Tag Archives: power

Power, Language, and Identity

There is no question that Their Eyes is spearheaded by dialogue. Hurston takes advantage of the familiar southern dialect and guides the novel accordingly.  Jody’s need for dominance over Janie is apparent through his actions, especially during the mayoral speech.

“The burst of applause was cut short by Joe taking the floor himself.

‘Thank yuh fuh yo’ compliments, but mah wife dont know nothin’ ’bout no speech-makin’. Ah never married her for nothin’ lak dat.  She’s uh woman and her place is in de home'” (43).

The contrasting identities of Janie and Jody regarding independence result in a power conflict observed by the town.

“‘Maybe he make her do it.  Maybe he skeered some de rest of us mens might touch it round dat store.  It sho is uh hidden mystery tuh me.’

‘She sho don’t talk much.  De way he rears and pitches in de store sometimes when she make uh mistake is sort of ungodly, but she don’t seem to mind at all.  Reckon dey understand one ‘nother'” (50).

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013.

Posh, Posh

“Posh, posh, sweeper coming!”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. London: Penguin 1935.

Bakha’s repeated phrase, his warning call, gives him a strange power to part a crowd of people with, like Moses parting the red sea. Being “untouchable” gives him undesirable powers like parting a sea of people due to disgust. Despite this, Bakha still seems to show an inspiring love of life.

Power of Relationships in Melanctha

“But Melanctha Herbert was ready now herself to do teaching.  Melanctha could could do anything now that she wanted.  Melanctha knew now what everybody wanted.”

I like this paragraph because it so concisely conveys what it’s like to feel knowledgeable and powerful.  It also demonstrates something that is a recurring theme in the story, the power of relationships to change a person and to help them develop.

Stein, Gertrude. “Melanctha.” Three lives. Dover Publications, New York. 1994. 61. Print.

Mr Kurtz is Breaking Bad

“‘You can’t judge Mr Kurtz as you would an ordinary man. No, no, no! Now–just to give you an idea–I don’t mind telling you, he wanted to shoot me too one day–but I don’t judge him’ […] He declared he would shoot me unless I gave him the ivory and then cleared out of the country, because he could do so, and he had a fancy for it, and there was nothing on earth to prevent him from killing whom he jolly well pleased” (162-3)

The Russian man’s description of Mr Kurtz reminds me of the character Tuco from Breaking Bad Season 2 (Tuco is a powerful drug lord that is seemingly insane. His friend/business associate “dissed” him, so Tuco beat him to death with his bare hands).  Like Mr Kurtz, Tuco is not an ordinary man and does not have the rational of an ordinary man. Both characters use power, intimidation and murder to get the products they desire. Conducting business with Tuco and Mr Kurtz is so dangerous that even their “friends” lives are at risk. This passages suggest that ivory is not the only thing Mr Kurtz fancies, he also fancies power.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness and Other Tales. “Heart of Darkness”, 162-3. Oxford: Oxford NY, 2002.