As I Lay Dying, Faulkner; Limits of Vision

“My mother is a fish.” (Faulkner, pg 84)

This chapter, to me, is one of the most interesting I’ve seen in all the literature I’ve read and it gives a very clear image of what the limits of vision in Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying” really are: limits of how far the reader can see because of how much the character they are living vicariously through understands. Vardaman is a young child and knows nothing of what’s going on, and this single sentence is him describing a horrific scene to the best of his understanding. I think it’s an amazing way to tell a story.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Childhood

“He felt small and weak. When would he be like the fellows in poetry and rhetoric? They had big voices and big boots and they studied trigonometry.”

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford University Press, 2000.

This line to me is really, really eye-catching. It really brings the reader back to the feeling of being a child and wishing you could be older, stronger, etc., which is an obviously important detail when you’re reading Stephen’s story.

Henry James, “The Middle Years”, Observation

“He couldn’t have chanted to himself a single sentence, couldn’t have turned with curiosity or confidence to any particular page.”

James, Henry. “The Middle Years.” H. James Complete Stories 1892-1898, The Library of America, 1996, page 337.

Dencombe is struggling with many losses, including but not limited to his life and his identity and his career as an author, which is incredibly important to him. This realization that he cannot remember a single detail of his revisions, for him especially, is something out of nightmares.