Monthly Archives: October 2014

Vardaman’s Understanding of Death

“My mother is a fish” (84).


Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text. New York: Modern Library, 2000. Print.

This quotation refers to a poignant moment within Faulkner’s work.  Vardaman, the youngest of the children, compares his notion of his mother to a fish that died that day.  It demonstrates his confusion toward the concept of death in general and “death’s” constant  presence within the novel itself.

“That’s what they mean by the love that passeth understanding: that pride, that furious desire to hide that abject nakedness which we bring here with us, carry with us into operating rooms,carry stubbornly and furiously with us into the earth again”.

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text. New York: Modern Library, 2000. Print.

When reading this passage I felt an overwhelming sense of passion, judgement, and love. The book itself is not moralistic but I felt this passage revealed a sense of values and a very consciousness of them always being aware of their values. They are carried everywhere and their lives can be interpreted by the values they carry with them.

Septimus and Lucrezia: Emotional Inequality

“And it was cowardly for a man to say he would kill himself, but Septimus had fought; he was brave; he was not Septimus now. She put on her lace collar. She put on her new hat and he never noticed; and he was happy without her. Nothing could make her happy without him! Nothing! He was selfish. So men are. For he was not ill. Dr. Holmes said there was nothing the matter with him. She spread her hand before her. Look! Her wedding ring slipped- she had grown so thin. It was she who suffered- but she had nobody to tell.”

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Inc. 1925. Print. p.23.

This passage demonstrates the disconnect from prewar life that a veteran faces postwar, and the stress this disconnect puts on the family of the veteran. The free indirect discourse of Lucrezia, “Nothing could make her happy without him! Nothing!”, albeit melodramatic sounding is a good juxtaposition to the emotional numbness that Septimus is feeling postwar.

Recalling Memories

“For it was the middle of June. The war was over, except for some one like Mrs. Foxcroft at the Embassy last night eating her heart out because that nice boy was killed…John, her favorite, killed; but it was over; thank Heaven- over”.

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Inc. 1925. Print. p.5

It is interesting how Woolf takes Clarissa from the present to the past through the narration. The change is quite subtle that readers do not realize the change until you get further into the past presented in this text. This passage is narrated exactly how a person thinks of the past. We usually state a time, event, and the most memorable thing that happened within that event. Also the phrase “but it was over; thank Heaven- over” implies the change to the present recollecting past memories. It is almost as if Clarissa relived that moment briefly than came back to reality.

Realization as a Comment of Style

As a child he had walked in Regent’s Park-odd, he thought, how the thought of childhood keeps coming back to me-the result of seeing Clarissa, perhaps; for women live much more in the past then we do, he though.

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Inc. 1925. Print. p.55

Peter’s remark on how women tend to reminisce on past events is indicative of Woolf’s use of analepsis when Woolf’s narrative is focalized around female characters in the novel.

Woolf’s use of parentheses

And Elizabeth didn’t like it either. (Still the last tremors of the great booming voice shook the air around him; the half-hour; still early; only half past eleven still.)

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Inc. 1925. Print. p.49

Woolf seems to use parentheses a lot in this writing. It seems that it usually is used to give information on what a specific characters internal thoughts and detail that is going on around them.


“Such are the visions which ceaselessly float up, pace beside, put their faces in front of, the actual thing; often overpowering the solitary traveler and taking away from him the sense of the earth, the wish to return, and giving him for substitute a general peace, as if (so he thinks as he advances down the forest ride) all this fever of living were simplicity itself; and myriads of things merged in one thing; and this figure, made of sky and branches as it is, had risen from the troubled sea (he is elderly, past fifty now) as a shape might be sucked up out of the waves to shower down from her magnificent hands compassion, comprehension, absolution.” (56)

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Inc. 1925. Print. p.56

There is both a sense of loneliness in how we are shown Peter here, as well as a sense of peace. This acceptance and peace derived from loneliness is something that I think resonates with multiple characters throughout the novel.


The sun became extraordinarily hot because the motor car had stopped…old ladies on the tops of omnibuses spread their black parasols; here a green, here a red parasol opened with a little pop…

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. San Diego: Harcourt, 1925. Page 15.

The entire passage as a whole is quite interesting. The focalization is very fast paced and all over the place.

Woolf’s Writing Style

“She sat on the floor – that was her first impression of Sally – she sat on the floor with her arms round her knees, smoking a cigarette. Where could it have been? The Mannings? The Kinloch-Jones’s? At some party (where, she could not be certain), for she had a distinct recollection of saying to the man she was with, “Who is that?“” (32-33)

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Inc. 1925. Print.

The free indirect discourse that Woolf uses so frequently is evident in the passage above. Even if written in third person, the rhetorical questions asked, imitate the style of Clarissa’s voice. It is interesting to see the text go back and forth with absolute third person and that of free indirect discourse.