All posts by GMD

Oh the Irony…

“[Swami] asked the peon, ‘Where is the headmaster?’ ‘Why do you want him?’ ‘My father has sent a letter for him.’ ‘He has taken the afternoon off and won’t come back for a week. You can give the letter to the assistant headmaster. He will be here now.’ ‘Who is he?’ ‘Your  teacher, Samuel. He will be here in a second.’ Swaminathan fled from the place” (72).

Narayan, R. K. (1941). Malgudi days. (p. 72). New York, NY: Penguin Books.

Notes: The ending of this short story really peaked my interest because it was a surprise and ironic ending.  I was certainly not expecting for the assistant headmaster to be Samuel, and being surprised really can peak a reader’s interest. After this point, I expected to be surprised in the other readings and found myself trying to solve this puzzle of sorts before I finished reading each short story.

Footnotes: A Common Device in 20th Century Fiction

Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand (1935), Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston (1937), Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers (1923), and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (1916) all utilize the device of footnotes  to bring forth a message to the readers.

Jeri Johnson, who wrote the introduction of Portrait: ” ‘Epiphany’: a word which Joyce appropriates from the lexicon of the sacred to that of the profane” (XXXVI).

Joyce, J. (1916). A portrait of the artist as a young man. (p. XXXVI). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sayers: “Lord Peter’s wits were wool-gathering. The book is in the possession of Earl Spencer” (4).

Sayers, D. (1923). Whose body?. (p. 4). Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, INC.

Anand: “The Hindus do not allow a person to die in bed, but bring the dying to rest as near the earth as  possible; the idea being that from the earth we come, to earth we return.” (81).

Anand, M. R. (1935). Untouchable. (p. 81). London: Penguin Books.

Hurston: “A beating with the fist” (98).

Hurston, Z. N. (1937). Their eyes were watching god. (p. 98). New York: Harper Perennial.

The literary-historical trajectory that can be noted from these novels is that they each serve a purpose that fits the time and/or tone of the stories.  For example, Sayers’ novel is not meant to be taken seriously because it is a satirical detective story, so the footnote is consistent with the story and also meant to entertain the reader.  Joyce’s novel, although the footnote was not an original part of the story, still helps the reader understand a theme that will be seen throughout the novel.  Anand and Hurston’s stories are written later in the 20th century, and they both serve to make clarifications for the reader in terms of customs and the meanings of phrases.  The footnotes are for the most part continuous in that they are granting the reader clarifications.  However, Hurston’s novel in particular is the most controversial (a joke about violence?) and also is the novel that is published the latest.

Their Eyes Were Watching God…

They made burning statements with questions, and killing tools out of laughs. It was mass cruelty. A mood come alive. Words walking without masters; walking altogether like harmony in a song. “What she doin coming back here in dem overalls? Can’t she find no dress to put on? — Where’s dat blue satin dress she left here in?” (2).

Hurston, Z. N. (1937). Their eyes were watching god. (p. 2). New York: Harper Perennial.

Notes: The author provides a sharp contrast to the way the narrator describes the women and how they are talking about others (“burning statements”) and the way that the women actually speak (“dem overalls”).  They speak in a dialect that at times can be difficult to understand and interpret, so the reader travels through the novel from being able to perfectly understand the narrator to having to switch to dialogue and work a bit harder to perfectly understand what is being said.

Untouchable

A small, thin man, naked except for a loin-cloth, stood outside with a small brass jug in his left hand, a round white cotton skull-cap on his head, a pair of wooden sandals on his feet, and the apron of his loin-cloth lifted to his nose.

It was Havildar Charat Singh, the famous hockey player of the 28th Dogras regiment , as celebrated for his humour as for the fact, which with characteristic Indian openness he acknowledged, that he suffered from chronic piles (15).

Anand, M. R. (1935). Untouchable. (p. 15). New York: Penguin Books.

Notes:  When reading the first part of the passage I expected the “small, thin man” to just be a regular towns-person, so I was very surprised to learn that this man who is dressed very simply, is a “famous” hockey player. It shows that no matter the profession, there are very  few wealthy citizens in this community.

 

As Addie Lay Dying…

“The quilt is drawn up to her chin, hot as it is, with only her two hands and her face outside. She is propped on the pillow, with her head raised so she can see out the window, and we can hear him every time he takes up the adze or the saw. If we were deaf we could almost watch her face and hear him, see him. Her face is wasted away so that the bones draw just under the skin in white lines. Her eyes are like two candles when you watch them gutter down into the sockets of iron candlesticks.  But the eternal and the everlasting salvation and grace is not upon her…Under the quilt she makes no more of a hump than a rail would, and the only way you can tell she is breathing is by the sound of the mattress shucks. Even the hair at her cheek does not move, even with that girl standing right over her, fanning her with the fan” (6-7).

 

Faulkner, W. (2012). As i lay dying. (pp. 6-7). New York: The Modern Library.

 

Notes: The reader can really sense death here, especially with the description of Addie’s eyes being “like two candlesticks.”  Through the description of Addie, the reader can see that she is not far from dying and that she is “wasting away.”

A Brief POV Change in “Mrs. Dalloway”

“To his patients he gave three-quarters of an hour; and if in this exacting science which he has to do with what, after all, we know nothing about – the nervous system, the human brain – a doctor loses his sense of proportion, as a doctor he fails.  Health we must have; and health is a proportion; so that when a man comes into your room and says he is Christ (a common delusion), and has a message, as they mostly have, and threatens, as they often do, to kill himself, you invoke proportion; order rest in bed; rest in solitude; silence and rest; rest without friends, without books, without messages…” (99).

 

Woolf, V. (1925). Mrs. dalloway. (p. 99). New York: Harcourt, Inc.

Note: This is  Rezia’s perspective of Dr. Holmes and the reader goes from third-person narrative in this passage to first-person twice, with references to “we.”  Additionally, there is a mention of “your.” As a reader, I feel as if Rezia herself is talking to someone in a sarcastic tone, perhaps having an internal monologue.

Forever Young

“They were seated in the boat, Nick in the stern, his father rowing. The sun was coming up over the hills. A bass jumped, making a circle in the water. Nick trailed his hand in the water. It felt warm in the sharp chill of the morning. In the early morning on the lake sitting in the stern of the boat with his father rowing, he felt quite sure that he would never die” (19).

Ernest, H. (2003). In our time. (p. 19). New York: Simon & Schuster.

 

Notes: After seeing new life and death within minutes of each other, young Nick does not think he is going to die. This is a common trait that young children and even young adults share: they do not think that aging like their parents is possible and that it is very far off.  Additionally, Nick may not think he will ever die because he feels so alive with a new day ahead.

Whose Body? This Body

The body which lay in the bath was that of a tall, stout man of about fifty. The hair, which was thick and black and naturally curly, had been cut and parted by a master hand, and exuded a faint violet perfume, perfectly recognisable in the close air of the bathroom. The features were thick, fleshy and strongly marked, with prominent dark eyes, and a long nose curving down to a heavy chin. The clean-shaven lips were full and sensual, and the dropped jaw showed teeth stained with tobacco. (8).

Sayers, D. (2009). Whose body?. (p. 8). Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, INC.

 

Notes: Through describing the dead man in the bathtub, the reader can see that this story will be a detective story with a who-done-it story line. Through this description of the killed man, the reader  sees and understands what this man looks like because Sayers paints a very clear picture.

A Portrait of the Artist as He Paints Descriptions

“White roses and red roses: those were beautiful colours to think of. And the cards for first place and second place and third place were beautiful colours too: pink and cream and lavender. Lavender and cream and pink roses were beautiful to think of. Perhaps a wild rose might be like those colours and he remembered the song about the wild rose blossoms on the little green place. But you could not have a green rose. But perhaps somewhere in the world you could” (9).

 

Joyce, James. (2008). A portrait of the artist as a young man. Oxford, Great Britain: Oxford university press.

 

Notes: The colors of the roses that are being described from Stephen’s viewpoint greatly contrast moments dark and dreary moments in the story . It is interesting to note that Stephen is paying close attention to the colors of the roses as he becomes ill.  Stephen thinking about the potential of a green rose’s existence is his last thought about these colors as the bell rings and his thinking is disrupted.

“Careless AND Lazy,” yet Needs “Decent Comfort”

“The child, though it was healthy after it was born, did not live long. Rose Johnson was careless and negligent and selfish, and when Melanctha had to leave for a few days, the baby died.  Rose Johnson had liked the baby well enough and perhaps she just forgot it for awhile, anyway the child was dead and Rose and Sam her husband were very sorry but then these things came so often in the negro world in Bridgepoint, that they neither of them thought about it very long” (47).

“Rose Johnson was careless and was lazy, but she had been brought up by white folks and she needed decent comfort. Her white training had only made for habits, not for nature. Rose had the simple, promiscuous unmorality of the black people” (47-48).

Stein, G. (2011). Melanctha. (2 ed., pp. 47-48). Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, INC.

Notes: From early on in the novel, the reader can see that Rose is the epitome of an abhorrent mother.  The narrator describes her as “careless and negligent and selfish,” which gives the reader a negative view of her character, yet still mentions how, “perhaps she just forgot about it for awhile,” (47).  The former description is much more harsh than the latter, which seems as if the narrator is perhaps defending Rose: using the word “perhaps” almost softens the fact that she was cruel enough to let her own infant die, and the fact that she and her husband  did not “[think] about…[[the baby’s death] very long” shows that they have absolutely no remorse for this tragedy.  This shows Rose’s character very early on in the novella: again the narrator mentions she is “careless and…lazy,” but again defends that she still “need[s] decent comfort.”  It will be interesting to discover why the narrator feels the need to insult this woman and very quickly soften the blow. Additionally, Stein seems to use a similar pattern when describing Rose by repeatedly using the word “and” in numerous sentences. Rose is “careless and negligent;” she is “careless and lazy.”  The author writes in this manner, which seems simple and repetitive.  Perhaps it is because this is the way Rose speaks, so there is continuity throughout the story.  In any case, these two passages prove that there is a constant flow throughout the story with similar sentence structures.