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.
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.
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.
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.
“…What a lark! What a plunge! For so it had always seemed to her, when, with a little squeak of the hinges, which she could hear now, she had burst open the French windows and plunged at Bourton into the open air. How fresh, how calm, stiller than this of course, the air was in the early morning; like the flap of a wave; the kiss of a wave…” (Woolf 3). 1925.
“Before us the thick dark current runs. It talk up to us in a murmur become ceaseless and myriad, the yellow surface dimpled and monstrously into fading swirls travelling along the surface for an instant, silent, impermanent and profoundly significant, as though just beneath the surface something huge and alive waked for a moment of lazy alertness out of and into light slumber again” (Faulkner 141). 1930.
“He felt dejected, utterly miserable. Was the pleasure of Charat Singh’s generosity only to be enjoyed half an hour? What had he done to deserve such treatment? He loved the child…Of course, I polluted the child. I couldn’t help in doing so…It started on account of the goal I scored. Cursed me!” (Anand 116). 1935.
“But oh God, don’t let Tea Cake be off somewhere hurt and Ah not know nothing about it. And God, please suh, don’t let him love nobody else but me. Maybe Ah’m is uh fool, Lawd, lak dey say, but Lawd, Ah been so lonesome, and Ah been waitin’, Jesus. Ah done waited uh long time” (Hurston 120). 1937.
Free indirect discourse can be found throughout many of the works we’ve read, especially these four. This device works on many levels and for many different reasons. In Mrs. Dalloway Woolf utilizes it to explore the inner workings of the mind that cannot necessarily be accessed on a tangible level. For Faulker, FID works to break up the short sentences, offering us a glimpse into the deeper minds of his characters, especially when the timing lapses, and we see how some of the inner, indirect discourse works to express these overarching themes. Anand uses it to explore the theme of class and caste, which is the most prominent theme in the text (and also prevalent in many others we’ve focused on). And Hurston uses FID as a device to interact with and question the way language works in her novel, in terms of the dialogue, dialect, and indirect discourse, and how they all work together.
It was then, and then I saw Darl and he knew. He said he knew without the words like he told me that ma is going to die without words, and I knew he knew because if he had said he knew with the words I would not have believed that he had been there and saw us. But he said he did know and I said “Are you going to tell pa are you going to kill him?” without the words I said it and he said “Why?” without the words.
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (New York: Random House, 1964), 26.
Notes: ironic how Dewey Dell uses so many words to describe an exchange of no words; run-on sentence structure – emphasis of thoughts without spoken words?; saying one knows something vs. actually knowing something
“Durn that road. And it fixing to rain, too. I can stand here and same as see it with second-sigh, a-shutting down behind them like a wall, shutting down betwixt them and my given promise. I do the best I can, much as I can get my mind on anything, but durn them boys.” (35)
Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York: Vintage International, 1990. Print.
“Whitfield begins. His voice is bigger than him. It’s like they are not the same. It’s like he is one, and his voice is one, swimming on two horses side by side across the ford and coming into the house, the mud-splashed one and the one that never got wet, triumphant and sad” ( Faulkner 91).
Notes: a combination but also a separation.
Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York: Vintage International, 1990. Print.
“Addie Bundren could not want a better one, a better box to lie in. It will give her confidence and comfort. I go on to the house followed by the
Chuck. Chuck. Chuck.
of the adze.”
Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. Print.
Notes: I liked the placement and spacing of the “chucks”. I read it in my head slower and more pronounced, which I think is probably what Faulkner was going for.
“She ought to taken them,” Kate says. “But those rich town ladies can change their minds. Poor folks cant.” (7)
Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York: Random House, 1930. Print
Notes: Social class separated by wealth. Those who have more money have more choices. Showing the struggles people face. Changing your mind is not a right, but a privilege.