Untouchable

“The outcastes’ colony was a group of mud-walled houses that clustered together in two rows, under the shadow both of the town and the cantonment, but outside their boundaries and separate from them. There lived the scavengers, the leather-workers, the washermen, the barbers, the water-carriers, the grass cutters and other outcastes from Hindu society . . . altogether the ramparts of human and animal refuse that lay on the outskirts of this little colony, and the ugliness, the squalor and the misery which lay within it, made it an ‘uncongenital’ place to live in.”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. Penguin Books, 2014, p. 3.

Right at the opening of the novel, Anand describes the place where workers live and stresses that their dwellings keep them separate from the town and the cantonment. Also, the place is described as filthy and as an “‘uncongenital’ place to live in.” He also calls the workers “outcastes” and mentions that they form an “outcastes’ colony,” as if they were part of a subhuman group, pointing toward a difference in classes and marginalization of the workers. This paragraph positions the workers as inferior, rendering the labor of the workers as unfruitful since, no matter how much and how hard they work, they are incapable of any social mobility due to existing social barriers.

Their Eyes were Watching God

“Going east and east. That night the palm and banana trees began that long distance talk with rain. Several people took fright and picked up and went in to Palm Beach anyway.”

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2013, p. 155.

Although the hurricane seems more impeding at every minute that passes by, people at the Everglades have chosen to stay in denial rather than facing reality because this would disturb their lives and how they understand the world. Therefore, they are unable to react and be cautious about it. However, nature does not wait for anyone to come around. Still, some people do react and leave, although not everybody (it is said that “several,” not “all” leave). The prudence of those who leave is rendered as “fright;” therefore, it is implied that those who stayed are brave. However, the irony of this fragment is that it shows the foolishness of Janie, Tea Cake, and the many others who stayed.

Their Eyes were Watching God

“‘Listen, mama, soon as Ah git over dis lil cuttin’ scrape, we goin-tuh do somethin’ crazy’

‘What’s dat?’

‘We goin’ on de muck.’

‘Whut’s de muck, and where is it at?’

‘Oh down in the Everglades, round Clewiston and Belle Glade where dey raise all dat cane and string-beans and tomatuhs. Folks don’t do nothin’ down dere but make money and fun and foolishness. We must go dere.'”

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2013, p. 128.

After gambling Janie’s money – and, luckily, not losing it – Tea Cake is hurt by his opponent. So, although they’re already in Jacksonville, Tea Cake decides to move further South, to the Everglades, to try luck there. His reason to move is something “crazy” that entails doing “nothing” but making “‘money,” “fun,” and “foolishness.” That is, it is a summary of the way Tea Cake sees life. Tea Cake is irresponsible, does not take things seriously, and wishes to make “easy money” investing as less effort as possible. Tea Cake paints the Everglades as something close to the promised land and uses this to maintain Janie’s fascination on him.

As I Lay Dying – Perpetuation of Patriarchy

“A woman’s place is with her husband and children, alive or dead”

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. Vintage International, 1985, pp.23.

This statement, voiced by Cora, speaks of the perpetuation of patriarchy not only by men, but also women. In fact, Cora disregards Addie’s individuality and assures that her place is the traditional one, at the beck and call of her family – as if Addie could only exist as an extension of it. And clearly, since Cora says this to her husband, she believes it to be the norm for herself and for all women. So, it is inappropriate for women to harbor an independent thought. Also, by choosing where to be laid to rest, Addie is able to regain some of the agency stolen by years of hard work imposed by Anse. However, Cora’s statement deprives Addie from any form of freedom.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“She was a nice mother but she was not so nice when she cried.”

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Edited by Jeri Johnson, Oxford University Press. Page 7.

It is interesting that the mother loses her “nice” quality as she cries, as if she, as a mother, was not allowed to show weakness in any form. So, when she cries, she is transformed into something despicable, almost pitiful, because she cannot hold Stephen together anymore. “Nice” can then be interpreted as pleasant and endearing, but also as useful. So, when no longer in “use,” she is unable to fulfill the characteristics that define her constituency. This reveals a selfish side of Stephen, but his character should not be oversimplified just yet. In fact, this shows a dichotomic relationship between Stephen and his mother. It shows Stephen’s appreciation for his mother’s tenderness and their reciprocate care. However, it also shows the repellence that steams from the mother’s cry, which annoys Stephen in a mixture of sadness and dysfunctionality, perhaps because he feels sorry for her or because she reminds him of his own weaknesses, or even because she ceases to be useful to him; or all.

The Middle Years

“He liked the feeling of the south, so far as you could have it in the north.”

James, Henry, 1843-1916, and Percy Lubbock. The Middle Years. New York: C. Scribner’s sons, 1917. 609.

Sentence on the opening paragraph, it introduces Dencombe; it provides an overview of what he likes (“he liked the feeling of the south”) and how much – despite his preferences – he is willing to compromise, or not, as a character (“so far you could have it in the north”).