Tag Archives: direct discourse

Film as escapism

“Some lights went out and the show started–a Tamil film with all known gods in it. He soon lost himself in the politics and struggles of gods and goddesses; he sat rapt in the vision of a heavenly world which some film director had chosen to present. This felicity of forgetfulness lasted but half an hour. Soon the heroine of the story sat on a low branch of a tree in paradise and wouldn’t move out of the place. This portion tired Iswaran and now there returned all the old pains and gloom. ‘Oh, lady,’ Iswaran appealed, ‘don’t add to my troubles, please move on.'”

Narayan, R.K. Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin, 2006. 55.

Untouchables…Shift in Thoughts

“But the nights! ‘I must get another blanket,’ he said to himself. ‘Then father won’t ask me to put the quilt on. He always keeps abusing me. He is happy when they call him Jemadar. So proud of his izzat! He just goes about getting salaams from everybody. I don’t take a moment’s rest and yet he abuses me. And if I go to play with the boys he calls me in the middle of a game to attend the latrines. He is old. He doesn’t know anything of the sahibs. And now he will call me to get up, and it is so cold. He will keep lying in bed and Rakha and Sohini will still be asleep, when I go to the latrines.'” (12).

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Group, 2014. Print. 12.

After ending the sentence nights with an exclamation,  the author begins a shift in order to get into the mind of Bakha himself which is filled with direct discourse since he uses I to get his point across along with a tone that is filled with hatred-bitterness for his father based on he way he abuses him. Just by Bakha describing how his father is proud of his izzat, it seems like there is hatred within that sentence just by reading it since his father believes his title gives him some type of upper class status, but in reality it does not since it all depends on the caste system. Soon after the author shifts back to third person narration once more.

Internal Monologue Spoken Aloud

“That’s all, I think,” he murmured to himself. “Stay- I may as well have you –  you may come in useful – one never knows.”

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

The direct quotation of an internalized thought spoken out loud is an interesting aspect of Sayers’ narrative form. Whereas in “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”, Joyce would use free indirect discourse to display the thoughts of a focalized character (Stephen) through the narrator, Sayers has Lord Peter speak his own internalized thoughts aloud. Joyce would even go as far as to have the narrator transcribe characters idiomatic phrases as the narrators own, bringing in the question of representation and narrative bias. By having Lord Peter speak his thoughts, there is less distance from reader to character, thus negating any possibility of a biased narrator.

The most interesting aspect of this quote is the phrase, “Stay- I may as well have you” as Lord Peter is alone in this scene. Its a questionable thought but it seems as if Lord Peter is speaking directly to the reader at this point. If so, Lord Peter’s actions would be concurrent with the typical conventions of a detective story, as this half of the quote strongly bolsters Peters bombastic ego. Needing a seemingly omniscient detective to retell the story of the crime in order to solve it is the mark of a conventional detective story, and this quote seems to reassure the reader that Lord Peter is in fact that character.

Wimsey the Obvious

“The deuce you have–what an energetic devil you are! I say, Parker, I think this co-operative scheme is is an uncommonly good one. It’s much easier to work on someone else’s job than one’s own–gives one that delightful feelin’ of interferin’ and bossin’ about, combined with the glorious sensation that another fellow is takin’ all one’s own work off one’s hands. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, what? Did you find anything?” (Sayers 29).

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

This passage contains many examples of Wimsey’s dialect, characterized by unfinished present progressive verbs and the act of spouting out all of his ideas as they come into his head. This type of dialogue is different from both Stein’s “Melanctha” and Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. For example, Wimsey’s dialect differs from that of Melanctha because it is rather common or believable, while Melanctha’s dialect is skewed to fit into Stein’s own writing style. Rather that structuring sentences in strange ways like Stein, Sayers merely uses dialects of voice or accents. Furthermore, Whose Body? clearly lacks the free-indirect discourse of a modern novel like Joyce’s and focuses more on direct reported discourse. Because of this, Wimsey’s thoughts come to the reader clearly and easily, unlike Joyce’s style of vague and “infected” narration in which the reader is unsure of whose thoughts he receives.