Tag Archives: free indirect discourse

Faulkner and “saying without words”

“And so it was because I could not help it. It was then, and then I saw Darl and he knew. He said he knew without the words like he told me that ma is going to die without words, and I knew he knew because if he had said he knew with the words I would not have believed that he had been there and saw us. But he said he did know and I said “Are you going to tell pa are you going to kill him?” without the words I said it and he said “Why?” without the words. And that’s why I can talk to him with knowing with hating because he knows.”

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text. First Vintage International Edition. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. Print. 27.

How much of this paragraph was actually spoken out loud?

 

 

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.

Shifting perspectives

“It was wonderful. Never had he done anything which made him feel so proud. It was so real, it was substantial, Mrs. Peters’ hat.
“Just look at it,” he said.
Yes, it would always make her happy to see that hat. He had become himself then, he had laughed then. They had been alone together. Always she would like that hat.”

Virginia Woolf often uses free indirect discourse, (though there is direct dialogue here as well in the middle),  in her writing which makes it rather difficult trying to determine whose perspective (as it always seems to be changing), or mind you are really getting a piece of, or if it even might just be the unknown narrator.

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Inc. 1925. Print. pp. 144

Consciousness in Mrs. Dalloway

“Here he was walking across London to say to Clarissa in so many words that the loved her. Which one never does say, he thought. Partly one’s lazy; partly one’s shy. And Clarissa–it was difficult to think of her; except in starts, as at luncheon, when he saw her quite distinctly; their whole life. He stopped at the crossing; and repeated–being simple by nature, and undebauched, because he had tramped, and shot; being pertinacious and dogged, having championed the downtrodden and followed his instincts in the House of Commons; being preserved in his simplicity yet at the same time grown rather speechless, rather stiff–he repeated that it was a miracle he should have married Clarissa; a miracle–his life had been a miracle, he thought; hesitating to cross. But it did make his blood boil to see little creatures of five or six crossing Piccadilly alone.”

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, 1925. Print. 115-116.

In Mrs. Dalloway, the narrator seems to flow freely in and out into each character’s deepest levels of thought. On a deliberate plane, Richard is thinking about his love for Clarissa and his job, but the voice is distinctly not Richard’s (perhaps it sounds like Woolf or Clarissa?). The narrator seems to express Richard’s most innermost thoughts–thoughts even Richard may not be aware of–in describing him as “pertinacious and dogged” and having “championed the downtrodden.” Woolf then immediately switches to a more straightforward example of free indirect discourse when Richard “repeats” that “it was a miracle he should have married Clarissa.” It seems to me Woolf is interested in just recording the influx of sensory details into the mind but she wishes to delve into the subconscious and bring to awareness thoughts that the characters themselves can’t know.

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.