Author’s Ventriloquism in Untouchable

“The Mahatma didn’t say so, but the legal and sociological basis of caste having been broken down by the British-Indian penal, which recognizes the rights of every man before a court, caste is now mainly governed by profession. When the sweepers change their profession, they will no longer remain Untouchables. And they can do that soon, for the first thing we will do when we accept the machine, will be to introduce the machine which clears dung without anyone having to handle it – the flush system. Then the sweepers can be free from the stigma of untouchability and assume the dignity and status that is their right as useful members of a casteless and classless society” (Anand 137).

Based on what we’ve discussed in class about Anand already– having studied in the UK and finding the social conditions in India to be less than desirable under British rule– it is a reasonable assumption to make that the poet that speaks this ideologically-rich paragraph in the dead-center of page 137 of our assigned editions is a stand-in for Anand himself. First, he is a scholar, and second, he makes a case for accepting new technologies mainly invented by the occupying British. This is a nuanced take on imperialism, and one that doesn’t endorse, but rather calls for people to take what good they can out of an overall oppressive, restrictive system.

Narrator in The Hungry Stones

“Then I came under such a spell that this intangible, inaccessible, unearthly vision appeared to be the only reality in the world and all else a mere dream, (Tagore 11).

This sentence is sandwiched by the narrator’s blurring of what is real and what isn’t. The narrator alludes to his own unreliability through his using the word, ‘spell,’ and filtering his sensory experiences through the verb, ‘appear.’ He furthers the implicit assessment of his dreamlike experience here through juxtaposing what is ‘real’ in actuality and what is ‘real’ to him.

Life Further South

“They’d go out any late afternoon and come back loaded down with game. One night they got a boat and went out hunting alligators. Shining their phosphorescent eyes and shooting them in the dark.” (Hurston, 165)

Janie’s life changed in many ways after she moved further South. Not only was the culture different, but her life required new understandings of the world around her. Chapter fourteen really showcases the ways her and Tea Cake live in the Everglades, and focuses on their ability to live off the land and fend for themselves.

Janie set free?! Not surprising

“So she was free and the judge and everybody up there smiled with her and shook her hand. And the white women cried and stood around her like a protecting wall and the Negroes, with heads hung down, shuffled out and away” (Hurston 188).

In this section, Hurston ensures that the reader understands that anyone who is white is living life in easy mode. Rather than the jury finding her guilty and sentencing her to time in jail, there is a sense of approval in the jury. Janie’s murder of Tea Cake is seen as a triumph, but the jury does not know that Janie is mixed race. But since she appears white, she passes. This realization asks the question of identity. Did Janie identify as white at this moment to not get sent to jail?

Janie and Racial Differences

“And the white women cried and stood around her like a protecting wall and the Negros, with heads hung down, shuffled out and away” (188).

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

Further south Janie travels the division between white and black people is more evident. Previously this issue was not seen before in a unjust way more of a “beauty”way.

division in “Their Eyes”

“But nobody put anything on the seat of Logan’s wagon to make it ride glorious on the way to his house. It was a lonesome place like a stump in the middle of the woods where nobody had ever been. The house was absent of flavor, too. But anyhow Janie went on inside to wait for love to begin.” At the beginning of Chapter 3

I believe this passage further emphasizes the divide between Janie and Logan, and Janie’s actions versus her feelings are also divided. She was quarrelling with herself if she truly loved Logan, and this passage happens right after they got married. Words like ‘nobody,’ ‘lonesome,’ and ‘absent’ all jump out as being these sad, sorrow words, in strict contrast to marriage. These words reflect Janie’s thoughts, yet she’s trying to convince herself that she’ll love Logan, or learn to love him.

The Paradox of Class

“The town had a basketful of feelings good and bad about Joe’s positions and possessions, but none had the temerity to challenge him. They bowed down to him rather, because he was all of these things, and then again he was all of these things because the town bowed down.” (Hurston 50)

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

This passage stood out to me because it demonstrated how the social division between classes in American society is not truly an inherent superiority of one class over another, but rather, an artificial construction used by the upper classes to exploit the lower classes. The town isn’t bowing to Joe because he is actually “better” than them, but because they fear the repercussions of standing against someone who has more material wealth than them–proving how the class system in America is one based on abuse and exploitation. The upper class’ power stems purely from fear and oppression, not from any real difference in the people who inhabit those classes.

The power of nature in ‘Their Eyes were Watching God’

“The wind came back with triple fury, and put out the light for the last time. They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against crude walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God,” (Hurston).

Janie and Tea Cake stay near the lake despite numerous signs of an impending storm. The storm symbolically cuts out the light and therefore their vision, acting as but one manifestation of God’s supreme power. That God was the apparent catalyst to this darkness explains how their eyes watching dark is, by proxy, their eyes watching God.

Linkage in Toomer’s Collection of Short Stories

“He sees Art, curiously. Art is a purple fluid, carbon-charged, that effervesces beside him. He loves art. But is it not queer, this pale purple facsimile of a red-blooded Norwegian friend of his? Perhaps for some reason, white skins are not supposed to live at night.” Cane, p. 99

I found the “Bona and Paul” story to be a contemplation on the validity of multicultural fraternity and solidarity, mostly because (a) it follows a black man named Paul and also features his white friend, a man named Art & (b) on the intermission-esque page that follows the story’s ending says “to Waldo Frank”, a white man who Toomer shared a friendship with. The real-world parallels to these two men in the story seem obvious enough to me, and the constant mingling of different races and cultures throughout the book (whether they be from the perspective of a white woman or a black man) lends credibility to the idea that multiculturalism is what links all of these stories together.

Morality in “The Maltese Falcon”

“Spade send tenderly: ‘You angel! Well, if you get a good break you’ll be out of San Quentin in twenty years and you can come back to me then.’ […] He was pale. He said tenderly: ‘I hope to Christ they don’t hang you, precious, by that sweet neck.'”

Hammett, Dashiell. “XX: If They Hang You.” The Maltese Falcon, Vintage Books, 1972, pp. 114–115.

Despite his personal feelings for Brigid, Spade does the right thing and turns her in for the murder. He’s fighting inside of himself on it, but he knows that it is the moral and right thing to do. In the world of crime, and particularly with all the shady characters he’s interacted with in the novel, Spade is the moral man, and he does what must be done. Particularly, when he is pale and speaking tenderly, he’s showing emotion when he mostly hasn’t throughout the novel. Despite being a fairly stoic man, he is hurt here. But he must do it.

Im/amorality of Spade in The Maltese Falcon

“He stepped back holding it up in front of him and blew dust off it, regarding it triumphantly. Effie Perine made a horrified face and screamed, pointing at his feet. He looked down at his feet. His last backward step had brought his left heel into contact with the dead man’s hand, pinching a quarter-inch of flesh at a side of the palm between the heel and the floor. Spade jerked his foot away from the hand.”

This quote has Spade value the the Maltese Falcon so above any conception of morality that he literally steps on a corpse in distraction. Spade is generally described as callous and serious, and his ‘triumphant’ reaction to the esteemed sculpture juxtaposes his otherwise stoic ethos.

Writing Style In The Maltese Falcon

“His face while he smoked was, except for occasional slight and aimless movements of his lower lip, so still and reflective that it seemed stupid; but when Cairo presently moaned and fluttered his eyelids Spade’s face became bland…” (Hammett 51)

Even a small moment such as someone smoking a cigarette is slowed down and expanded. Hammett is really great at using creative descriptive language to force the reader to slow down and remain present in the moment. By jamming the text full of things such as “slight aimless movements” and “fluttering eyelids” it helps the reader become aware of small details and pay attention to them.

Showing Versus Telling in Hammett

“Mr. Joel Cairo was a small-boned dark man of medium height. His hair was black and smooth and very glossy. His features were Levantine. […] The fragrance of chypre came with him” (Hammett 42).

I cut out the middle of this quote, as the description takes up an entire paragraph, but the whole thing should be read to get an estimation of Hammett’s narrative style, at least when it comes to describing characters. He introduces us to these characters first by illuminating their appearance and going off of their actions with regard to said appearance from there. For example: if someone were to walk into Spade’s office with a hat, a pensive character with something to hide may fidget with the hat before delivering their dialogue, said dialogue being preceded by almost an entire paragraph of detail of the external world (showing), as opposed to outright revealing the character’s thoughts (telling).

conflict between social classes

“Bunter, if I sacked you here and now, would you tell me what you think of me?”

“No, my lord.”

“You’d have a perfect right to, my Bunter, and if I sacked you on top of drinking the kind of coffee you make, I’d deserve everything you could say of me. You’re a demon for coffee, Bunter–I don’t want to know how you do it, because I believe it to be witchcraft, and I don’t want to burn eternally. You can buy your cross-eyed lens.”

“Thank you, my lord.”

Sayers, Dorothy L. Whose Body. Available from: Yuzu, Simon & Schuster, 2015.

(my text is online and for some reason doesn’t have page numbers, but this occurs at the beginning of chapter II)

I chose this passage because I believe it highlights to conflict between different social classes, Peter as a Lord and Bunter as a manservant/butler. Bunter really kisses his ass in this part, basically saying that if he was unjustly fired, he would leave peacefully without saying what he truly thinks of Peter. This is completely separate from the murder mystery, showing the social contradiction of different social classes.

A Contradiction to Society in “The Defendant”

“By dealing with the unsleeping sentinels who guard the outposts of society, it tends to remind us that we live in an armed camp, making war with a chaotic world, and that the criminals, the children of chaos, are nothing but the traitors within our gates” (Chesterton 122).

G.K. Chesterton refers to criminals as “outposts of society,” parallel to outliers, and police as “unsleeping sentinels;” they are soldiers who do not sleep but only guard. He says this serves as a reminder that we reside in a world of turmoil and violence. He refers to criminals as “children of chaos” and “traitors” since they choose violence and betray society by causing disruption. They are, within themselves, contradictions to society and oppositions to limitations and laws. I thought the phrase “traitors within our gates” was interesting because I thought of the gates as a utopia, in a sense.

The Lack Of Women’s Autonomy in As I Lay Dying

“And I just wish your precious Lafe had come for it himself thats what I wish. I don’t know I’d have a little respect for him then. And you can go back and tell him I said so if he ain’t halfway to Texas by now which I don’t doubt.” (Faulkner 179)

This is a prime example of how women in this novel and during this time period have very little control over their own lives if they aren’t married or spoken for by a man. Even when Dewey Dell takes matters into her own hands to get an abortion she is still denied because at the end of the day society believed she shouldn’t be able to make that decision. It also shows how women will never be able to escape the consequences of pregnancy but men easily can and the hypocrisy of an abortion being a mans decision.

The theme of inequality throughout Faulkner’s writing

“Jewel always doing something that made him some money or got him talked about, and that near-naked girl always standing over Addie with a fan so that every time a body tried to talk to her and cheer her up, would answer for her right quick, like she was trying to keep anybody from coming near her at all.” (Faulkner, PDF version, pg. 16)

Throughout Faulkner’s novel, we see the gender inequality relationship between men and women. Specifically, on the roles, women play in society of being a mother or being wed. In this passage alone, we see that the women serve as “eye candy” for the men surrounding them. But we also see a bit of feminism because, during this time (the 1930s), women were staying single and actively advocating for women’s rights.

A Lack of Rights

“Where did you get the ten dollars?”

“Pa. Pa.”

“You won’t tell me. Did you come by it so shameful you dare not?”

“It’s not mine, I tell you. Can’t you understand it’s not mine?”


Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York: Vintage, 1990

In Dewey Dell’s final chapter readers witness Anse questioning how Dewey Dell got this ten dollars. A few things can be pointed out here in relation to women’s inequality to men. The first is the expectation that Dewey Dell cannot in good conscience attain this money because she is a woman, she must have done something shameful in order to have earned it and is therefore ashamed to say how. The second is distrust, even though Dewey Dell is Anse’s daughter and she comes up with a reasonable explanation as to how she earned the ten dollars and how it is not hers personally she is still not believed. It could be argued that this has nothing to do with gender, but I think coupled with my first point it has a lot to do with her gender. Finally, Anse’s ability to take this ten dollars with ease from Dewey Dell because she has no right to her own money as a woman, but also because he is her father and what he says goes.

Theme of limits of vision in “As I Lay Dying”

Anse is narrating a conversation he is having with Peabody and Addie.
“I am not sick,” she said.
“You lay you down and rest you,” I said, “I knowed you are not sick. You’re just tired. You lay you down and rest.”
“She’s a-laying down,” I said. “She’s just a little tired, but she’ll –“
“Get outen here, Anse,” he said. “Got set on the porch for a while.” (Page 44)

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. DIGITAL FIRE, 2020.


After their conversation where Anse leaves, he loses track of their conversation. Because he leaves, we as the reader don’t know what happens inside the house from that point on. It’s only three chapters later, when Peabody is narrating, that we find out that nothing was really said. Addie watched him leave the room, but she hasn’t moved except for her eyes.
When Peabody sends Anse out, we could possibly assume that Peabody just needs space to work and that’s why he sends him out. But the grimness of the situation sets in as we see Peabody’s perspective – as Addie doesn’t even have the strength to move except for her eyes, we know that the context of him sending out Anse is that Addie is going to die.
If we had this story solely from Anse’s eyes, we wouldn’t know.