Hearing the Voice in Joyce

O how cold and strange it was to think of that! All the dark was cold and strange. There were pale strange faces there, great eyes like carriagelamps. They were the ghosts of murderers, the figures of marshals who had received their death wound on battlefields far away over the sea. What did they wish to say that their faces were so strange? (Joyce, 16)

Note: Choice of diction within this passage is significant. Repetition of “cold” and “strange” emphasizes a neurotic and restless voice. 

The train was full of fellows: a long long chocolate train with cream facings. The guards went to and fro opening, closing, locking, unlocking the doors. They were men in dark blue and silver; they had silvery whistles and their keys made a quick music: click, click: click, click. (Joyce, 17)

Note: This passage, as well as the above mentioned, carries the same anxious feel except it is illustrated with a poetic sound rather than the use of repeated words. Sentences are broken up with punctuation like commas and colons, creating these fragmented catching-the-breath-like sounds.

1 thought on “Hearing the Voice in Joyce

  1. These two passages are very interesting to read in comparison to each other. The emphasis on faces and description of these men gives a very eerie feel, showing Stephen’s sense of isolation and distance from these people. By not using any type of familiarity in his words, he portrays these people as very “otherly” and almost frightening. Your focus on syntax and diction definitely adds to this argument. This fragmentation of sentences, along with these interesting choices in description, unify these passages and highlights Stephen’s sense of relation to others.

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