All posts by MM

Trust me, I follow you.

“This was the first time he was going to do a piece of acting before a patient, simulate a feeling and conceal his judgement.” (25)

Narayan, R.K. “The Doctor’s Word.” Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin Classics, 2006. Print.

While I really enjoyed this great story that brings attention to the difficulties inherent in intermingling professional and personal relationships, I’ve found that overall, I think Narayan relies too heavily on exposition and telling, at times when subtlety might be more poignant. I was already gathering from the previous paragraphs that the doctor was hiding his true feelings, and the previous paragraphs do a good job of showing you why, without actually coming out and saying it. Unfortunately, this quote made me feel like Narayan doesn’t trust my ability to read and interpret.

Disparity only changes it’s face.

One of the greatest topics that I have noticed being covered by nearly every work we have read is that of class.  Anand’s Untouchable (1935), Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) , Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying (1925)  and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899), illustrate to us that through the years, no matter the location or specific group of characters, class continues to be a factor of major importance and intrigue.

There is a clear continuity in class distinction and disparity throughout each of these novels, with no clear resolution through time. For instance, while in 1899, Imperialism is shown in spades throughout Heart of Darkness, it is still an issue (although in a different location), in Untouchable. Not only do these two show class disparity, but also inequality in both race and cultures.

As I Lay Dying and Their Eyes Were Watching God reveal a slightly different form of class disparity, in that they don’t revolve around themes of one group of people AGAINST another, but are more revealing in their disparity through the largely missing discussions of these disparities. The reveal is through ignorance rather than understanding.

Over the difference of 38 years, we can see that the face of disparity changes, but it’s power and overall grip on societies, does not. No matter the location, or the cultures and classes involved, this continues to be a problem throughout the world. It’s so interesting to see it from so many points of view, and each authors different style helps to bring us closer to these people that we may never have considered otherwise. Historically, the significance is quite clear, even when the issues never quite get resolved. We cannot make changes if they aren’t consistent

The beauty of newness in a bees life.

“She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation.” (11)

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

This appears to be the very moment that Janie realizes what she wants out of life. Unfortunately, while the intensity of this moment is one that we often find in new love, she will one day find that it wavers with age and only becomes stale and bland. Beautiful imagery though! Interestingly, Hurston uses a bee to create this moment of realization, when the bee itself would never live long enough to lose that feeling of newness.

Hypocrisy?

“Ever since he had worked in the British barracks Bakha had been ashamed of the Indian way of performing ablutions, all that gargling and spitting, because he knew the Tommies disliked it. He remembered so well the Tommies’ familiar abuse of the natives: ‘Kala admi zamin par hagne wala’ (black man you who relieve yourself on the ground). But he himself had been ashamed at the sight of Tommies running naked to their tub baths. ‘Disgraceful,’ he had said to himself. They were, however, sahibs.”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Group, 2014. 18-19. Print.

What I find interesting about this is the level of seeming hypocrisy that can be found in his feelings towards the caste system. On one hand he looks up to and wants to emulate the Tommies, while on the other, he still has a level of disgust for their behaviors. Taking this idea even further, while he seems to want to abandon the ideas of a horrid  caste system, he acknowledges the Tommies position in a form of globalized caste system (being sahibs, masters over the Indian people). Therefore, it doesn’t appear that he so much wants to abandon the idea of castes completely, but that he wants to move up the ladder to a more civilized level of a more globalized caste system.

Death is a community experience?

“I can remember when I was young I believed death to be a phenomenon of the body; now I know it to be merely a function of the mind — and that of the mind of the ones who suffer the bereavement.” (44)

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text. First Vintage International Edition. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. Print.

It seems to me that Peabody is saying that death is an experience of the people left behind, more so than the people who have actually died. If I’m interpreting this correctly, this would make sense as this communal experience appears to be a running theme of the novel.

Loneliness!

“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.

Beautiful sumnation…

“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)

Hemingway, Ernest. “Indian Camp” In Our Time. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 2003. 19. Print.

This last sentence is such an effective and powerful usage of minimalism. The final repetition of the early time of day speaks to the new beginning of life and learning. Sitting in the stern while his father rows seems to suggest that while he has learned a valuable lesson, he is still not far enough along that he can guide himself forward. This is further evidenced by his feelings of immortality, something that is present in us all at such a young age.

Slang and tone

“I wonder what he did with himself,” said Lord Peter thoughtfully. “I really don’t think he was committing a murder. Besides, I believe the fellow has been dead a day or two, though it don’t do to build too much on doctors’ evidence. It’s an entertainin’ little problem.” (27)

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

I find the different ways that Lord Peter speaks to people very interesting. With some he adopts a slang of sorts and in others he is far more formal. Oddly, this is not something I notice in most other characters. While it is normal for most of us, it seems that often characters  in other texts are very similar in their interactions with all people.

Love? Really?

“Yes I love you Jeff, how often you want me to tell you. Oh you so stupid Jeff, but yes I love you. Now I won’t say it no more now tonight Jeff, you hear me. You just be good Jeff now to me or else I certainly get awful angry with you. Yes I love you, sure, Jeff, though you don’t any way deserve it from me.”

Stein, Gertrude. “Melanctha.” Three lives. Dover Publications, New York. 1994. 104. Print

I don’t think either of them really loves the other, the way love is meant to be. They have never been what the other really wants, and it seems as though they are just trying something on for size.

 

 

A real man knows his place!

“It was unearthly, and the men were-No, they were not inhuman. Well, you know, that was the worst of it-the suspicion of their not being inhuman. It would come slowly to one. They howled and leaped, and spun, and made horrid faces; but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity-like yours-the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar. Ugly. Yes, it was ugly enough; but if you were man enough you would admit to yourself that there was in you just the faintest trace of a response to the terrible frankness of that noise, a dim suspicion of there being a meaning in it which you-you so remote from the night of first ages-could comprehend. And why not?”

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness and Other Tales. “Heart of Darkness”, 139. Oxford: Oxford NY, 2002.

I absolutely love this passage! It’s interesting to get such a clear glimpse of this  “better than thou” colonial attitude. What I find even more telling of the times, is how, even in his attempt at semi-identification with the African people, he still leans heavily on the condescension. If you were a real man, you might slightly identify that you have some connection with these lowly people.