All posts by GS

A Father Investigates

“Swami help up the envelope and said, ‘I will give this to the headmaster as soon as he is back…’ Father snatched it from his hand, tore it up and thrust it into the wastepaper basket under his table. He muttered, ‘Don’t come to me for help even if Samuel throttles you. You deserve your Samuel.’” (72)

Narayan, R.K. “Father’s Help.” Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin Classics, 2006. Print.

The most interesting part about this passage is understanding what Swami truly deserves. When Swami speaks the truth towards Samuel, he receives no punishment. However, when Swami intentionally disobeys Samuel for the sake of getting rid of him, Swami receives strong a beating for it. In addition, his father probably knew that Swami was not stating the whole truth. Father might have suspected that because Swami arrived home with the letter, he was disobeying him. Given that, the only reason why Swami would even think of disobeying his father is if Samuel was not as bad as he was told, which the case was. As a result, Father gets rid of the letter to prevent Samuel from being punished without reason. So, in the end, no matter how Samuel is, Father perceives him as the best teacher for Swami.

Overhead to in Their Head

Heart of Darkness (1899) focused on imperialism and how it affects life in Africa through the perspective of Charles Marlow. In the story, most of the conflict was reflected externally and viewed through a narrator who had strong emotions towards the events but no lacked in focus on how it affected him, psychologically. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) marks a turn as even though everything is in third-person, the narration focuses on Stephen and both his internal and external conflicts as he grows up. This conflict even spills into the third-person narratives on many occasions. The progression that I have noticed is that the focus of the narrative started with a wider picture, where the narrator is not mentally attached to the story. Joyce’s novel marks a turn where character’s thoughts affect the delivery of the narration. This turn leads to novels like As I Lay Dying (1930) and Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937.) Both stories matter entirely because of the narrator. Faulkner’s novel is delivered with the focus on individual characters and how their thoughts directly affect their narrative. Hurston, on the other hand, still had a third-person perspective, for the most part, but the story was still Janie’s. Every emotion that she felt, whether conflicting or not, is there to be heard. As time progresses, the stories go from character driven to being the characters.

Nature Begins the Story

She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation. (Hurston 11)

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006. Print.

This passage marks the beginning of Janie’s passage into womanhood. Before she kisses Johnny Taylor, Janie has a “revelation” that marriage is much like nature, in the way that everything fits together in a “love embrace.” There is a sense of happiness coming from the way that the sun and the breeze speak to her in a way that teaches her about a human system such as marriage. What makes this very important is that it establishes her naivety very immediately before throwing her into a forced marriage. Given we are already given a foreshadow that her relationships do not work out, it is possible that her original view of marriage is the best one in that it is natural, as compared to the relationships she ends up paired with.

Sohini’s Structured Emotions

“Sohini was a bit frightened at first and grew pale, but she kept intensely still and avoiding the shock, subsided into a listless apathy. As she looked away, however, and cast her eyes to the blue heavens overhead, she felt a sort of dreariness, a pain, which, though she accepted it resignedly, brought a hurtfulness with it. Sad and wistful, she heaved a soft sigh and felt something in her heart asking for mercy. The sun overhead shot down bright arrows of heat, and inspired a feeling of the passing of time, a feeling that made her forget the unsolicited quarrel with Gulabo, but cast over her the miserable, soul-harrowing shadow of the vision of her brother waiting for her at home, thirst after the morning’s toil, dying for a cup of tea. And yet no caste Hindu seemed to be near.”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Group, 2014. 26. Print.

Like Faulkner rarely talking about the river as a river, Anand stretches the painful experience of frustration and guilt. It is interesting how that “apathy” is simply expressed in word while the true suffering is analyzed further. Sohini stays still and waits as the sun and the sky are moving, telling her that time is moving and nothing is getting done. Instead of impatience, a feeling that comes across as selfish, guilt takes its place and defines Sohini for what she is and what she will accept.

He Could Not Help It, for this is who he is.

“Because I said will I or wont I when the sack was half full because I said if the sack is full when we get to the woods it wont be me. I said if it dont mean for me to do it the sack will not be full and I will turn up the next row but if the sack is full, I cannot help it. It will be that I had to do it all the time and I cannot help it. And we picked on toward the secret shade and our eyes would drown together touching on his hands and I didn’t say anything. I said “What are you doing?” and he said “I am picking into your sack.” And so it was full when we came to the end of the row and I could not help it. And so it was because I could not help it.” (23 – 24)

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

Faulkner uses a very familiar form of repetition that we have been seeing in works by Stein, but in this case, the perspective is first person and causes this tool to be used very differently. Dewey Dell repeats over and over that he “could not help it” when talking about the condition of the sack being full. In doing so, it comes off as committing it into understanding or taking into perception an idea that may or may not be true. Once again, we see a stream of consciousness and while the stream was outwardly present in Mrs. Dalloway, Dewey Dell, like the rest, have a stream that is entirely inward. Dewey Dell is not talking to anyone but himself and is doing his very best to comprehend the situation in a way that he could. He goes from claiming that the full sack could not be helped and then reverts that claim by stating that the sack is full because he could not help it. This could possibly lead to an understanding on what he can or cannot control, or understand, and how it affects his daily life in the simplest of ways.

Everyone is Looking, Too

“What are they looking at?” said Clarissa Dalloway to the maid who opened her door.”

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, 1925. Print. p.29

In the entirety of the previous pages, we are shown the dozens of people who look, whether it is the motorcar, Septimus and his wife, or the plane making letters that no one can agree upon. This statement from Clarissa, as a result, comes off rather curious because it implies that she might not be completely acknowledging how much she, herself, looks and pays attention to different events. Another way of viewing this is that there are many small events happening, but she is not consciously paying attention to them. It is as if she is moving thoughts around in her own mind and then suddenly realizes that other people are looking around, too.

No Judgment

He pulled back the blanket from the Indian’s head. His hand came away wet. He mounted on the edge of the lower bunk with the lamp in one hand and looked in. The Indian lay with his face towards the wall. His throat had been cut from ear to ear. The blood had flowed down into a pool where his body sagged the bunk. His hand rested on his left arm. The open razor lay, edge up, in the blankets.

Hemingway, Ernest. “Indian Camp.” In Our Time. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 2003. 18. Print.

Hemingway, throughout his stories, has a style where almost every single line is written without emotion or judgment of the situation that is occurring. In this passage, a suicide is described, but we are never given an expression of horror, or any expression at all. Perhaps the idea is to simply accept what is being described or to feel the horror without the assistance of any character depicting it for us.

A Detective’s Self-Awareness

“Sugg’s a beautiful braying ass,” said Lord Peter. “He’s like a detective in a novel” (Sayers 13)

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

Within a small set of lines, we are given a self-aware and nearly parodic atmosphere to the novel, in which Lord Peters is acting as a detective within a detective novel claiming that someone else is a detective in a novel. This was also present when Sherlock Holmes was mentioned, in the first chapter. This gives the impression that the story is not about someone who happens to be interested in being a detective. Instead, Lord Peters is inspired, as Sayers most likely was, by detective novels and they were what encouraged him to go solve these mysteries, even though he has no occupational connection with the authorities. The fact that he is not aware that he is, in fact, a detective in a novel adds to the humor of the passage.

Everyone’s Darkness

My first interview with the manager was curious. He did not ask me to sit down after my twenty-mile walk that morning. He was commonplace in complexion, in feature, in manners, and in voice. He was of middle size and of ordinary build. His eyes, of the usual blue, were perhaps remarkably cold, and he certainly could make his glance fall on one as trenchant and heavy as an axe. But even at these times the rest of his person seemed to disclaim the intention. Otherwise there was only an indefinable, faint expression of his lips, something stealthy – a smile – not a smile – I remember it, but I can’t explain.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness and Other Tales. “Heart of Darkness”, 123. Oxford: Oxford NY, 2002.

Throughout Heart of Darkness, there is a sense of dread and hostility throughout Marlow’s interactions with the natives and the native landscape. However, this passage jumps away from the harsh conditions and describes the manager talking with Marlow. Even here we see the same harshness expressed within a man’s complexion, defining that the dangers and hostility projected does not stop with the people who live near the river but also by the people who have journeyed there. This could imply the overall idea of the novella that darkness comes not from the native land, but of the interactions between the natives and the colonizers.

New Influences lead to Modernity

I was fully convinced that, with the Golden Age…Spanish poetry has entered into decadence…Everything became rigid…And then we have the eighteenth century, the nineteenth century, both of them very poor…And then Ruben Dario came along and made everything new again. The renewal began in America and then came to Spain and inspired great poets such as the Machados and Juan Ramon Jimeniz, to cite only [three]; but undoubtedly there were others…[Dario] was certainly the first of there renovators…[u]nder the influence, of course, of Edgar Allen Poe. What a curious thing – Poe was an American: he was born in Boston and died in Baltimore; but he came to our poetry because Baudelaire translated him…So [the] influence [exerted by all these poets] was French in a way.

Casanova, Pascale. “The World Republic of Letters”. transl. M. B. Devoise. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1999. pp. 97.

This passage from Jorge Luis Borges best sums up what this section, by Casanova, is leading up to. The most important aspect of modern literature comes from the break of tradition and culture by allowing influences from authors of different nations. In this case, the idea of an American author that had barely any interaction with Spanish literature can now be a great influence because it can be translated between languages and culture. Thus, the more current Spanish literature can evolve to not only include the influences of their heritage, but also the voices and stories of others.