“So the traveller, borne on the breast of the swift-flowing river, consoled himself with philosophical reflections on the numberless meetings and partings going on in the world – on death, the great parting, from which none returns.
But Ratan had no philosophy.”
Tagore, Rabindranath. The Postmaster. Macmillan, 1918, page 169
Both, Ratan and the postmaster, have different perspectives on their separation. While the learned postmaster justifies his leaving Ratan through a tragic philosophy on life, one where death and parting are inevitabilities of life experienced by all, the uneducated Ratan continues to believe in the possibility, no matter how small, that the postmaster might return some day. At the end of the day, no matter how profound or simple each character’s self-consolations might be, they both desperately try to move on with their lonely lives, giving up the strong connection that they had felt in each other’s company.
“What she doin coming back here in dem overhalls? Can’t she find no dress to put on? – Where’s dat blue satin dress she left here in? – Where all dat money her husband took and died and left her? – What dat ole forty year ole ‘oman doin’ wid her hair swingin’ down her back lak some young gal? – Where she left dat young lad of a boy she went off here wid? – Thought she was going to marry? – Where he left her? – What he done wid all her money? – Betcha he off wid some gal so young she ain’t even got no hairs – Why she don’t stay in her class?”
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006, page 2.
The Eatonville residents are clearly jealous of Janie and so they point out everything that’s different about her or doesn’t align with the way people from her class should look and behave.
“Five thousand dollars is,” he said for the third time, “a lot of money.”
She lifted her shoulders and hands and let them fall in a gesture that accepted defeat. “It is,” she agreed in a small dull voice. “It is far more than I could ever offer you, if I must bid for your loyalty.”
Hammett, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon. 1930. Vintage, 1989. pg 57
Here, Brigid speaks of loyalty as if it is a commodity, in the sale of which the highest bidder wins. It is almost certain that if Brigid was fortunate enough, she would have purchased Spade’s loyalty. But if loyalty can be bought and sold so easily, and need not be gained through one’s actions, is it really wise to trust anyone in this novel?
“It was over – the moment. Against such moments (with women too) there contrasted (as she laid her hat down) the bed and Baron Marbot and the candle half-burnt.”
Woolf, Virginia, and Bonnie Kime Scott. Mrs. Dalloway. A Harvest Book, Harcourt, Inc., 2005.
“I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it calls itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defense the only arms I allow myself to use – silence, exile, and cunning.”
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford University Press, 2000.
Illness and age rose before him like spectres with pitiless eyes: how was he to bribe such fates to give him the second chance?
James, Henry. “The Middle Years.” Henry James: Complete Stories 1892-1898, 335-55. New York: The Library of America, 1996. pp. 346.