All posts by LM

Out of Business

“His heart quailed as he opened the page announcing the prize-winners. Someone in Baluchistan, someone in Dacca, and someone in Ceyol had hit upon the right set of words; not Rama Rao. It took three hours for Rama Rao to recover from this shock. The only way to exist seemed to be to plunge into the next week’s puzzle; that would keep him buoyed up with hope for a few days more.”

Notes: I found this quote amusing yet slightly saddening at the same time. Rama places so much of his time and effort into the crossword puzzle in hopes of winning some money for his family. His reaction to finding out he is not a winner is almost comical.

 

Class and Social Status

Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad (1899): Conrad’s novella focuses more on the separation between civilized and uncivilized, the matter of colonization looming in the background.

Whose Body?, Dorothy Sayers (1923): Sayers novel focuses on the upper class through its protagonist, Lord Peter Wimsey.

Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Wolf (1925): Similar to Sayers, Wolf’s novel focuses on the upper class as told from the point of view of Clarissa Dalloway. Clarissa realizes the importance and thus only wants to associate herself with people of the same class. For example when she expresses her dislike toward Mrs. Kilman and Ellie Henderson.

Untouchable, Mulk Raj Anand (1935): Anand steps away from English social stratus and introduces readers to the caste system of India. Unlike the English class system, where one can change class through education and work, the Indian caste system is much more rigid in the fact that one is predestined to a certain caste.

Literary-Historical Trajectory: For the most part, the literary-historical line for these 4 novels remains the same except for the novels at the beginning and towards the end. Conrad’s novella doesn’t really focus on social class but more of the question of what it means to be civilized. While Anand brings a new perspective to social class by breaking away from the English class system to demonstrate the caste system of India.

Their eyes were watching god

“Seeing the women as she was made them remember the envy they had stored up from other times. So they chewed up the back parts of their minds and swallowed with relish. 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.”

Notes: What I especially liked about this passage was the way Hurston uses words and actions as sorts of weapons to cause mental harm. The women are expressing their envy by being indirect with things such as laughter and questions.

Untouchable

“But Bakha was a child of modern India. The clean-cut styles of European dress had impressed his naive mind. This stark simplicity had furrowed his old Indian consciousness and cut deep new lines where all the considerations which made India evolve a skirty costume as best fitted for the human body, lay dormant.” (10)

Notes: I like how this passage clearly distinguishes Bakha as someone from modern India as opposed to an older more traditional India, like his father. It shows how colonialism has made a deep impression on Bakha’s mind beginning through things such as clothing.

 

Mrs. Dalloway

“She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day.” (3)

Notes: I liked how this passage shows how Clarissa is very wrapped up in her mind. Despite being outside in the bustling city of London, she feels very much alone. It’s interesting to note how she compares this loneliness to being alone at sea. This emphasizes a sort of division between the outside world and the privacy of one’s mind.

In Our Time

Krebs acquired the nausea in regard to experience that is the result of untruth or exaggeration, and when he occasionally met another man who had really been a soldier and they talked a few minutes in the dressing room at a dance he fell into the easy pose of the old soldier among other soldiers: that he had been badly, sickeningly frightened all the time. In this way he lost everything. (70)

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

Notes: This passage shows the trouble Krebs has adjusting to life as a civilian. He doesn’t feel comfortable talking to other people about his experiences so he often lies and uses stories he has heard from others. The only time he seems to be at ease is when he is with other soldiers, showing that he is still in a war like mentality. Being with other soldiers give him a sense of acceptance and solidarity.

Whose Body?

“Lord Peter’s library was one of the most delightful bachelor rooms in London. Its scheme was black and primrose; its walls were lined with rare editions, and its chairs and Chesterfield sofa suggested the embraces of the houris. In one corner stood a black baby grand, a wood fire leaped on a wide old-fashioned hearth, and the Sevres vases on the chimneypiece were filled with ruddy and gold chrysanthemums. (11)

Notes: This passage caught my attention particularly because of the details. Through the description that Sayers provides, it’s evident that Lord Peter is of the upper class and has very good taste. He seems to be an admirer of old fashioned things judging from the rare editions of books in his bookcases.

Childhood

He still tried to think what was the right answer. Was it right to kiss his mother or wrong to kiss his mother? 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 to his cheek; her lips were 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? (11)

His fingers trembled as he undressed himself in the dormitory. He told his fingers to hurry up. He had to undress and then kneel and say his own prayers and be in bed before the gas was lowered so that he might not go to hell when he died. He rolled his stockings off and put on his nightshirt quickly and knelt trembling at his bedside and repeated his prayers quickly quickly, fearing that the gas would go down. (15)

Within both passages Joyce explores the childish innocence that Stephen views the world. In the first passage, Stephen questions whether it is right or not to kiss his mother. He demonstrates this curiosity in kissing itself by analyzing the entire act. In the second passage, Stephen shows his innocence in his fear of not being in bed before the gas was lowered. Joyce emphasis the boy’s sense of urgency through the repetition of words such as “quickly”.

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.

Opposites attract

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.

Melanctha Herbert always loved too hard and much too often. She was always full of mystery and subtle movements and denials and vague distrusts and complicated disillusions. Then Melanctha would be sudden and impulsive and unbound in some faith, and then she would suffer and be strong in her repression.

In the two above passages, Stein gives a brief description of Melanctha and her friend Rose. Stein’s description of each woman gives us a bit of insight to their personalities. Rose is more frivolous and is a very simple almost 1 dimensional character. Her simplicity may be sttributed to the fact that “she had been brought up buy white folks and she needed comfort”. However Melanctha’s personality seems to be much more complex. She seems to be a total opposite to Rose. Melanctha is more reserved and mysterious while Rose is carefree and careless.