Class Integrity?

“He shivered as he turned on his side. But he didn’t mind the cold very much, suffering it willingly because he could sacrifice a good many comforts for the sake of what he called ‘fashion’, by which he understood the art of wearing trousers, breeches, coat, puttee, boots, etc., as worn by the British and Indian soldiers in India.” (10)


Class is not a simple concept here. For Bakha, he is interested in the appearance of upper-class costume. While his personal living conditions are uncomfortable, he finds solace in the embracing of clothing and the acquisition of things that reflect not only a Western sensibility, but a lavish Indian lifestyle. The quote also shows the two, British fashion and the fashion of the Indian soldiers, are very similar but not identical.



Form in Jean Toomer’s “Cane”

“Her skin is like dusk on the eastern horizon,

O cant you see it, O cant you see it,

Her skin is like dusk on the eastern horizon

. . . When the sun goes down.”

The novel shifts between standard prose and lyric or poetry. We see that the novel undertakes the very difficult task of discussing topics that are rather daunting, such as race relations and sexual predation, which are reflected in the novel’s changing forms. The difficulty of discussing the sexual impropriety for the speaker is reflected in the form of the novel, such that one must fall into poetry in order to even conceptualize something so horrible. Also, poetry allows for the invocation of the imagination. The poetic form allows for the envisioning of the landscape- such as Karintha’s skin being likened to “dusk on the eastern horizon”. It creates a safety net before the revelation of trauma.


Jean Toomer, Cane, Liveright Publishing, 1923 New York. Page 4.


“As I Lay Dying” by William Faulkner

“…even the eggs wouldn’t be costing anything…wood would not be costing anything…” (7)

“Although I am fifteen feet ahead of him…Jewel, fifteen feet behind me…” (3-4)

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. Vintage Books, 1985. 3-4,7.

The structure of Faulkner’s novel appears to parallel Joyce’s in the sense that both novels prioritize description. While Joyce’s novel invokes the senses in a major way to make apparent to the reader what he wishes to describe, Faulkner’s novel does it by way of repetition. The narrator repeats phrases that often modify the scene, as though the speaker themself relies on this repetition to remember and process the events at hand, and in turn, we as readers remember select phrases and find them to be of importance as well. Such as, we begin to envision the spatial difference between Jewel and Dark, through this repetition of the phrase “fifteen feet ahead/behind”.

The Portrait of the Artist

“It pained him that he did not know well what politics meant and that he did not know where the universe ended.”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young man, ed. Jeri Johnson (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000), 16.

This sentence functions in a couple ways. Interestingly enough, it equates his ignorance of politics as an entity and its literal denotive meaning. Additionally, it equates his lack of knowledge in this respect to his lack of knowledge in something as grand as the limits of the universe. In this sense, it shows the speaker’s crisis on both the social level of interacting with potentially rowdy boys at university and the greater question of who am I? 

#existentialism #bullying #confusion #bigbullies #whatarepolitics #seriously

Temporality in “The Middle Years”

“This was the pang that had been sharpest during the last few years– the sense of ebbing time, of shrinking opportunity; and now he felt not so much that his last chance was going as that it was gone indeed.”

James, Henry, 1843-1916, and Percy Lubbock. The Middle Years. New York: C. Scribner’s sons, 1917, 610.


This quote summarizes much of the essence of the greater portion of the beginning of the reading. The protagonist engages in this daunting race against time. The protagonist is concerned with the quality and appeal of his work, which he feels as though has declined over time. He is concerned with aging, which appears to contribute to the depreciation in value (both of the individual, and thus, the work they produce). He is wistful, because he is cognizant of time and the way in which she does not yield or delay for any single individual or predicament. The narrative often describes the narrator as sighing, or moaning- overall despondent because he is essentially losing in his race against time. Thus, as time progresses his opportunity is described as “shrinking”. It is almost a dangerous air of nostalgia that the protagonist is trapped within.