Tag Archives: narrative

Hurston’s style of narrative

“The cooling palma christi leaves that Janie had bound about her grandma’s head with a white rag had wilted down and become part and parcel of the woman. Her eyes didn’t bore and pierce. They diffused and  melted Janie, the room and the world into one comprehension.

“Janie, youse uh ‘oman, now, so – ”

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God New York: HarperCollins Publishers. 2000. Print. pp. 18

I noticed that Hurston’s style of narrative is split. There is one third-person voice that is highly intellectual with descriptive imagery and metaphors. The other voice is one that is in African American Vernacular English as shown in the dialogue above. I think that this particular style of narrative is important as it actually shows the division of the language on paper. Hurston may want us to realize how important language and how two different styles of narrative can be put together to tell a story.

Supplementing the Narrative

“Watch yourself,” Cash says.
“I’m on it now,” Jewel says. “You can come ahead now.”
Cash takes the reins and lowers the team carefully and skillfully into the
I felt the current take us and I knew we were on the ford by that reason,
since it was only by means of that slipping contact that we could tell that we
were in motion at all. What had once been a -flat surface was now a succession
of troughs and hillocks lifting and falling about us, shoving at us, teasing at
us with light lazy touches in the vain instants of solidity underfoot. Cash
looked back at me, and then I knew that we were gone. But I did not realise the
reason for the rope until I saw the log. It surged up out of the water and
stood for an instant upright upon that surging and heaving desolation like
Christ. Get out and let the current take you down to the bend, Cash said. You
can make it all right. No, I said, I’d get just as wet that way as this
The log appears suddenly between two hills, as if it had rocketed suddenly
from the bottom of the river (147-48).

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

The italicized excerpt from one of Darl’s chapters changes tense in the middle of scene in which the wagon turns over into the water, a scene that is progressing in the story, shifting from present tense narrative with direct-reported discourse, to past tense narrative and indirect discourse, and then back to present tense and direct-reported discourse. This peculiar moment seems as though it was placed into the story a-chronologically in order to supplement the story in a later edition, as though at the time of the experience, Darl could not possibly have comprehended his surroundings enough to fully tell the story, highlighting the problems that can occur when narrative attempts to convey experience.

Where’s Darl?

“Why, Addie,” pa says, “him and Darl went to make one more load,” (41)…
Jewel’s hat droops limp about his neck, channelling water onto the soaked towsack tied about his shoulders as, ankle-deep in the running ditch, he pries with a slipping two-by-four, with a piece of rotting log for fulcrum, at the axle. Jewel, I say, she is dead, Jewel. Addie Bundren is dead (46).

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York: Modern Library, 2000. p.41-46 Print.

Darl gains omniscient properties after Anse notes that Darl isn’t at the house, but out with Jewel. It is peculiar that Darl recounted events he was not present for in a normal narrative style, yet his telling Jewel that Addie was dead was told in italics, as if he wasn’t actually present for that.

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.

Stream of Consciousness and Memories in Mrs. Dalloway

“There was Regent’s Park.  Yes.  As a child he had walked in Regent’s Park–odd, he thought, how the thought of childhood keeps coming back to me–the result of seeing Clarissa, perhaps; for women live much more in the past than we do, he thought.  They attach themselves to places; and their fathers–a woman’s always proud of her father” (55).


Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print.

Virginia Woolf utilizes the stream of consciousness method throughout her work, Mrs. Dalloway, as a means of providing insight into her characters’ thought processes.  As seen through this excerpt, much of the novel focuses on events that occurred to the characters in the past and shaped the way they view their lives and circumstances in the present.