The Distrustful Narrator

“As we got into a second-class carriage, we had no chance of findingout who the man was nor what was the end of his story. I said : ‘ The man evidently took us for fools and imposed upon us out of fun.'” (Tagore 24-25)

Tagore, Rabindranath, 1861-1941, and C. F. (Charles Freer) Andrews. The Hungry Stones: And Other Stories. New York: The Macmillan company, 1916.

I found it interesting that the narrator points out how the man enters the first class carriage, in comparison to the narrator who enters the second-class carriage. I wonder the man’s connection to the upper class and English feeds into the narrator’s distrust of the man and his story and whether it was fiction or not.


Class Divisions and Shame

“Befo’ us got married Ah made up mah mind not tuh let you see no commonness in me. When Ah git mad habits on, Ah’d go off and keep it out yo’ sight. ‘Tain’t mah notion tuh drag you dwon wid me.” (Hurston 124)

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2013.

Even between Tea Cake and Janie, we see divisions, specifically rooted in class. I was surprised in this moment because I did not expect shame and self-consciousness to be the motive of Tea Cakes actions. Whereas he appears to encourage Janie’s freedom, such as by teaching her chess, there is still is a sense of tension within their relationship. Like the previous men, Tea Cake also has a fragile sense of pride. Yet, his insecurity comes from his working class experiences and lack of wealth. I feel like this tension will only grow into deeper conflict between him and Janie.

Honor and Morality, or Just another Facade?

“‘When a man’s partner is killed he’s supposed to do something about it. It doesn’t make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you’re supposed to do something about it. Then it happens we were in the detective business. Well, when one of your organization gets killed it’s bad business to get the killer get away with it.'” (Hammett 213-214)

Hammett, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon. Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 1992.

I am very confused. Spade attempts to explain his motive to Brigid for turning her in. There have been many instances prior that support that Spade took on this case for his own entertainment, but if this was purely the motive, why does he try to rationalize his actions to Brigid? Also, his rationale circles back to Miles. Despite his prior nonchalance, it seems like Spade is using Miles’ death to support his honor as a man. It’s “moral” to avenge one’s partner. Also through his word choice, “supposed”, it shows how he doesn’t completely buy into this idea of honor/morality, yet he still does it. Also in the next part he talks about the detective business and he brings up this idea of morality/expected actions to help other people, but he never says how he truly feels about these expectations. I feel like attempting to read Spade is like playing mind games; you just never clearly know.

Mystery and Anti-Semitism in the 1920s

“Christine Ford, she was then, and I remember so well the dreadful trouble there was about her marrying a Jew. That was before he made his money, of course, in that oil business out in America” (Sayers 27).

Sayers, Dorothy L. Whose Body? Dover Publications, 2009.

There is a lot of attention to being Jewish, as evidenced through this quote, and also the term “Semite” was used before. Here, the Duchess highlights the discrimination and negative attitude towards Sir Reuben just because he is Jewish. Even the Duchess shows some pre-conceptions and prejudice, indicating a broader social issue of anti-Semitism in the 1920s. I wonder if Sir Reuben’s religion played a role in the motive of the person responsible for his disappearance.

Limits of Vision Tied with Visual Clarity?

“You could could so much for me if you just would. If you knew. I am I and you are you and I know it and you dont know it and you could do so much for me if you just would and if you just would then I could tell you then nobody would have to know it except you and me and Darl.” (Faulkner 51)

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text Vintage Books, 1990.

This passage was from Darl’s perspective. I interpreted it to be that he is imagining Dewey’s future actions of silently pleading to Mr. Peabody to help her get an abortion. Sure enough, when it comes to Dewey’s perspective on page 54, she thinks the same exact first line that Darl imagines her to think. This shows that Darl is quite emotionally in tune with his sister and that they have an unspoken understanding. It’s almost like the telepathy we talked about in Mrs. Dalloway. However, this passage also shows that Darl spends a lot of his time in his head imagining future or past scenarios, or just pondering about life and death. With this, I wonder how much his vision is limited and how much he misses in the present if he spends so much time in his head.

Separation of Literature and Politics— Is that even possible?

“He wanted to say that literature was above politics. But they were friends of many years’ standing and their careers had been parallel, first at the University and then as teachers: he could not risk a grandiose phrase with her. He continued blinking his eyes and trying to smile and murmured lamely that he saw nothing political in writing reviews of books” (Joyce 148). 

Joyce, James, and Jeri Johnson. Dubliners (Oxford World’s Classics). Annotated, Oxford UP, 2008.

I feel as though Joyce is critiquing Gabriel’s claim of how he is able to separate his work/writing from politics. Gabriel’s stance may have stemmed from the political turmoil in Ireland during that time, and thus leading to the culture of silence or avoidance of such difficult topics. Since Joyce is known for realism and “scrupulous meanness”, I think he would have disagreed with this attitude, as the ugliness of politics is tied in with every day life. I think for him, “literature was above politics” would not be real literature. He also emphasizes Gabriel’s own uncertainty and insecurity about his claim with words such as “murmured lamely”.

“The Middle Years” Common Place

Doctor Hugh was an ardent physiologist, saturated with the spirit of the age–in other words he had just taken his degree; but he was independent and various, he talked like a man who would have preferred to love literature best.

Henry James, “The Middle Years.” Henry James: Complete Stories 1892-1898, ed. John Hollander and David Bromwich (New York: The Library of America, 1996), 342.

Interesting word choice “saturated with the spirit of age”, age is not usually associated with spirit/liveliness. Clarification in next part of sentence conveys he is young, “just taken his degree”. Long sentence, with dash and semicolon, all explaining Doctor Hugh’s character. “Preferred to love literature best” interesting and confusing characterization– enthusiasm and wistfulness? He likes the idea of literature more than he actually likes literature?