Three Lives (“Melanctha”) by Stein was published in 1909. In Our Time by Hemingway and Mrs. Dalloway by Woolf was published in 1925. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Hurston was published in 1937. As we discussed during the beginning of the semester, these texts would be labeled under the modernist movement. However, modernism is just the umbrella; each text has its own individual way of breaking away from the “norms.” Interestingly enough, “Melanctha” and Their Eyes Were Watching God have some similarities such as the black vernacular that is used. However, the reader must keep in mind that the ethnicity of the authors are different, which may impact the analytical aspect of the stories. In Our Time and Mrs. Dalloway share more similarities than differences: 1) both texts were published the same year and 2) while Hemingway’s text possesses elements of masculinity, Woolf’s text can arguably posses elements of feminism.
“The people all saw her come because it was sundown…It was the time to hear things and talk. These sitters had been tongueless. earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes had occupied their skins. But now, the sun and the bossman were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human. They became lords of sounds and lesser things” (p. 1).
Hurston, Zora N. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Perennial Library, 1990. Print.
The reason this passage is so interesting is that it sets up a generalized, yet detailed account of this community. It expresses the social dynamics of the community.
“Ever since he was a child he had walked past the wooden stall on which lay heaped the scarlet and khaki uniforms discarded or pawned by the Tommies, pith solar topees, peak caps, knives, forks, buttons, old books and other oddments of Anglo-Indian life. And he had hungered for the touch of them. But he had never mustered up courage enough to go up to the keeper of the shop and to ask him the price of anything, lest it should be a price he could not pay and lest the man should find out from his talk that he was a sweeper-boy” (p. 11).
Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. England: Penguin. 1940. Print.
While only reading the first few pages, this passage stood out to me. It expresses a sense of hope that Bakha wishes for. It is an intense passage that evokes sympathy in the reader.
“My mother is a fish.” (p. 84)
Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text. First Vintage International Edition. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. Print.
This is the only sentence in this chapter and it expresses Vardaman’s way of dealing with death. He turns it into something he knows and can deal with.
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.
They shot the six cabinet ministers…There were pools of water in the courtyard. There were wet dead leaves on the paving of the courtyard…One of the ministers was sick with typhoid. Two soldiers carried him downstairs and out into the rain…When they fired the first volley he was sitting down in the water with his head on his knees.
Hemingway, Ernest. In Our Time. New York: Scribner, 1996.
Compared to the few readings prior to this one (Chapter V), Hemingway practically extracts and removes any form of emotion from this passage. The passage gives readers a small chill up their spine due to the realism that is perceived.
“Trusting I have now made clear to you any point which you may have found obscure, and with congratulations on the good fortune and perspicacity which have enabled you to defeat me, I remain, with kind remembrances to your mother,
Yours Very Truly,
Post-Scriptum: …I feel sure that my brain will be of interest to the scientific world. As I shall die by my own hand, I imagine that there may be a little difficulty about this” (pp. 139-40).
Sayers, Dorothy. Whose Body? 1923. Reprint, New York: Dover, 2009.
Sayers, in this passage and throughout the novel, knows how to keep a reader on the edge of their seat while reading Whose Body?. By the end of each chapter, Sayers has a tendency to use cliff hangers, wanting the reader to read more. However, in this passage specifically, it is quite interesting how Freke’s letter is ended mid-sentence, yet continues with the “Post-Scriptum” after he signs the letter. Compared to the other texts we have read, the other authors use many literary devices to somewhat distract the reader from the actual text. Stein’s story “Melanctha,” for example, has the tendency to use complex diction that leads readers away from the actual story/plot that is occurring. Sayers, on the other hand, is more of a easy-read, for lack of a better term. Readers know exactly what is happening while they are reading.
“In tender hearted natures, those that mostly never feel strong passion, suffering often comes to make them harder. When these do not know in themselves what it is to suffer, suffering is then very awful to them and they badly want to help everyone who ever has to suffer, and they have a deep reverence for anybody who knows really how to always suffer. But when it comes to them to really suffer, they soon begin to lose their fear and tenderness and wonder. Why it isn’t so very much to suffer, when even I can bear to do it. It isn’t very pleasant to be having all the time, to stand it, but they are not so much wiser after all, all the others just because they know too how to bear it” (page 110).
Stein, Gertrude. “Melanctha.” In Three Lives. 1909. Reprint, New York: Dover, 1994.
Throughout the story there tends to be passages of free indirect discourse various times, however this passage does not necessarily provide free indirect discourse. It is doing quite the opposite. This passage is fairly different & unique to the story. It’s almost as if the narrator is giving some form of insight to the reader. However, the main element that makes this passage so idiosyncratic or distinctive is due to the fact that “I” is used. It is not in quotes, so it cannot be dialogue & it doesn’t seem to reflect a character’s thought process. Can this be the narrator putting their two cents within the story?
“The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky — seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness” (pp. 186-7).
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness and Other Tales. Rev. ed. Edited by Cedric Watts. Oxford University Press, 2002.
Although this scene is quite crucial to the story as a whole, along with the title, as well, the narrator actually repeats himself here. To illustrate, on page 104 (beginning of Part 1) the narrator states the following: “…the tranquil dignity of a waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth.” There is a contrast, however, between the two times he states this. The description of the waterway in beginning expresses a more positive vibe, whereas the ending’s description is “dark” and somewhat mysterious.
“…if a writer were a free man and not a slave, if he could write what he chose, not what he must, if he could base his work upon his own feeling and not upon convention, there would be no plot, no comedy, no tragedy, no love interest or catastrophe in the accepted style, and perhaps not a single button sewn on as the Bond Street tailors would have it…life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.”
Woolf, Virginia. “Modern Fiction.” In The Common Reader, 150. San Diego, CA: Harcourt, 1925.
Woolf has profound opinions concerning writers and restrictions that are placed on writing, in general. This statement is quite baffling, yet somewhat true. It seems as if a writer writes his ‘own feelings’ it would not be considered fiction. Therefore that is why it would not be ‘accepted’ as ‘modern fiction.’