“‘Why aren’t the latrines clean, you rogue of a Bakhe! There is not one fit to go near! I have walked all around! Do you know you are responsible for my piles? I caught the contagion sitting on one of those unclean latrines!'” (9)
What is evident in class distinction from the beginning of the novel is how Bakha’s treatment is evidence of the way social hierachy is met with rigidity: noting how Havildar Charat Singh, the famous hockey player (9) who is addressing Bakha in this quotation, immediately dehumanizes him because he is of a much lower social class. The stratification of groups here is already solidified under the idea that there is a presumed quality of character to go along with the roles; how could Bakha even go about improving his life quality when all the people above him have no qualms with treating him like he deserves his place?
“‘Dat ain’t nothin’. You ain’t seen de bossman go up, is uh? Well all right now. Man, de money’s too good on the muck. It’s liable tuh fair off by tuhmorrer. Ah wouldn’t leave if Ah wuz you.'” (156)
After the move to the Everglades, the onset of the hurricane allows for a wrestling between what it means to be “secure,” as it pertains to financial stability and literal physical safety. Circumstance ends up forcing Tea Cake and Janie make that choice, and it foreshadows and projects the ending sequences of the novel as a result.
“Wind is the cane. Come along. / Cane leaves swaying, rusty with talk, / Scratching choruses above the guinea’s squawk, / Wind is the cane. Come along.” (14, 15, 16)
There is a rich mix of formal elements within the opening prose sections of Cane — “Karintha,” “Becky,” and “Carma” all have 4 line stanzas that are echoed in the beginning and end of each of their stories. One thing that’s crucial to my reading of this book so far is how thematically connected the stories are in regards to the consciousness and arguments over southern black life. Form functions as a loose string tying the stories together then, using unique blends and innovations to interweave exigences behind characters and stories.
“Jewel,” I say. Back running, trunnelled between the two sets of bobbing mule ears, the road vanishes beneath the wagon as though it were a ribbon and the front axle were a spool. “Do you know she is going to die, Jewel?” (39)
“Jewel,” I say, “do you know that Addie Bundren is going to die? Addie Bundren is going to die?” (4)
One thematic commonality I picked up on between Joyce and Faulkner in the early sections of As I Lay Dying is this looming existenialism, or the inevitability of death. These two quotes come very quickly after another, and are spoken by Darl, prodding his younger brother about his mother’s sickness. It’s strange how Darl continues unprompted and unanswered by Jewel, giving the state of things within the family at this time a sense of dread and angst.
It came over him in the long, quiet hours that only with “The Middle Years” had he taken his flight; only on that day, visited by soundless processions, had he recognized his kingdom. (James 615)
There’s a symbolic revelation in this passage in how Dencombe ascribes his identity to his work — through the physical as well as the mental. His literary success is a near complete connection to his idea of self-worth; and how his care for life, and health is dependent on his ideas of success and on his craft.