Yo’ Nanny wouldn’t harm a hair uh yo’ head. She don’t want nobody else to do it neither if she kin help it. Honey, de white man is de ruler of everything as fur as Ah been able tuh find out. Maybe it’s some place way off in de ocean where de black man is in power, but we don’t know nothin’ but what we see. So de white man throw down de load and tell de nigger man tuh pick it up. He pick it up because he have to, but he don’t tote it. He hand it to his womenfolks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see. Ah been prayin’ fuh it tuh be different wid you.
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013. p. 13
Complex ideas in simplified language. Nanny expresses a deep understanding of the social hierarchy and hers and Janie’s position on it. Nanny and Janie are below black men who are below white people. Emphasis on “seeing”: Nanny has witnessed only whites in power and black women as the mules of the world and expresses that she only knows what she sees. She’s aware that her experience is specific to the social system she and Janie are currently in and does not deny the possibility of a social system in which blacks or black women specifically have some power, further expressed in “Ah been prayin’ fuh it tuh be different wid you.”
“…she did undoubtedly then feel what men felt. Only for a moment; but it was enough. It was a sudden revelation, a tinge like a blush which one tried to check and then, as it spread, one yielded to its expansion, and rushed to the the farthest verge and there quivered and felt the world come closer, swollen with some astonishing significance, some pressure of rapture, which split its thin skin and gushed and poured with an extraordinary alleviation over the cracks and sores” (32).
Relationship with Sally a protest against the mundanity of Clarissa’s housewife subordination. Description sounds like conscious attempt to repress her homosexual thoughts; then, possible acceptance.
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print.
“She came forward, all in black, with a pale head, floating towards me in the dusk. She was in mourning… She had a mature capacity for fidelity, for belief, for suffering. The room seemed to have grown darker, as if all the sad light of the cloudy evening had taken refudge on her forehead. This fair hair, this pale visage, this pure brow, seemed surrounded by an ashy halo from which the dark eyes looked out at me. Their glance was guileless, profound, confident, and trustful.” (pg. 152-153)
Conrad’s description of Kurtz’s fiancée is interesting. I think that including the sentence, “she was in mourning” was not necessary only because the rest of the passage clearly dictates that she is, indeed in mourning. Her “mature capacity for fidelity, belief, suffering” all seem to fall under the impression of a passive woman. The first and only real description that the reader gets of this woman is that she has the capacity to mourn. Not that I believe Conrad, or Marlow necessarily, thinks of women in that way, but the narrative description leaves that impression on me. The words describing her also remind me of a ghost. She “floated” towards Marlow, with her “fair hair”, “pale visage”, “ashy halo”. She seems to have died with him?