Their Eyes Were Watching God

“He had always wanted to be a big voice, but de white folks had all de sayso where he come from and everywhere else, exceptin’ dis place dat colored folk was buildin’ theirselves.”

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (New York: Harper Perennial, 2006), 28.

Hurston gives Janie a “big voice” of sorts by letting her tenor of speech take over the narrative and describe her meeting Joe Starks. (Edit: I’m actually not sure if this specific sentence is Janie or Joe Starks; The beginning of the paragraph “sounds” like Janie, but at least to me, both of their voices seem present.) This is similar to Toomer, I think, because standard English isn’t the only language that runs the text.

Mrs. Dalloway

“Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2005), 5.

The first sentence of the book uses language that leaves the reader asking many questions: Why is she buying the flowers? Why does she have to buy them herself? Is this the way the character thinks? This first sentence relays that she is independent and can handle things on her own. We learn that she needs these flowers for a reason and that she will do it on her own.

A Portrait of the Artist

“He shook the sound out of his ears by an angry toss of his head and hurried on, stumbling through the mouldering offal, his heart already bitten by an ache of loathing and bitterness. His father’s whistle, his mother’s mutterings, the screech of an unseen maniac were to him now so many voices offending and threatening to humble the pride of his youth. He drove their echoes even out of his heart with an execration: but, as he walked down the avenue and felt the grey morning light falling about him through the dripping trees and smelt the strange wild smell of the wet leaves and bark, his soul was loosed of her miseries.”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 147.

Joyce turns voices or words into almost tangible things. Stephen has to physically “shake” the voices out to clear his head and to make room for his own voice, which seems to be marked by the almost poetic/writerly “grey morning light falling” and “strange wild smell.”