Untouchable

” ‘That man, that man,’ she said, ‘that man made suggestions to me, when I was cleaning the lavatory of his house there. And when I screamed, he came out shouting that he had been defiled.'” (51)

In a book about squalor, the caste system, and struggle, I found the assault of Sohini particularly disturbing. We continuously see the abuse the untouchables face, but this passage highlights the attitude held by society that those on the bottom (of the caste system) are worthless/insignificant, even when serious mistreatment is occurring. This attitude continues to poison both its victims and the oppressors.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

“Nanny’s head and face looked like the standing roots of some old tree that had been torn away by storm. Foundation of power that no longer mattered.” (12)

There seems to be a reoccurring simile that compares trees to people. Its done in the first sentence of chapter 2, and again when Nanny says black folks are like branches without roots. I think the comparison here is especially powerful, because it allows us to feel (on a deep level) how exhausting Nanny’s life really was. And that seems to have an important impact on Janie.

EDIT: The text seems to evolve with Janie and her relationships, as well as her sense of freedom. This is very much a story of slavery, but not in the conventional sense. This is about Janie’s liberation from her husbands, her grandmother, and society’s opinions. It’s about her journey to break away from that, and to find real love, and to live her life on her own terms.

Adding to my commonplace, we also see her relationship with Nanny evolve. As she moves through her first two husbands, her resentment for Nanny grows- it’s as if she blames her for getting her into these terrible marriages for her own “security”. When she meets Tea Cake, we finally see her decide to break away from her old life/Nanny’s ideas about how she should be living (being taken care of by a man with money instead of finding real love plays a large role in this), and this is extremely liberating for Janie.

Bona and Paul

“Suddenly he knew that he was apart from the people around him. Apart from the pain which they had unconsciously caused. Suddenly he knew that people saw, not attractiveness in his dark skin, but difference.” (102)

This passage really stuck out to me, as I think it speaks to the overall theme of a lot of the stories in the book. Here, Paul has a moment where he realizes he’s different from his white peers, and this is reflected on the way he is treated (by Bona, his roommate, etc.). It’s a really powerful way to capture how disorienting racism can be.

The Maltese Falcon

“Tom halted in front of Spade, muttering, “I hope to God you know what you’re doing,” got no response, sighed, and followed the others out.” (81)

Hammet’s interpretation of a detective story seems to be much different than the others we have read. Compared to Holmes and Lord Peter, Sam Spade doesn’t seem to have himself together. He relies solely on his wit to evade the truth, and seems to think everyone else around him is clueless, while never admitting he is too.

Whose Body?

“Mr. Milligan was annoyed at the interruption, but, like many of his nation, if he had a weak point, it was the British aristocracy.” (41)

It is an interesting contrast between Holmes and Lord Peter that one of them has a title. Sayers seems to insert Lord Peter’s status within key points of the text, and it seems to influence his ability to investigate crimes. While there is nothing extraordinary about this sentence in general, it will be interesting to see how Lord Peter’s status will enhance his investigation.

As I Lay Dying part 2

“Because there just aint nothing justifies the deliberate destruction of what a man has built with his own sweat and stored the fruit of his sweat into.” (pg. 238)

This is an interesting observation for Cash to make, and could even speak to a larger theme of the book. Almost all of the characters in the book have to face some sort of destruction, and it can be debated that some characters deserve it and some don’t. Does Darl deserve the fate he got? Should there be some sort of retribution for Anse as he continues to neglect his family? All of these questions fail to be answered but are presented in Cash’s interior monologue.

As I Lay Dying

“My mother is a fish.” (pg. 84)

Vardaman’s fish finally has a real meaning- a representation of grief over his mother’s death. Just as the live fish made the transformation to a “not fish” with “not blood”, Addie’s death comes to resemble this as well.

I found Faulkner’s use of animals to represent the grief over Addie’s death really interesting. Vardaman uses fish, and we also see Darl say Jewel’s mother is a horse. We even see this exchange on page 101, where the brothers are stating what their mother is: a fish, a horse, and a was. Each character seems to deal with their grief separately, but their ideas about it are not that different.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man- Final Post

I will not serve that in which I no longer believe whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use- silence, exile, and cunning” (pg. 208).

The ending of this book has put me at odds. Steven seems to feel hopeful about the future and the prospect of leaving everything behind to make his own introspections and discoveries through writing. However, there is a lot about him that remains unresolved, such as his religious beliefs, his relationships, and his future.
By getting his first person POV in the next section, it seems that Stephen finds comfort in the kind of uncertainty and loneliness that any other person would find scary. This newfound sense of comfort, and the value of art, his own especially, seems to take precedent over everything else in his life; this is his greatest evolution as a character.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“He was different from others. He did not want to play. He wanted to meet in the real world with the unsubstantial image which his soul so constantly beheld (pg. 54)”.

It is obvious that Stephen feels he is different from kids his age, as well as the rest of the world. Even as a narrator, he seems to observe more than he is involved in the scene at points. He seems to be detaching himself from reality and waiting for a moment where he will finally be understood in a higher context. This passage is very telling to the rest of the text, and the angst Steven so often feels.

The Mark on the Wall

“I understand Nature’s game- her prompting to take action as a way of ending any thought that threatens to excite or to pain… Still, there’s no harm in putting a full stop to one’s disagreeable thoughts by looking at a mark on the wall.” (Woolf, 89).

In all honesty, the narrator’s constant tangents of deep thoughts confused me. But I was really interested in the relationship she draws between Nature and the mark on the wall, and what it has to do with such a meaningful train of thoughts. I hope we get to clarify this in class.

The Middle Years

“A second chance- that’s the delusion. There never was to be but one. We work in the dark- we do what we can- we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.” (James, 620).

I think this passage can speak to a lot of different elements of the piece. Dencombe’s final message seems to be that we only get one chance at living, and it’s messy and blind and passionate. But the same could be said about art. In the beginning, he seemed to struggle with the idea that his life was coming to an end, and he talked about wanting an ‘extension’ on life multiple times; but I think he died content with the time he had, and with the art he made.