“Ah dear, she remembered — it was Wednesday in Brook Street. Those kind good fellows, Richard Dalloway, Hugh Whitbread, had gone this hot day through the streets whose growl came up to her lying on the sofa. Power was hers, position, income. She had lived in the forefront of her time. She had had good friends; known the ablest men of her day.
And they went further and further from her, being attached to her by a thin thread (since they had lunched with her) which would stretch and stretch, get thinner and thinner as they walked across London; as if one’s friends were attached to one’s body, after lunching with them, by a thin thread, which (as she dozed there) became hazy with the sound of bells, striking the hour or ringing to service, as a single spider’s thread is blotted with rain- drops, and, burdened, sags down. So she slept.” (Woolf, 91)
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. Benediction Classics, Oxford, 2017, pp.91.
Clarissa is reflecting on the connections she has in London. Though it is presented in the third party point of view, readers can tell that Clarissa is considering the end of her relationships with her friends and lovers. She reflects on a a beautiful metaphor of the withering connections.
“The tiny flame which the priest’s allusion had kindled upon Stephen’s cheek had sunk down again and his eyes were still fixed calmly on the colourless sky. But an unresting doubt flew hither and thither before his mind. Masked memories passed quickly before him: he recognised scenes and persons yet he was conscious that he had failed to perceive some vital circumstance in them. He saw himself walking about the grounds watching the sports in Clongowes and eating chocolate out of his cricketcap. Some jesuits were walking round the cycle- track in the·company of ladies. The echoes of certain expressions used in Clongowes sounded in remote caves of his mind.” (Joyce, 182)
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man. New York: B.W. Huebsch Inc., 1916. Print.
Stephen’s recalling of these vivid memories shows his artistic mind, and the creativity he holds in while studying and trying to be a good Christian boy. It shows the struggles he faces as an artist, and as a young man, ultimately relating again to the school novel genre.
“He had followed literature from the first, but he had taken a life-time to get alongside of her. Only to-day, at last, had he begun to see, so that what he had hitherto done was a movement without direction. He had ripened too late and was so clumsily constituted that he had had to teach himself by mistakes” (James, 347).
I enjoy the explanation here of Dencombe’s thinking. It has a balance of negativity and positivity, which contrasts his negativity earlier in the piece. I like how this is an observation of his own thoughts, and that he recognizes his own flaws; he recognizes his untraditional struggle and ignorance in literature. I can relate to this myself, as well.
James, Henry. “The Middle Years.” H. James Complete Stories 1892-1898, The Library of America, 1996, page 347.