All posts by K.

Malgudi Days

He walked off to his car, sat in the back seat and reflected.  He looked at his watch.  Midnight.  If the will was to be signed, it must be done within the next two hours, or never.  He could not be responsible for a mess there; he knew the family affairs too well and about those wolves, Subbiah and his gang,  But what could he do?  If he asked him to sign the will it would virtually mean a death sentence and destroy the thousandth part of a chance that the patient had of survival.”

Narayan, R.K. Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin, 2006.

Notes: Strange how the doctor thinks signing a will can bring about the death of a patient.  The doctor is facing a sort of conundrum here.  He knows that not signing the will can ruin the chances of the family inheriting the property, yet he is concerned with his life.  There is an importance on making sure the property remains with the family while at the same time trying to remain optimistic about the chances of survival.  It is a question of who is being pragmatic in this situation, the doctor or the patient?

Social Landscape

In four of the novels Mrs. Dalloway, Their Eyes were Watching God, As I Lay Dying, and Untouchables. The class of the characters heavily influences their social mobility or lack of social mobility.  The characters in Their Eyes were Watching God and As I lay Dying are living in regions that are separate from those in big cities.  Then there are those who are a part of the same city, but who are cut off from the upper class mentality of thinking–Lucy in Mrs. Dalloway.  The importance of characters who live in the margins compared to those who are affluent show a changing landscape post World War I.  There is a gradual fixation on the proletariat compared to the bourgeois.   This shows a growing concern with representing people who have been unrepresented in the past.

Their Eyes

“janie stood where he left her for unmeasured time and thought.  She stood there until something fell off the self inside her.  Then she went inside there to see what it was.  It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered.  But looking at it she saw that it never the flesh and blood figure of her dreams.  Just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over. In a way she turned her back upon the image where it lay and looked further.  She had no more blossomy openings dusting pollen over her man, neither any glistening young fruit where the petals used to be.  She found that she had  a host of thoughts she had never expressed to him, and numerous emotions she had never let Jody know about.  Things packed up and put away in parts of her heart where he could never find them.  She was saving up feelings for some man she had never seen.  She had an inside and now and suddenly she knew how not to mix them.”

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Novel. New York: Perennial Library, 1990

Notes: This is the moment when Janie looks inside of her and realizes the marriage with Jody has been a farce.  Jody was never the figure of her dreams, but instead just “something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over.”   Janie was in love more with the idea of Jodie (ambitious businessmen) than actually Jodie himself.   Jodie is a figure of escape for Janie, however, what ensues is a realization that the marriage has pushed her into a state of even greater repression.

Untouchable

“When he returns home, he tells his father, “They think we are mere dirt because we clean their dirt.”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. London: Penguin, 1935. Print.

Notes: Theme of class central to the novel, class affects how people interact with each other, caste system.

As I Lay Dying

“She looks at us.   Only her eyes seem to move. It’s like they touch us, not with sight or sense, but like the stream from a hose touches you, the stream at the instant of impact as dissociated from the nozzle as though it had never been there.  She does not look at Anse at all.  She looks at me, then at the boy.  Beneath the quilt she is no more than a bundle of rotten sticks.”

William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying, The Modern Library Editions, 2000

Notes: Stream of consciousness, attempting to figure out what Addie is thinking; eyes gateway to some other emotions Peabody can’t figure out; still not aware of the reason why she does not look at Anse; withholding information.

Chapter IV

It was a frightfully hot day.  We’d jammed an absolutely perfect barricade across the bridge.  It was simply priceless.  A big old wrought-iron grating from the front of a house.  Too heavy to lift and you could shoot through it and they would have to climb over it.  It was absolutely topping.  They tried to get over it, and we pottered from forty yards.  They rushed it, and officers came out along and worked on it.  It was an absolutely perfect obstacle.  Their officers were very fine.  We were frightfully put out when we heard the flank gone, and we had to fall back. 

Hemingway, Ernest. In Our Time. New York, NY: Scribner, 2003.

Notes: Repetition, simply priceless?, unusual descriptions, ambiguous use of we, declarative sentences, who is they, temporal and spatial question.

Sayers

“The criminal, “said Lord Peter, bitterly, “climbed over the roofs in the wet and not unaturally got soot on his fingers.  He arranged the body in the bath, and wiped away all traces of himself except two, which he obligingly left to show us how to do our job.  We learn from a smudge on the floor that he wore india rubber boots, and from this admirable set of finger-prints on the edge of the bath that he had the usual number of fingers and wore rubber gloves.  That’s the kind of man he is. Take the fool away. gentlemen.”

Notes: Close attention to detail (India rubber boots, unaturally got soot on his fingers), humor,  sarcasm, typical detective recreation of an incident,

 

Sayers, Dorothy. Whose Body? 1923. Reprint, New York: Dover, 2009

Melanctha and Misunderstanding

“He never really knew what it was that Melanctha really wanted.  In all these ways he just, by his nature, did, what he sort of felt Melanchtha wanted.  And so they continued to be alone and much together, and now it had come to be the spring time, and now when they had all out-doors to wander.” (Stein 83).

“Jane was beginning to make Jeff Campbell see much clearer.  Jane Harden did not know what it was that she was really doing with all this talking.  Jane was always honest when she was talking.  Jane did not know what Jeff was feeling.  Jane was always honest when she was talking, and now it just happened she had started talking about her old times with Melanctha Hebert.  Jeff understood very well that it was true what Jane was saying.  Jeff Campbell was beginning to see very clearly.” (Stein 84)

The two passages  emphasize misunderstanding and the constant desire for characters to understand each other.  The first passage Campbell is unable to know what Melanctha wants, and Jane does not know what Campbell wants.  Both passages the focalizer switches, especially in the second there is an abrupt switch from Jane’s point of view to Jeff’s point of view.  This abrupt switch does not allow readers to focus on Jane’s nature because Campbell’s reaction to the news is what takes up the rest of the space in the paragraph.

Beast in the Jungle

“What is presently came to it truth was that poor Marcher waded through his beaten grass, where no life stirred, where no breath sounded, where no evil seemed to gleam from a possible lair, very much as if vaguely looking for the Beast, and still more as if missing it.”

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle”, in Major Stories & Essays (New York: Library of America, 1999)

Notes: Introspection, undefinable, inner crisis, James