Bad Luck

“Putting it where every bad luck prowling can find it and come straight to my door, charging me taxes on top of it. making me pay for Cash having to get them carpenter notions when if it hadn’t been no road come there, he wouldn’t a got them; falling off of churches and lifting no hand in six months and me and Addie slaving and a-slaving, when there’s plenty of sawing on this place he could do if he’s got to saw.”

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text Vintage Books, 1990, pg. 36.

This quote comes from the perspective of Anse. The it he’s referring to is his home, and he laments living so near the road, reflecting on it as the force that brings all the bad luck to his family, and takes his family away from him. What’s so interesting is that Anse internalizes this perspective of things happening for a reason and the idea that he must accept them as they come, but then he also becomes very frustrated with these happenstances and looks for something to blame them all on. In his own limited individual vision, he is unable to see his hypocrisy.

The One Who Left and Returned

“Gabriel took his seat boldly at the head of the table and, having looked to the edge of the carver, plunged his fork firmly into the goose. He felt quite at ease now for he was an expert carver and liked nothing better than to find himself at the head of a well-laden table”

“Dubliners.” The Project Gutenberg EBook of Dubliners, by James Joyce,

This interaction is significant in that it’s the first time we see Gabriel appear self-assured in this short story. Without being told explicitly, it appears Gabriel moved away from Ireland, and has assimilated more or less to an English lifestyle. He’s well aware of how different he is from his ‘home,’ and consistently struggles to find his footing in interacting with the partygoers. This moment of carving the goose appears to be one aspect of his upbringing that he has been able to retain, it’s a skill that allows Gabriel to touch base with his culture, and in this moment, he isn’t a fish out of water. In a social sense, culture is what brings together and alienates these individuals, and it is most apparent with Gabriel’s experience as the one who left and has returned.

“The Middle Years” Commonplace – LM

“‘Why, it has come to pass–it has come to pass! The second chance has been the public’s–the chance to find the point of view, to pick up the pearl!”

“‘Oh, the pearl!’ Dencombe uneasily sighed. A smile as cold as a winter sunset flickered on his drawn lips as he added: ‘The pearl is the unwritten–the pearl is the unalloyed, the rest, the lost!'”

Henry James, “The Middle Years.” Henry James: Complete Stories 1892-1898, ed. John Hollander and David Bromwich (New York: The Library of America, 1996), 353.

I really enjoyed this interaction between Doctor Hugh and Dencombe. The first spoken dialogue comes from Doctor Hugh, who argues that the second chance Dencombe yearns for exists within his work. It’s the reader who discovers the beauty in his work. Dencombe, however, feels that because he never wrote the story in his exact perfect vision, it can never truly be discovered. It’s an interesting conversation between an artist and his audience. It calls to mind the relationship artists have with their work, and how future generations come to appreciate the works that do exist.