Tag Archives: Writing style

Darl and first person experience

“Where’s Jewel?” pa says. When I was a boy I first learned how much better water tastes when it has set a while in a cedar bucket. Warmish-cool, with a faint taste like the hot July wind in cedar trees smells…I fling the dipper dregs to the ground and wipe my mouth on my sleeve. It is going to rain before morning. Maybe before dark. “Down to the barn,” I say. “Harnessing the team.”

Faulkner, William. “As I Lay Dying”. New York. The Modern Library Edition. 2000. p.10-11  Print.

Each character narration has a different style in writing. For Darl, the reader follows his flow of thoughts. At this point in the text, his pa had asked him where Jewel was, and within that short pause, the reader experiences what Darl is experiencing. The memories that he recollects and thinks about in what is actually a brief pause between his father’s question and the answer.

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.

Delay and Confusion in “Melanctha”

“Jeff sat there this evening in his chair and was silent a long time, warming himself with the pleasant fire.  He did not look at Melanctha who was watching.  He sat there and just looked into the fire.  At first his dark, open face was smiling, and he was rubbing the back of his black-brown hand over his mouth to help him in his smiling.  Then he was thinking, and he frowned and rubbed his head hard, to help him in his thinking.  Then he smiled again, but now his smiling was not pleasant.  His smile was now wavering on the edge of scorning.  His smile changed more and more, and then he had a look as if he was bitter in his smiling, and he began, without looking from the fire, to talk to Melanctha, who was now very tense with her watching” (80).

This passage demonstrates Stein’s ability to manipulate the way in which readers perceive her narrative.  Rather than just outwardly stating that Jeff transitioned into a bitter mood as he spent that evening with Melanctha, Stein provides details of his changing facial expressions and body language so that readers are learning of his changing mood at the same time that Melanctha is within the story.  This delay adds a sense of confusion to the text and ultimately seems to work with Stein’s writing style.


Stein, Gertrude. “Melanctha.” Three Lives. New York: Dover Publications, 1994. Print.