“Her soul is like a little thrust-tailed dog that follow her, whimpering… But each night when he comes home and closes the big outside storm door, the little dog is left in the vestibule, filled with chills till morning.”
Jean Toomer, Cane, Liveright Publishing, 1923 New York. Page 40.
The repetition of these and a couple other accompanying sentences in the final paragraph represents to me a tale of 24 hours in the life of a prostitute. The first paragraph is night, the second daytime, and third night again. During the night time, she sends her soul outside while she commits her sinful acts. Even so, she is not a wicked person, evident by the line “she is large enough, I know, to find a warm spot for it.” Her soul is being warmed and kept company by the forgiveness of her morality during the day time, when she is well aware of her soul and is actively practices good deeds (“the little dog keeps coming.”)
“When lovers embrace, there seems no sound in the world but their own breathing. So the two men breathed face to face.”
Sayers, Dorothy, L. “Whose Body” Dover Publications, INC. Mineola, New York 2009. Page 122
Sayers draws a parallel between the connection shared by lovers and the connection shared by detective and criminal. In both cases, the two parties have an intimate understanding of the inner workings of one another and are connected by an emotional connection that needs no words. A subtext may exist where one person is dominant and the other submissive. For Freke and Lord Peter, this moment is not only the admission of “love” between the two (as Freke is now certain he is found out and vice versa), but it is also a silent battleground for dominance.
“It is light, yet they move slowly; empty, yet they carry it carefully; lifeless, yet they move with hushed precautionary words to one another, speaking of it as though, complete, it now slumbered lightly alive, waiting to come awake.”
Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text. Vintage International, 1990, pp.79-80
Quite literally, this is the final nail in the coffin for the matriarch of the Bundren’s household. The emotional weight of the coffin, and the sense of dread it imposes on its pallbearers, far outweighs any amount of pounds their mother will add to the casket. The paradox of a coffin being “lightly alive” and “waiting to come awake” is fascinating. Here the humans are acting lifeless, yet the object they hold gains energy and active presence.
“It was dark and silent and his eyes were weak and tired with tears so that he could not see. But he thought they were the portraits of the saints and great men of the order who were looking down on him silently as he passed: saint Ignatius Loyola holding an open book and pointing to the words AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM in it; saint Francis Xavier pointing to his chest; Lorenzo Ricci with his berretta on his head like one of the prefects of the lines, the three patrons of holy youth—saint Stanislaus Kostka, saint Aloysius Gonzago, and Blessed John Berchmans, all with young faces because they died when they were young, and Father Peter Kenny sitting in a chair wrapped in a big cloak.”
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young man, ed. Jeri Johnson (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000), 46
Passage seems to be where the namesake of the book comes from, as Stephen describes portraits of prefects and saints as young men. Besides this, Stephen’s internal struggle against tattling on Father Dolan demonstrates how youths conflate power and authority. Father Dolan, to Stephen, is equal in stature to that of the Saints and the holy youth, and to accuse him of anything other than righteousness would be to condemn the builders of the Christianity as well. Although Father Dolan is just another man, his position imbues him with the same infallibility as the historical memory of well respected people of God. Much like how Stephen cannot literally see in front of him because of his broken glasses, Stephen also cannot see this fact about his teacher because his schooling has given him a cracked lens of religious understanding.
“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.” – Dencombe 620
One of Dencombe’s last coherent thoughts. Waxes poetic on his life’s works in intervals signaled by dashes. Conflicted, thoughts all mangled together in disagreement, until he reaches the apex of his postulating. What drove him to success was not his own confidence, but rather the ever lingering sense of impending failure that plagued his mind since the start of “The Middle Years.” This is the thesis of the whole story. We create our own problems, aging and the loss of a “first chance” in Dencombe’s case, to drive ourselves to create.