The Narrator’s Relationship with Ratan

“The master said : ‘ You need not be anxious about my going away, Ratan ; I shall tell my successor to look after you.’ … Ratan had borne many a scolding from her master without complaint, but these kind words she could not bear. She burst out weeping, and said : ‘No, no, you need not tell anybody anything at all about me ; I don’t want to stay on here.'”

Tagor, Rabindranath. “The Postmaster.” Macmillan and Co., 1918, pp. 167.

In one of the final scenes between Ratan and the postmaster, the difference in how Ratan views him versus how he values her is highlighted, as she weeps at the most simple statement he could possibly say, while he says what he sees as just enough to comfort her. The postmaster frames it as she is just anxious about him leaving, but in reality Ratan holds a close emotional bond with him through the memories that they’ve shared and the time they spent together, time that she doesn’t want to spend with another replacement person, while the postmaster sees his presence as something that can be replaced. Ratan fell into the emotions of seeing their relationship as more permanent, but the postmaster saw it as temporary – for what it was.

The Social Context of Janie

“Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then act and do things accordingly.”

Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston, Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006, pp. 1.

To begin the book, this statement sets the state of the woman, painting the tragedies their lives have by what they choose to remember and what they choose to forget, as if they might not have autonomy over what happens to them but at least have the ability of control over their own thoughts and perceptions. “The dream is the truth” is insinuating that reality is less than desirable, so to manifest one’s wants and to try to act accordingly is a radical but beneficial mindset to have, one which Janie embodies throughout the novel through her independent attitude in the face of pain.

Samuel Spade’s Moral Code

“‘I don’t mind a reasonable amount of trouble,’ he said with no too much complacence.”

Hammett, Dashiell. “The Maltese Falcon” Vintage Books, 1930, pp. 55.

This line, uttered by Sam Spade to Brigid O’Shaughnessy, is a good representation of Spade’s mode of detective conduct, as he is willing to be in compromising situations to get information, but only to an extent as they still need to be beneficial to him and provide him with some sort of way to exit. Defining the trouble as “reasonable” allows Spade to justify what he believes is a correct action as long as he determines it to be “reasonable” – serving some sort of purpose for him.

Class Distinctions in Faulkner’s South

“He said the wagon was stopped in front of Grummet’s hardware store, with the ladies all scattering up and down the street with handkerchiefs to their noses, and a crowd of hard-nosed men and boys standing around the wagon, listening to the marshal arguing with the man.”

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. Vintage International, 1985, pp.203.

In this scene Anse, Dewey Dell, Cash, Darl, Jewel, and Vardaman were still en route to Jefferson with the body now over five days old in the back of their wagon as they pull into a town along the way. Here they are clearly contrasted with the people of this Mississippi town, because as it is still a simple rural town with a few key spots like the drug store and the hardware store, Anse’s family is seen as significantly more “country” and less refined than the townspeople.  This shows how even in the rural South, Faulkner still depicts a class distinction that is felt between the more impoverished “country folk” and the town dwellers with greater access to resources.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life! A wild angel had appeared to him, the angel of mortal youth and beauty, an envoy from the fair courts of life, to throw open before him in an instant of ecstasy the gates of all the ways of error and glory.”

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce and Jeri Johnson, Oxford University Press, 2008, pp. 145

Here Stephen, from a dream, has come to the realization that becoming a part of the ministry as a priest is not the right path for him, as he is to find inspiration in the world around him – not in such a black and white sense, but as every moment bringing about its own glory from its truth. “To recreate life out of life” is what an artist does, to take visuals and words and sounds, all things we hear and see every day, and to spring meaning into them, to show their duality to the world, and in turn, display the duality of the world itself.

Monday or Tuesday

“Red is the dome; coins hang on the trees; smoke trails from the chimneys; bark, shout, cry ‘Iron for sale’ – and truth?”

Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941. “Monday or Tuesday.” Monday or Tuesday, Hogarth Press, 1921, pp 36.

This short piece, initially starting out from what seemed as the perspective of a heron flying by told through a 3rd person narration, here takes a turn of uncertainty as the writing describes the scene going on in a town/city, the life of the people there, and the sights that are seen. Using specific visual details such as the dome being red, and the everyday proclamations heard while going by, the vibrancy of the world is brought to life, and in turn a puzzled admiration for the world is expressed with the statement of “truth?” as in all the observation, the end goal is to find the meaning out of everyday life instead of seeing it as just simply mundane happenings, not just as another Monday or Tuesday.

The Middle Years

“To these things the young man with the book was still more clearly indifferent; lingering, credulous, absorbed, he was an object of envy to an observer from whose connection with literature all such artlessness had faded.”

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

Dencombe watches the behaviors of the people enjoying their day at the beach, focusing in on a man simply reading a book not at all caring about or interacting with the outside world around him. Describing him as an “object of envy” Dencombe demonstrates his jealousy for the frivolity of youth and the ability to relax and take moments outside of one’s own mind, in contrast to his own constantly analyzing thoughts, searching for meaning in the details of observation and existence.