“He uttered a low moan as he breathed the chill of this dark void, so desperately it seemed to represent the completion of a sinister process. The tears filled his mild eyes; something precious had passed away.”
James, Henry. “The Middle Years”. Henry James: Complete Stories: 1829-1898, ed. John Hollander and David Bromwich, The Library of America, 1996, 337
I find the sense of tragic acceptance of this passage particularly interesting because of the way Dencombe’s grieving actions correlate with the closure he is so desperately seeking and the way that the process is described by the narrator as “sinister.” The syntax of the passage reveals his emotions by initially stating how he “uttered a low moan,” almost a sorrowful sigh, and that this represents the acceptance of this loss, more so how desperate he is to have closure. It then escalates to tears when further realization reaches him. Observing Dencombe, we too, experience this deep whirlpool and rush of emotions and in a sense, grieve with him. We are able to also observe this inner battle he is experiencing. This passage is multifaceted in a sense that emotions such as desperation and acceptance are co-existing but are almost at battle with one another.