Untouchable – The Proletariat

“Why aren’t the latrines clean, you rogue of a Bakha! 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!” Untouchable, Anand (14).

The proletariat of Hindu society are those that belong to the lowest castes. The caste system is a more formalized version of what informal class systems are in the rest of the world, like the proletariat and bourgeouis. In the caste system, there is an element of cleanliness that marks your position in society. Those of the higher caste, like Havildar Charat Singh, are “clean” and therefore exempt from the dirty jobs that the lower caste performs. Meanwhile Bakha, belonging to the lower caste, is seen as dirty and unclean, therefore being relegated to jobs like cleaning latrines.

Their Eyes Were Watching God, “South”

“And the thing that got everybody was the way Janie caught on. She got to the place she could shoot a hawk out of a pine tree and not tear him up. Shoot his head off. She got to be a better shot than Tea Cake. They’d go out any late afternoon and come back loaded down with game. One night they got a boat and went out hunting alligators. Shining their phosphorescent eyes and shooting them in the dark. They could sell the hides and teeth in Palm Beach besides having fun together till work got pressing.” (174).

Moving south with Tea Cake represents a new chapter of Janie’s life. Not only does she feel freer and generally happier with Tea Cake, but in the Everglades, she is completely liberated from the traditional female role. Learning to shoot and hunt represents Janie breaking free from female stereotypes. Not only does she participate in typically masculine activities, but she excels at them.

Cane and Form

“Her skin is like dusk on the eastern horizon,
O cant you see it,
O cant you see it,
Her skin is like dusk on the eastern horizon
. . . When the sun goes down.
Goes down. . ” (Toomer, 5).

This poem featured at the very start of the novel repeats itself and grows longer throughout Karintha’s section. Karintha’s appearance and skin is being emphasized because that is what defines her in the eyes of the men around her. However, “Men do not know that the soul of her was a growing thing ripened too soon”. They do not truly know Karintha.

Whose Body? Social Problems

“No, Bunter, I pay you £200 a year to keep your thoughts to yourself. Tell me, Bunter, in these democratic days, don’t you think that’s unfair ?”
“No, my lord.”
“You don’t. D ’you mind telling me frankly why you don’t think it unfair? ”

(Sayers, 25)

This short exchange between Lord Peter and his butler Bunter highlights the standard relations between the upper and lower classes. At the time of the novel, “these democratic days”, indicates that there is a kind of change occurring within society. Lord Peter is still nobility and Bunter is still a servant, but it seems that the standard dynamics between the two are changing.

Mrs. Dalloway, Connections

“And she felt quite continuously a sense of their
existence; and she felt what a waste; and she felt what a pity; and she felt if
only they could be brought together; so she did it. And it was an offering; to
combine, to create; but to whom? An offering for the sake of offering, perhaps. Anyhow, it was her gift.” (Woolf, 108).

Clarissa as an older wife cannot have more children and felt as though she had no purpose for existing. In searching for a new purpose as an older married woman, she found that having parties was her calling. It was not simply parties for the sake of parties, but rather creating a way to bring people together. She used her singular connections with each of these people to bring them all together so they can all connect with each other.

Joyce, Art and Artistry

“Now, at the name of the fabulous artificer, he seemed to hear the noise of dim waves and to see a winged form flying above the waves and slowly climbing the air. What did it mean? Was it a quaint device opening a page of some medieval book of prophecies and symbols, a hawklike man flying sunward above the sea, a prophecy of the end he had been born to serve and had been following through the mists of childhood and boyhood, a symbol of the artist forging anew in his workshop out of the sluggish matter of the earth a new soaring impalpable imperishable being?” (Joyce, 78).

At this moment Stephen imagines himself as Daedalus, the figure of Greek myth. Similar to how Daedalus attempted to escape the labyrinth by forging wings, Stephen imagines himself being reborn by building his own “wings”. He wishes to escape the religious fervor which has been imprisoning him. Like the artist “forging anew”, Stephen wants to become an artist in his own way, forging “wings” with his writing.

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man, Oxford University Press, Oxford,2000, pg 78.

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

“It pained him that he did not know well what politics meant and that he did not know where the universe ended. 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. That was very far away.” (Joyce, Section I)

Joyce’s use of stream of consciousness allows the reader to see the events of Stephen’s life from the perspective of his age at the time they happened. This passage is instantly relatable as everyone can remember a time in childhood when they did not understand what adults were talking about. It also reveals the desires that Stephen has as a child. He wants to grow up so he can understand what the adults around him are talking about and be included. The line “that was very far away” also shows the reader the sense of time that a child has.