All posts by Shalini Gupta

The Doctor’s Words

“I will bet on it.  He will live to be ninety.  He has turned the corner.  How he has survived this attack will be puzzle to me all my life,” replied the doctor (25)

Narayan, R.K.  (1984)   Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin Group.

Notes: It is strange how the doctor is unaware of how Gopal survived the heart attack since Narayan makes it very clear that it is the doctor’s words which help Gopal survive.  The doctor is aware that Gopal is going to die.  However, when Gopal constantly pleads with the doctor to let him know the truth, the doctor lies to Gopal by assuring him that he will become hale and hearty.  He lies to Gopal since he doesn’t want to Gopal to lose “that thousandth part of a chance [he had] of survival” (Narayan, 25).  The interesting fact is when the doctor visits Gopal the next day, “[Gopal] had turned the corner” since he was awake and well (Narayan, 25).  Gopal’s sudden improvement in health proves the fact that it is the doctor’s lie which gave him the hope for survival.  If the doctor had lied to in order to give Gopal the hope for survival, how can it not have come across his mind that his words had a placebo effect on Gopal?  Is the doctor trying to be modest or is he really clueless as to how Gopal survived?

Inequalities in Social Class

In our Twentieth Fiction course, we have read many interesting novels so far.  My blog will discuss a similar theme between the four novels, Mrs. Dalloway, As I Lay Dying, Untouchable, and Their Eyes Were Watching God – inequalities between social classes.  In the 1925 novel, Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf depicts the importance of social class post World War 1, through the eyes of the main protagonist, Clarissa Dalloway.  Clarissa is from a high social class and appreciates her high status whereas Mrs. Kilman and Ellie Henderson are inferior to Clarissa due to their low social class.  Due to her high social class, Clarissa only interacts with the people whom have the same social class as her.  However, Faulkner’s 1930 novel, As I Lay Dying, doesn’t portray any kind of inequality in social class.  Instead, Faulkner shows the poverty and difficulties of a poor family in the Mississippi.  As we read the novels of Anand and Hurston during the late 1930’s, we notice a gradual evolution in the inequalities between the social classes since the inequalities lead to domination or racism.  In Anand’s1930 novel, Untouchable, Anand depicts the inequality between social class in terms of domination between the Pundit and Sohini; the Pundit is a Brahmin and most importantly, a man, whereas Sohini is an untouchable and even more important, a woman.  Therefore, the Pundit uses two intertwined methods of domination, gender and social class, to control Sohini.  Similarly, in the 1937 novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston depicts the inequality in social class in terms of racism through the marriage of Logan Killock and Janie.  Logan Killock is a white, comes from a high social class, and is wealthy as he has sixty acres of land whereas Janie is an African American and she comes from a low social class.  In order to achieve a high social status and wealth, Janie marries Logan, only to not receive any love from him.

Based on the literary – historical trajectory in all the four novels, I notice how all of these novels were written post World War 1.  In these novels, there is an inequality between the upper class and low class, however, the inequality between the social classes starts to elevate during the 1930’s.  In the 1930’s, not only is there an inequality in social class, but new inequalities arise in terms of race and gender.  These new inequalities cause the upper class to discriminate and dominate the lower class based on their inferiority in race, social class, and gender.

Janie Looking at Herself in the Mirror

“Years ago, she had told her girl self to wait for her in the looking glass.  It had been a long time since she had remembered.  Perhaps she’d better look.  She went over to the dresser and looked hard at her skin and features.  The young girl was gone, but a handsome woman had taken her place.  She tore off the kerchief from her head and let down her plentiful hair. The weight, the length, the glory was there.  She took careful stock of herself, then combed her hair and tied it back up again. Then she starched and ironer her ace, forming it into just what people wanted to see, and opened up the window and cried, “Come heah people! Jody is dead.  Mah husband is gone form me” (87)

Hurston, Zora N. (1937) Their Eyes Were Watching Go.  Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co.

Notes: passage marks a turning point in Janie’s life with the death of Jody for she is free to do whatever she wants; the mirror scene is a moment of self- realization for Janie as she realizes her freedom and beauty; Janie’s act of letting down her hair symbolizes her liberation from Jody’s suppression. No longer does Janie have to imprison her hair in head-rags and she can do whatever she wants; the line “young girl was gone, but a handsome woman had taken her place” depicts how despite the fact that Janie has aged, she still possesses her beauty as the “weight, length, and glory was there”; Janie’s pretense of faking remorse for Jody’s death reminds me of Roxana where Roxana also fakes her for the Landlord’s death, however, both Roxana and Janie have different reasons for their remorse: Janie fakes tears for Jody’s death since she realizes that her remorse is what the world wants to see whereas Roxana fakes tears in order to gain the sympathy of the people.

Pundit’s Sexual Lust for Sohini

“The Pundit recognized her as the sweeper’s daughter. He had seen her before, noticed her as she came to clean the latrines in the gullies in the town – the fresh young form whose full breasts with their dark beads of nipples stood out so conspicuously under muslin shirt, whose innocent look of wonder seemed to be stir the only soft chord in his person, hardened by the congenital weakness of his body, disillusioned by the congenital weakness of his mind, brazened buy the authority he exercised over the faithful and the devout.  And he was inclined to be kind to her” (29)

Anand, Mulk R. (1935). Untouchable.  New York: Penguin Books.

Notes: Pundit’s sexual lust for Sohini, Bhaka’s sister and a sweeper’s daughter; pundit lusts at Sohini’s youth, beauty, innocence, and female features (“fresh young form whose full breasts with their dark beads of nipples stood out under muslin shirt; innocent look of wonder stirred soft chord in his person”); Pundit’s weakening of mind and sexual lust for the daughter foreshadows rape; shows difference between economic status- Pundit (Brahmin) and Sohini (untouchable); During the 1930’s, due to their belonging in the upper caste, the upper caste men had the freedom to do whatever they wanted, hence, they took advantage of low caste women.  Since the Pundit was a Brahmin, it was alright for him to lust for Sohini.  As I read this passage, I was disgusted at the way how the Pundit was looking at Sohini and I felt pity for Sohini for she was unaware of the catastrophe which was going to strike her.

Darl

“Jewel, I say, she is dead, Jewel.  Addie Bundren is dead” (52)

Faulkner, William (1930). As I Lay Dying. NY: Random House, Inc.

Notes: repetition of the word “death”; Darl’s dialogue is very powerful; despite being far away from their mother, Darl can sense that his mother has passed away which shows a strong connection between him and his mother (even though Darl isn’t physically present at the time of his mother’s death, he can emotionally connect with his mother since he can sense her death); Darl’s strong feeling of his mother passing away symbolizes how both Darl and Jewel are the most affected by her death

Different Views of Women Regarding the Arrival of Prime Minister

“Lucy came running full tilt downstairs, having just nipped in to the drawing-room to smooth a cover, to straighten a chair, to pause a moment and feel whoever came in must think how clean, how bright, how beautiful cared for, when they saw the beautiful silver, the brass fire-irons, the new chair-covers, and the curtains of yellow chintz: she appraised each heard a roar of voices; people already coming up from dinner; she must fly!

The Prime Minister was coming, Agnes said: so she had heard them say in the dining-room, she said, coming in with a tray of glasses.  Did it matter, did it matter in the least, one Prime Minister more or less? It made no difference at this hour of the night to Mrs. Walker amongst the plates, saucepans, cullenders, frying-pans, chicken in aspic, ice-cream freezers, pared crusts of bread, lemons, soup tureens, and pudding basins which, however hard they washed up in the scullery seems to be all on top of her, on the kitchen table, on chairs, while the fire blared and roared, the electric lights glared, and still supper had to be laid. All she felt was, one Prime Minister more or less made not a scrap of difference to Mrs. Walker”. (165)

Woolf, Virginia (1925). Mrs. Dalloway. NY: Harcourt, Inc.

Notes: both passages shows a contrast in both of the women’s views towards the arrival of the Prime Minister; 1st passage depicts how Lucy associates the cleanliness of her house to the impression of the Prime Minister; Lucy imagines the showers of praises she will receive for the beautiful objects in her house; cleanliness of Lucy’s house is depicted through the vivid imagery of all the furniture in her house and the use of descriptive adjectives to describe the furniture in Lucy’s house: “beautiful silver, new chair-covers, brass fire-irons, curtains of yellow chintz”; 2nd passage depicts how Mrs. Walker is more concerned about finishing her household chores on time rather than worrying about the Prime Minister’s arrival; the Prime Minister’s arrival makes no difference to her and this can see through the repetition of the phrase “one Prime Minister more or less” (165) ; list of household chores which Mrs. Walker has still left to do from the plates to having supper ready

Krebs’ Conversation with Mother

“Have you decided what you are going to do yet, Harold?’ his mother said, taking off her glasses.

‘No,’ said Krebs.

‘Don’t you think it’s about time?’ She seemed worried.

‘He thinks you have lost your ambition, that you haven’t got a definite aim in life. Charley Simmons, who is just your age, has a good job and is going to be married.  The boys are all settling down; they’re all determined to get somewhere; you can that boys like Charley Simmons are on their way to be really a credit to the community.’

Krebs said nothing.

‘Don’t look that way, Harold’, his mother said.  ‘You know we love you and I want to tell you for own good how matters stand.  Your father does not want to hamper your freedom.  He thinks you should be allowed to drive the car.  We want you to enjoy yourself.  All work is honorable as he says.  But you’ve got to make a start at something. He asked me to speak to you this morning and then you can see him at his office.’

‘Is that all?” Krebs said. (75)

Hemingway, Ernest. (2003) In Our Time. New York; Scribner.

Notes: conversation resembles real life situation where children aren’t sure of what they will do in the future and parents lecture them that they should start getting serious in life; son gets irritated when mother compares him to other boys and tells him to work in his father’s office, “Is that all?”; a crack in mother-son relationship; mother’s tone starts out on a stern note, “Don’t look that way, Harold” and becomes soft, “We want you to enjoy yourself”; the language is very simple and short

 

Whose Body?

“Apparently though the window, when he has already been twenty-four hours dead, and lies down quietly in Mr. Thipps’s bath, unseasonably dressed in a pair of prince-nez.  Not a hair on his head is ruffled-the hair has been cut so recently that there are quite a number of little short hairs stuck on his neck and the sides of the bath-and he has shaved so recently that there is a line of dried soap on his cheek –” (20)

Notes: very odd, mysterious, yet planned murder of Mr. Thipps à deceased died wearing prince-nez; the fact that the deceased had been dead for twenty- four hours and not even a single hair of the deceased was ruffled seems odd and mysterious (how could person’s hair not be ruffled?);  dried soap on the deceased’s cheek could symbolize that the deceased was killed when taking a shower); description of the deceased’s body after being murder sounds like a typical murder mystery in detective cases

“Apparently though the window, when he has already been twenty-four hours dead, and lies down quietly in Mr. Thipps’s bath, unseasonably dressed in a pair of prince-nez.  Not a hair on his head is ruffled-the hair has been cut so recently that there are quite a number of little short hairs stuck on his neck and the sides of the bath-and he has shaved so recently that there is a line of dried soap on his cheek –” (20)

Notes: very odd, mysterious, yet planned murder of Mr. Thipps à deceased died wearing prince-nez; the fact that the deceased had been dead for twenty- four hours and not even a single hair of the deceased was ruffled seems odd and mysterious (how could person’s hair not be ruffled?);  dried soap on the deceased’s cheek could symbolize that the deceased was killed when taking a shower); description of the deceased’s body after being murder sounds like a typical murder mystery in detective cases

Sayers, Dorothy. (2009). Whose Body? Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

Stephen’s Sexual Cravings

“She too wants me to catch hold of her. He thought.  That’s why she came with me to the tram.  I could easily catch hold of her when she comes up to my step; nobody is looking.  I could hold her and kiss her” (58)

“His lips would not bend to kiss her.  He wanted to be held firmly in her arms, to be caressed slowly, slowly, slowly.  In her arms he felt that he had suddenly become strong and fearless and sure of himself.  But his lips would not bend to kiss her” (85)

Both of these passages are geared towards Stephen’s sexual desires, but towards different women; the first passage depicts Stephen’s sexual desire for E.C., a girl at the party whereas the second passage refers to Stephen’s sexual desire of getting intimate with a prostitute.  Joyce uses different tenses to portray Stephen’s sexual desires: Joyce uses first tense in the first passage with the word “I” whereas Joyce uses third tense in the second passage with words such as “he and she”.  Most importantly, both passages represents Stephen’s sexual cravings at different stage of his life; the first passage represents Stephen’s imagination as a young boy where he thinks of being intimate with E.C. and wanting to kiss her.  When boys are young and undergo puberty, they hold such sexual desires which Joyce shows through Stephen’s imagination.  However, in the second passage, Joyce depicts Stephen’s actual desire of getting intimate with the girl, representing his lust for the physical need of women.

Joyce, James. (2000). A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.  New York: Oxford University Press Inc.

Melanctha’s Troublesome Nature

“Melanctha Herbert had not loved her father and her mother and they had found it very troublesome to have her.” (Stein, 50)

“I just say to you now, like I always been saying to you, you don’t know never the right way, any kind of decent girl has to be acting, and so Melanctha Herbert, me and Sam, we don’t never any more you to be setting your foot in my house here Melanctha Herbert, I just tell you.  And so you just go along now, Melanctha Herbert, you hear me,” (Stein, 139)

Both of these passages have a strong connection and the strong connection is Melanctha’s own “troublesome” nature.  In the beginning of the novel, Melanctha talks about her bitter experiences as a child due to the lack of love from her parents and most importantly, her father’s constant rebukes about her running away with John, the Bishops’ coachmen.  Her father’s bitter remark about her eloping with John made Melanctha become a “troublesome” girl which becomes an important factor as the novel progresses.  Throughout the novel, Melanctha experiences blooming relationships with men such as John Campbell and Jems Richards and friends like Rose Johnson, however, Melanctha’s “troublesome” nature ends up disrupting her blooming relationships, especially her relationship with Rose Johnson.  Rose Johnson, becoming fed up of hearing neighbors’ taunts about Melanctha’s ill nature and Melanctha’s flirtatious attitude, her thoughts of committing suicide, and not behaving like a decent girl, abandons Melanctha.  Similarly, John Campbell and Jems Richards leave Melanctha since they felt that she didn’t love them anymore and she was just playing with their emotions.  In the beginning, it is ironic how her father accused her of eloping with John which makes Melanctha develop a “troublesome” nature in the future.  Once Melanctha develops into an adult, her flirting habits and whining nature becomes such a huge nuisance for Rose Johnson and her suitors that Melanctha finds herself abandoned by her loved ones.