Difference and Perspective

“But he done showed me where it’s de thought dat makes de difference in ages. If people thinks de same they can make it all right.”

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God (New York: Harper Perennial, 2006), 115.

Division by observable factors (in this case, age) are often not a matter of physical, definite differences but rather by intangible differences in something like perspective. Overcoming these differences is a matter of shifting one’s viewpoint, and is therefore within one’s power. This may be true of age, but what about other, seemingly more rigid categories of division (class, gender, race, etc)?

Darl’s perspectives

Jewel, I say. Overhead the day drives level and gray, hiding the sun by a flight of gray spears. In the rain the mules smoke a little, splashed yellow with mud, the off one clinging in sliding lunges to the side of the road above the ditch. The tilted lumber gleams dull yellow, water-soaked and heavy as lead, tilted at a steep angle into the ditch above the broken wheel; about the shattered spokes and about Jewel’s ankles a runnel of yellow neither water nor earth swirls, curving with the yellow road neither of earth nor water, down the hill dissolving into a streaming mass of dark green neither of earth nor sky.” (Faulkner 52 online text)

In the middle of Darl’s chapter, the perspective completely switches in both syntax and content. It feels as if there’s a total change in the perspective here, and intrigues me as I do not see this level of interiority/ detachment anywhere else we have read so far. It highlights Darl’s absence in the physical reality of his mother’s death. Why was this such a significant change in form?

Darl’s Limited Vision

“Vernon has been to town. I have never seen him go to town in overalls. His wife, they say. She taught school too, once.”

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text Vintage Books, 1990, pg. 11.

Here Darl rather explicitly comments on the limits of his vision. Darl, in saying that Vernon has been to town but that he hasn’t seen him go to town in overalls establishes immediately for the reader that we are bound to the thoughts and vision of Darl here, privy only to what he knows. There are experiences around him that he has no knowledge of, and we as readers must be aware of that throughout.

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.

Mediocrity in the Aftermath of Service

To love makes one solitary, she thought. She could tell nobody, not even Septimus now, and looking back, she saw him sitting in his shabby overcoat alone, on the seat, hunched up, staring. And it was cowardly for a man to say he would kill himself, but Septimus had fought; he was brave; he was not Septimus now (Woolf 33).

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. 1925. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015013962207&view=1up&seq=1&skin=2021

Suffering from the aftermath of the Great War, Septimus has sought refuge from the horrors he has dealt with by retreating into his own mind. Despite coming back a victor, he has been reduced to nothing more than a shell of the man he once was. How does Woolf use Septimus’ POV to relate how the other characters interact with everyday happenings versus how he sees them? Why the criticism and hopelessness? How does his character add onto the experience of others?

A Little Cloud

“As he sat at his desk in the King’s Inns he thought what changes those eight years had brought.”

James Joyce. Dubliners. Grant Richards 1914, 65.

Little Chandler seems to be reminiscing on how his friend use to be and who he has become today. So much has seemed to change within those eight short years.

Forsaking an Idealistic Worldview, a Child’s Angle

Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.

Joyce James. Dubliners. Grant Richards 1914, 41.

The narrator throughout the chapter “Araby” can be seen observing his dull, cyclical surroundings in North Richmond and contrasting it with the promise of a newer/more exotic experience in a bazaar told to him by a girl whom he has a crush on. Here, his realization that both the bazaar and the girl were more idealistic in his mind than what could ever be found in person propelled him to give up whilst garnering self-hatred. From his perspective, adulthood was seen to be as dull as it was disappointing. Each adult, whether it be his teacher, parents, or young lady at the stall, all vexed him in different ways. Could the narrator’s perspective be a one-to-one image of what’s actually happening? Or is this perspective through a biased, childish lens, thus reaffirming the dullness of the world around him?