All posts by KMK

Attila

“It was all well that Attila had no powers of speech. Otherwise he would have burst into a lamentation which would have shattered the pedestal under his feet” (101).

Narayan, R.K. “Father’s Help.” Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin Classics, 2006. Print.

Narayan seems to use Attila to criticize his owners: they immediately assume that Attila was acting on their behalf, when actually Attila was trying to ensure that his new friend would not desert him. In this particularly ironic passage, it seems that Narayan is trying to highlight Attila’s owners as self-involved and ignorant: they assume that Attila is acting for them and does not take into consideration Attila’s own desires (even if he is just a dog).

Narrative vs. Quotational Language

“Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches” (8).

“Ah ain’t never seen mah papa. And Ah didn’t know ‘im if Ah did. Mah mama neither. She was gone from round dere long before Ah quz big enough tuh know…” (8).

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006. Print.

It is interesting to consider the differences in language in narration and Janie’s direct quotations; the narration makes use of complex metaphors and somewhat lofty language, whereas Janie’s quotations are written in a dialect that is simple and makes her seem uneducated. Considering this, the narration then seems important as a way to force the reader to consider Janie beyond her simple way of speaking and to consider her as a more complex, intelligent, and thoughtful person.

Dissonance between Bhaka’s thoughts and reality

“He had been told they were sahibs, superior people. He had felt that to put on their clothes made one a sahib too” (11).

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Group, 2014. Print.

This passage shows Bhaka’s view of sahibs as “superior people”. It is interesting that in this passage, it is noted that Bhaka feels that wearing the clothes of sahibs makes one a sahib too, yet when he wears their clothes later on in the book, he is mocked by other people in the outercaste. This shows a certain dissonance between Bhaka’s thoughts and reality.

Cora’s Mentality

“I have tried to live right in the sight of God and man, for the honor and comfort of my Christian husband and the love and respect of my Christian children. So that when I lay me down in the consciousness of my duty and reward I will be surrounded by loving faces, carrying the farewell kiss of each of my loved ones into my reward. Not like Addie Bundren dying alone, hiding her pride and her broken heart. Glad to go. Lying there with her head propped up so she could watch Cash building the coffin, having to watch him so he would not skimp on it, like as not, with those men not worrying about anything except if there was time to ean another three dollars before the rain come and the river got too high to get across it. Like as not, if they hadn’t decided to make that last load, they would have loaded her into the wagon on a quilt and crossed the river first and then stopped and give her time to die what Christian death they would let her” (24).

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

This passage exhibits a common theme among Cora’s passages: her stubborn, judgmental, and somewhat unforgiving Christian mentality. This passage in particular seems to exude a bitter tone, especially towards Addie and her family.

Contemplative Clarissa

“For they might be parted for hundreds of years, she and Peter; she never wrote a letter and his were dry sticks; but suddenly it would come over her, If he were with me now what would he say?–some days, some sights bringing him back to her calmly, without the old bitterness; which perhaps was the reward of having cared for people; they came back in the middle of St. James’s Park on a fine morning–indeed they did.” (7)

“If he were with me now what would he say?” Clarissa is very contemplative and self-reflective. Even after several years of rejecting Peter’s marriage proposal, she still thinks about it and him often.

Bitterness & Morbidity in Hemingway’s Writings

Two significant recurrences in several of the stories in Hemingway’s “In Our Time”, are a certain bitter, sarcastic tone and also a distinct morbidity. Take for instance the last paragraph in “On the Quai at Smyrna”: “The Greeks were nice chaps too. When they evacuated they had all their baggage animals they couldn’t take off with them so they just broke their forelegs and dumped them into the shallow water. All those mules with their forelegs broken pushed over into the shallow water. It was all a pleasant business. My word yes a most pleasant business” (12).

Hemingway is very obviously sarcastic in calling the Greeks “nice chaps” and the morbidity is evident in the description of the cruel treatment of the animals. This morbidity can again be seen in “Indian Camp” when the blanket is pulled off the Indian only to find he killed himself during his wife’s labor (18).

Hemingway, Ernest. In Our Time. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1958. Print.

Description in Whose Body? vs Heart of Darkness

The body which lay in the bath was that of a tall, stout man of about fifty. The hair, which was thick and black and naturally curly, had been cut and parted by a master hand, and exuded a faint violet perfume, perfectly recognisable in the close air of the bathroom. The features were thick, fleshy and strongly marked, with prominent dark eyes, and a long nose curving down to a heavy chin. The clean-shaven lips were full and sensual, and the dropped jaw showed teeth stained with tobacco. On the dead face the handsome pair of pince-nez mocked death with grotesque elegance; the fine gold chain curved over the naked breast. The legs lay stiffly stretched out side by side; the arms reposed close to the body; the fingers were flexed naturally.” (Sayers 8)

Sayers, Dorothy. Whose Body? 1923. Reprint, New York: Dover, 2009.

Throughout the novel, Sayers is very specific in her descriptions: within the first few pages of the novel, she explicitly describes a detailed account of the body to the reader. Conrad, in Heart of Darkness, does quite the opposite. Most of the information that the reader finds out comes from dialogue with another person. The most obvious example being that the entire experience is told through Marlow. Even among Marlow’s description, a lot of the information that is found out is through dialogue.  For example, the reader learns of Kurtz very early on in the story, but only through conversation Marlow has with other people.

Fiction and paintings competing with life

“The only reason for the existence of a novel is that it does compete with life. When it ceases to compete as the canvas of the painter competes, it will have arrived at a very strange pass. It is not expected of the picture that it will make itself humble in order to be forgiven; and the analogy between the art of the painter and the art of the novelist is, so far as I am able to see, complete. Their inspiration is the same, their process (allowing for the different quality of the vehicle) is the same, their success is the same. They may learn from each other, they may explain and sustain each other.”
James, Henry. Partial Portraits. Macmillan and Co. London. 1894. https://archive.org/stream/partialportraits00jameiala#page/378/mode/2up
Fiction is art in the same sense that paintings are art: they both seek to capture and imitate the various experiences that make up and influence human existence.