Tag Archives: death

A New Beginning

“And when she gained the privacy of her own little shack she stayed on her knees so long she forgot she was there herself.  There is a basin in the mind where words float around on thought and thought on sound and sight.  Then there is a depth of thought untouched by words, and deeper still a gulf of formless feelings untouched by thought.  Nanny entered this infinity of conscious pain again on her old knees.  Towards morning she muttered, ‘Lawd, you know mah heart.  Ah done de best Ah could do.  De rest is left to you.’  She scuffled up from her knees and fell heavily across the bed.  A month later she was dead” (24).

Hurston, Zora Neale.  Their Eyes Were Watching God.  New York: Harper Collins, 1998.

Notes: Janie not constrained anymore by her mother’s wishes.  free to leave her husband.  Nanny did what she did because she does not want Janie to have a life like she had.  Mind thoughts–making excuses.  Security for Janie

As Addie Lay Dying…

“The quilt is drawn up to her chin, hot as it is, with only her two hands and her face outside. She is propped on the pillow, with her head raised so she can see out the window, and we can hear him every time he takes up the adze or the saw. If we were deaf we could almost watch her face and hear him, see him. Her face is wasted away so that the bones draw just under the skin in white lines. Her eyes are like two candles when you watch them gutter down into the sockets of iron candlesticks.  But the eternal and the everlasting salvation and grace is not upon her…Under the quilt she makes no more of a hump than a rail would, and the only way you can tell she is breathing is by the sound of the mattress shucks. Even the hair at her cheek does not move, even with that girl standing right over her, fanning her with the fan” (6-7).

 

Faulkner, W. (2012). As i lay dying. (pp. 6-7). New York: The Modern Library.

 

Notes: The reader can really sense death here, especially with the description of Addie’s eyes being “like two candlesticks.”  Through the description of Addie, the reader can see that she is not far from dying and that she is “wasting away.”

Nick the Invincible

“They were seated in the boat, Nick in the stern, his father rowing. The sun was coming up over the hills. A bass jumped, making a circle in the water. Nick trailed his hand in the water. It felt warm in the sharp chill of the morning… In the early morning on the lake sitting in the stern of the boat with his father rowing, he felt quite sure that he would never die.”

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

Notes: diction is very factual, movement (rowing, sunrise, ripples in water), feels unstoppable, constantly moving never motionless,  death=weakness

 

The bull of Death

“Maera lay still, his head on his arms, his face in the sand. He felt warm and sticky from the bleeding. Each time he felt the horn coming. Sometimes the bull only bumped him with his head. Once the horn went all the way through him and he felt it go into the sand. Some one had the bull by the tail. They were swearing at him and flopping the cape in his face. Then the bull was gone. Some men picked Maera up and started to run with him toward the barriers through the gate out the passageway around under the grandstand to the infirmary. They laid Maera down on a cot and one of the men went out for the doctor. The others stood around. The doctor came running from the corral where he had been sewing up picador horses. He had to stop and wash his hands. There was a great shouting going on in the grandstand overhead. Maera felt everything getting larger and larger and then smaller and smaller. Then it got larger and larger and larger and then smaller and smaller. Then everything commenced to run faster and faster as when they speed up a cinematograph film. Then he was dead.” (131) – Chapter XIV

Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time, Scribner Editions, 2003

Forever Young

“They were seated in the boat, Nick in the stern, his father rowing. The sun was coming up over the hills. A bass jumped, making a circle in the water. Nick trailed his hand in the water. It felt warm in the sharp chill of the morning. In the early morning on the lake sitting in the stern of the boat with his father rowing, he felt quite sure that he would never die” (19).

Ernest, H. (2003). In our time. (p. 19). New York: Simon & Schuster.

 

Notes: After seeing new life and death within minutes of each other, young Nick does not think he is going to die. This is a common trait that young children and even young adults share: they do not think that aging like their parents is possible and that it is very far off.  Additionally, Nick may not think he will ever die because he feels so alive with a new day ahead.

Matter-of-Fact

“Here the baby was born, and here it died, and then Rose went back to her house again with Sam” (Stein 89).

“During this year ‘Mis’ Herbert as her neighbors called her, Melanctha’s pale yellow mother was very sick, and in this year she died” (Stein 110).

This narrative is written from the point of view of a third person limited narrator in the character-bound focalization of Melanctha. The way in which the narrator writes the story, and these two peculiar statements in particular, is very telling of Melanctha’s character: She is able to write without emotion or any subjectivity about the deaths of two people, one being a newborn baby and the other being the main character’s mother. The narrator says very simply the facts of what happened, as if she is reporting about the weather. This lack of feeling is consistent with Melanctha’s lack of wisdom and experience. She wants to learn how to love and feel deeply, but her detachment from Rose’s baby and ‘Mis’ Herbert causes her to not express any kind of emotions when mentioning the events of their deaths. The main character does not yet understand the world and what it expects of her, but she is desperately trying to figure that out.

Gertrude Stein, “Melanctha,” in Three Lives (New York: The Grafton Press, 1909).

Understanding

He came back the next day, but she was then unable to see him, and as it was literally the first time this had occurred in the long stretch of their acquaintance he turned away, defeated and sore, almost angry – or feeling at least that such a break in their custom was really the beginning of the end – and wandered alone with his thoughts, especially with one of them that he was unable to keep down. She was dying, and he would lose her ; she was dying, and his life would end. He stopped in the park, into which he had passed, and stared before him at his recurrent doubt. Away from her the doubt pressed again ; in her presence he had believed her, but as he felt his forlornness he threw himself into the explanation that, nearest at hand, had  most of a miserable warmth for him and least of a cold torment. She had deceived him to save him – to put him off with something in which he should be able to rest. What could the thing that was to happen to him be, after all, but just this thing that had begun to happen ? Her dying, her death, his consequent solitude – that was what he had figured as the beast in the jungle, that was what had been in the lap of the gods.

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle”, in Major Stories & Essays, Library of America College Editions, 1999), p477