Category Archives: Commonplace entry

Comedy

“This was a quieter outing. He strode on at an even pace, breathing deeply, with the clay helmet on, out of which peeped his gray hair, his arms locked behind, his fingers clutching the fateful letter, his face tilted towards the sky” (Narayan 32).

Notes- I think the character being so overpowered by fear is meant to be sort of funny to the reader.

Narayan, R.K. “Gateman’s Gift.” Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin Books, 2006. 26-33. Print.

In Light of Finals Week

“He was soon out of Ellaman Street. His feet ploughed through the sands of the riverbank. He came to the river steps, removed his coat briskly and went down the steps. ‘Oh God,’ he muttered with folded hands, looking up at his stars. ‘If I can’t pass an examination even with a tenth attempt, what is the use of my living and disgracing the world?'” (57).

Narayan, R.K.Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin, 2006.
Notes: This passage right here reminded me of how finals week has just about descended on us. And how we all at one point or another, regardless of whether we’re religious or not, turn our heads up and ask some higher power for all the help we can get. But Iswaran isn’t exactly asking for help, but rather to be smited out of disgrace.  And the ending turns out a bit ironic, because his prayers are somewhat answered. Yes he passes,  which was the basic idea of why he was calling out to God in the first place, and then he literally passes away. But because he didn’t straight out say, “Oh God please help me”, it seems as though whoever answered his prayer took what he said literally. The entire story was interesting because of the miscommunication for help, and of the exact wording Iswaran chose.

Attila

“He hung his heavy tail down so loosely and looked so miserable that the burglar stroked his head, at which he revived. The burglar opened the gate and went out, and the dog followed him. Attila’s greatest ambition in life was to wander in the streets freely. Now things seemed to be shaping up ideally.

Attila liked his new friend so much that he wouldn’t leave him alone for a moment. He lay before Ranga when he sat down to eat, sat on the edge of the of his mat when he slept in his hut, waited patiently on the edge of the pond when Ranga went there now and then for a wash, slept on the roadside when Ranga was at work” (Narayan 100).

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

Notes: This passage is intriguing since the focal point is a dog. The dog Attila was constantly personified such as when he was described as having an ambition “to wander in the streets freely.” The author also utilizes free indirect discourse to place readers inside the dog’s head when the passage reads, “Now things seemed to be shaping up ideally.” One of the ironies within the short story was the dog’s purpose was  supposed to protect the house from intruders, and he not only allows the burglar in but gets attached to him.

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?

Bleeding Hearts

Venkat Rao’s heart bled when he saw his child sleeping in her pink frock, hair combed, and face powdered, dressed and ready to be taken out .

R.K. Narayan, Malgudi Days (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1947), 147. SAKAI.

Notes: It is strange that the author says that his “heart bled” because hearts naturally bleed. Does this intentional word choice emphasize the pathos of the moment? But the sincerity of the moment is subverted by the character’s indecisiveness.

The Divide of Money

Within the novels we read Untouchable (1935), Mrs. Dalloway (1925), Their Eyes were watching God (1937), and As I Lay Dying (1930) social class and structure are brought up to show the divide between the people of monetary ability. Within the novels Mrs. Dalloway and As I Lay Dying, the first two novels published, the monetary divide is more prominent and is creates a hierarchy within the socials classes of a single culture. The other two novels, Their Eyes and Untouchable, represent a monetary divide that existed in a culture in which the ones out down are pushed into that position due to their birth, this position of birth is then reflected by a low monetary worth. I feel this represents a gradual evolution that reflects the growing out of society. The gradual growth starts with looking at the richer class, than moving to a  similar cultures lower class, the divide is moved to a more distinct divide between levels of a culture outside of England, and ending with a monetary divide between two different cultures.

Use of repetitions : a stylistic pattern from the modernist era

In Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway, “he could not feel” (86), “he could not feel” (87), “he could not feel” (87), “but he could not taste, he could not feel” (88), “he could not feel” (88), “he felt nothing” (90).

In Gertrude Stein, Melanctha, “Rose Johnson was a real black (…) negress. She laughed when she was happy” (47), “Rose Johnson was a real black negress” (47), “Rose laughed when she was happy” (47).

In William Faulkner, As I lay dying, “It wont balance. If you want it to tote and ride on a balance, we will have” (96), “it wont tote and it wont ride on a balance unless” (96), “it wont balance. If they want it to tote and ride on a balance, they will have” (96).

In Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time, “the burned-over country” (133), “burned off the ground” (133), “at the burned-over stretch of hillside” (133), “watched the trout” (133), “he watched them” (133), “Nick watched them” (133), “He watched them” (133), “as he watched” (133).

In these four works Three Lives, (1909), In Our Time (1924), Mrs Dalloway (1925), As I lay dying (1930), the authors use a common pattern of repetition. The examples chosen above are representative of this stylistic use so typical of modernist writers. It seems to reflect obsessions that characters embody, whether it be the absence of feeling for Septimus Warren Smith in Mrs Dalloway, the negro race identity in Melanctha, the coffin and its technical features for Cash in As I lay dying or the sense of sight for Nick and the destroyed land after the war in In Our Time. We can notice that Gertrude Stein was using this repetitive device in 1909, that is to say before WWI and that Faulkner, in a very modernist perspective, kept using it in 1930, in the interwar period. This stylistic pattern allows the reader to enter the character’s mind and to share his/her obsessions and fears.

Dialect of Modern Writing

Heart of Darkness (1899): Conrad distinguishes race and critiques imperialism with dialect.

“Melanctha” (1909): Stein experiments with dialect to emphasize how things are said and what is left unsaid.

As I Lay Dying (1930): Faulkner’s use of dialect to emphasize regionalism in the United States.

Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937): As part of the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston uses black dialect to represent black life.

These four works use dialect for different purposes. Over the course of time that these works were written, dialect moves from emphasizing a point to representing different lifestyles. Dialect in Heart of Darkness is a point of shame, whereas dialect in Their Eyes Were Watching God is a source of pride.

Struggling

In all of the four novels we have read in this section, each character had to face something they rather not worry about. In Mrs. Dalloway, Mrs. Dalloway is struggling to put a party together and is questioning her relationship with her husband, in As I lay Dying,  Addie Bundren’s family is trying to figure out why the murder happened, in Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie tells her story of being Aferican-American during the slavery period, and lastly in Untouchable, Bakha is torn between following Christianity or following the teachings of Ghandi.

In each of these novels, the reader can learn about other people’s lives, and think outside of their own world. Each novel tells a great meaningful story that can be relatable to everyday life.

Class and Society

Mrs. Dalloway: The main characters are decidedly upper class. Most of them are well-to-do.

Their Eyes Were Watching God: The main characters range from middle to upper class.

As I Lay Dying: The main characters in the story are middle to lower class.

Untouchable: The main characters are the lowest of the low class.

These novels came out in different eras and reflect different societies. They all deal very heavily with issues of class and social stratification. The worst situations are reserved for the characters in Untouchable. This is interesting because these books represent a decent amount of the twentieth century world. Interestingly, the more modern books don’t deal with the higher classes. It would be assumed that social stratification becomes less of an issue as time goes on because people begin to understand compassion and the unfairness of inequality. According to these novels, however, this is not the case.