“The Postmaster” Commonplacing Journal

“And the exile was not disappointed. Ratan ceased to be a little girl. She at once stepped into the post of mother, called in the village doctor, gave the patient his pills at the proper intervals, sat up all night by his pillow, cooked his gruel for him, and every now and then asked : ‘ Are you feeling a little better, Dada?’ ” (164-165).

This passage, as well as the narrator discussing Ratan’s “little heart” (162) and calling her the postmaster’s “little pupil”, show that the narrator is fond of Ratan and wholly admires her. She is a delightful companion to the postmaster, a fast learner who is hungry for knowledge, and, perhaps most importantly, she is there for Ratan in his times of need and seems to have a motherly intuition. There is also a naive pathos that seems to follow her around, highlighted by Ratan calling the postmaster “Dada”.

Tagore, Rabindranath. The Postmaster. Macmillan, 1918, page 164-165.

Social Context in Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God”

“Janie loved the conversation and sometimes she thought up good stories on the mule, but Joe had forbidden her to indulge. He didn’t want her talking after such trashy people. “Youse Mrs. Mayor Starks, Janie. I God, Ah can’t see what uh woman uh yo’ stability would want tuh be treasurin’ all dat gum-grease from folks dat don’t even own de house dey sleep in. ‘Taint no earthly use. They jus’ some punny humans playin’ round de toes uh Time” (Hurston 53-54).

This is a loaded moment. Jody creates an entire social hierarchy by shielding his wife from the poor but good-spirited men. Jody refuses to let Janie blossom and she wants to be members of both societies; the established and matronly mayor’s wife and the easy-going and talkative townsfolk. Jody does this out of an unhealthy jealousy and protection as well as his hubris (which the townspeople notice frequently). Jody puts himself atop of everyone in his hierarchy and his wife needs to be a reflection of that. So ultimately, Janie is stuck in between and is getting restless.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006, pages 53-54

Commonplace Entry — Moral Codes in “The Maltese Falcon”

“All right . . . Tell him how it happened, but don’t drag any names in . . . Tell it as it happened, but forget he had a bundle” (Hammett 160).

The death of the captain of the boat is a sudden and very fascinating scene that also reveals many moral codes in the novel as a whole. The repetition of “Tell him how/tell it as it happened, but” reveals that a moral code brought about mainly by Spade (but also many other prominent characters, such as Brigid — an incessant liar). This moral code is to never tell authorities unnecessary information and to never tell the full truth, but only tell the convenient truth. There is an abundance of deceit, twisting of the truth, and withholding information; so much that it makes the reader’s head spin. These are some of the very moral codes in this detective novel.

Hammett, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon. 1930. Vintage, 1989. pg 160

Commonplace Blog Post — Interesting Language in Faulkner

” I heard that my mother is dead. I wish I had time to let her die. I wish I had time to wish I had. It is because in the wild and outraged earth too soon too soon too soon. It’s not that I wouldn’t and will not it’s that it is too soon too soon too soon . . . I believe in God, God. God, I believe in God” (Faulkner).

Dewey Dell is a remarkable character. Her brain is so hectic because of the balance of the trauma from her mother’s death and the fact that she is pregnant and embarking on this journey. The repetition in the language of “too soon” and “God” is rhythmic and parallel; it is ordered chaos.

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. Vintage International, 1990, page 120 & 122.

Blog 3 — Mrs. Dalloway

“The compensation of growing old, Peter Walsh thought, coming out of Regent’s Park, and holding his hat in hand, was simply this; that the passions remain as strong as ever, but one has gained — at last! — the power which adds the supreme flavour to existence, — the power of taking hold of experience, of turning it round, slowly, in the light”.

The two main protagonists, Clarissa and Peter, both seem to live heavily in the past and reflect often. The only thing that seems to bring Peter true happiness is looking back at his younger experiences and wondering what could have been.

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. Harcourt, Inc, 2005, page 77.

Commonplace 2 — Joyce

“What are you laughing at, you little puppy, you? . . . It was his [Stephen’s] first Christmas dinner and he thought of his little brothers and sisters who were waiting in the nursery, as he had often waited, till the pudding came”.

Depicting Stephen as childlike and innocent (his father calling him a “little puppy, Stephen waiting for winter break while in school, his inoffensive and sweet personality, his graduating to the “adult table, etc.), contrasts in a way with the deep and vicious conflicts between members of his family that makes the reader root for Stephen and makes the reader yearn for childhood again.

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford University Press, 2008, pages 23 and 24.

Henry James, “The Middle Years” Commonplace Assignment

“What, moreover, was the use of being an approved novelist if one couldn’t establish a relation between such figures; the clever theory, for instance, that the young man was the son of the opulent matron, and that the humble dependant, the daughter of a clergyman or an officer, nourished a secret passion for him?”

It is fascinating to witness a writer formulating observations in his mind and making up scenarios about these people he is captivated with.

Henry James, “The Middle Years”, H. James Complete Stories 1892-1898, The Library of America, 1996, page 336.