previous religious beliefs.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man part 2

“The water of the rivulet was dark and mirrored the highdrifting clouds. The clouds were drifting above him silently and silently the seatangle was drifting below him; and the grey warm air was still: and a new wild life was singing in his veins.”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pg. 144

This is an interesting juxtaposition of the clouds above and the movement of water below Stephen parallels the image of the heaven above and the underworld.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“He still tried to think what was the right answer. Was it right to kiss his mother or wrong to kiss his mother? What did that mean, to kiss? You put your face up like that to say goodnight and then his mother put her face down. That was to kiss. His mother put her lips on his cheek; her lips were soft and they wetted his cheek; and they made a tiny little noise: kiss. Why did people do that with their two faces?”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pg. 11.

Demonstrating affection towards a mother or any other person through a kiss is an act commonly done without much thought put into it. Stephen’s questioning of what it is, it’s meaning, whether it’s wrong or right, and why people do it caught my attention. The dissection of the gesture, the phrasing of the questions, viewing it objectively rather than subjectively, they have an adult-like quality to them, being given to us through a child.


The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“But, O, the road there between the trees was dark! You would be lost in the dark. It made him afraid to think of how it was.”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pg. 14

One of the earliest examples of the delay of referent due to the fact that ‘it’ is never clarified.

Heart of Darkness

“I asked myself sometimes what it all meant. They wandered here and there with their absurd long staves in their hands, like a lot of faithless pilgrims bewitched inside a rotten fence. The word ‘ivory’ rang in the air, was whispered, was sighed. You would think they were praying to it. A taint of imbecile rapacity blew through it all, like a whiff from some corpse. By Jove! I’ve never seen anything so unreal in my life. And outside, the silent wilderness surrounding this cleared speck on the earth struck me as something great and invincible, like evil or truth, waiting patiently for the passing away of this fantastic invasion.” (27)

Conrad, Joseph. “Heart of Darkness.” New York: Penguin Group, 2007. Print.

“Faithless pilgrims” bearing cross-like “staves” and the imperialist/industrialist lust for ivory in this passage juxtaposes religious belief with capitalist fervor. Meanwhile, the “silent wilderness” observes all of this from an objective and timeless point of view, putting such a terrible juxtaposition into a broader context.

Heart of Darkness

“Perhaps on some quiet night the tremor of far-off drums, sinking, swelling, a tremor vast, faint; a sound weird, appealing, suggestive, and wild- and perhaps with as profound a meaning as the sound of bells in a Christian country.”

Joseph Conrad, “Heart of Darkness”, in Heart of Darkness and Other Tales (New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2002), 121.

I love how Conrad depicts the sound of drums in the night, as ubiquitous as the chirp of crickets back home. The comparison to the sound of bells in a Christian country provides a human connection. While bells may be the cultural norm in Europe to announce the time, celebrate a wedding, or mourn a death, drums could be used for similar occasions by the Africans. It turns an habitual sound into a kinship which is a beautiful and wonderful thing.