Anand, “Untouchable”, Proletariat Divides

“But then his father had told him that schools were meant for the babus, not for the lowly sweepers. Later at the British barracks he realized why his father had not sent him to school. He was a sweeper’s son and could never be a babu. Later still he realized that there was no school that would admit him because the parents of the other children would not allow their sons to be contaminated by the touch of the low-caste man’s sons” (Anand 33).

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. London, United Kingdom: Penguin Books, 1940.

The caste system rigidly enforces a lower class proletariat through the control of what people can go to school and get an education. Those who from birth were marked as low-caste are locked into life within the proletariat with no hope of moving up the social ladder.

Hurston, “Their Eyes Were Watching God”, Adapting to the Wild South

“A baby rabbit, terror ridden, squirmed through a hole in the
floor and squatted off there in the shadows against the wall,
seeming to know that nobody wanted its flesh at such a
time. And the lake got madder and madder with only its
dikes between them and him. In a little wind-lull, Tea Cake touched Janie and said, “Ah reckon you wish now you had of stayed in yo’ big house
’way from such as dis, don’t yuh?”
“Yeah, naw. People don’t die till dey time come nohow,
don’t keer where you at. Ah’m wid mah husband in uh
storm, dat’s all”” (Hurston 206).

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. 1937. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013.

Tea Cake believes that Janie when exposed to the fierce winds of a southern storm will wish to return to her old home. However, to his surprise, despite the ferocity of the storm Janie has adapted to and adores the wild lifestyle they live in the south and the storm does not bother her.

Toomer, “Cane”, Formatting of Prose for the Reader

“When the first was born, the white folks said they’d have no more to do with her. And black folks, they too joined hands to cast her out… The pines whispered to Jesus.. The railroad boss said not to say he had said it, but she could live, if she wanted to, on the narrow strip of land between the railroad and the road.” (Toomer 9).

Toomer, Jean. Cane. Boni and Liveright, 1923.

Toomer formats the prose of “Becky” how he intends it to be read aloud. The ellipses and two periods work to clue the reader into pausing for air and the commas show when there should be a light pause in the delivery of the line. Since African American culture is largely oral, it is an important aspect of the book’s cultural influence to understand the prose and format of the book in this way.

Sayers, “Whose Body?”, The Relationship Between Mystery and Social Issues

“He was a labouring man, unemployed , but who had only recently lost his employment. He had been tramping about looking for a job when he met with his end. Somebody killed him and washed him and scented him and shaved him in order to disguise him , and put him into Thipps’s bath without leaving a trace.” (Sayers 44).

Sayers, Dorothy Leigh. Whose Body?. United Kingdom, Boni and Liveright, 1923.

Lord Peter observes that the social status of the victim and culprit are essential for understanding the mystery, proposing that the culprit leveraged his high status to successfully disguise his working class, unemployed victim as someone of high status to throw off the investigators. The social issue of oppression by the upper class is therefore a focus by Sayers, tied into the story through its relation to the plot.

Woolf, “Mrs. Dalloway”, A Moment of Connection to Literature

“She could not even get an echo of her old emotion. But she could remember going cold with excitement, and doing her hair in a kind of ecstasy (now the old feeling began to come back to her, as she took out her hairpins, laid them on the dressing-table, began to do her hair), with the rooks flaunting up and down in the pink evening light, and dressing, and going downstairs, and feeling as she crossed the hall “if it were now to die ’twere now to be most happy.” That was her feeling–Othello’s feeling, and she felt it, she was convinced, as strongly as Shakespeare meant Othello to feel it, all because she was coming down to dinner in a white frock to meet Sally Seton!” (Woolf 38).

Woolf, Virginia, and Bonnie Kime Scott. Mrs. Dalloway. A Harvest Book, Harcourt, Inc., 2005.

Clarissa recalls her past affection and feelings for Sally Seton, connecting their strength to Shakespeare’s Othello. She insinuates that her love for Sally was as deep and passionate as Othello’s for Desdemona (at the start of the play), furthering the reader’s understanding of the nature of their relationship.

Joyce, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”, Art and Artistry Within Prose

“The phrase and the day and the scene harmonised in a chord.
Words. Was it their colours? He allowed them to glow and fade, hue
after hue: sunrise gold, the russet and green of apple orchards, azure
of waves, the greyfringed fleece of clouds. No, it was not their
colours: it was the poise and balance of the period itself. Did he then
love the rhythmic rise and fall of words better than their associations
of legend and colour? Or was it that, being as weak of sight as he was
shy of mind, he drew less pleasure from the reflection of the glowing
sensible world through the prism of language many coloured and
richly storied than from the contemplation of an inner world of
individual emotions mirrored perfectly in a lucid supple periodic
prose?” (Joyce 140).

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

In his religious devotion, Stephen still focuses on artistry and the imagery behind each word of a phrase. From a single phrase he reads, Stephen extrapolates its meaning and how it serves to create a world within its reader’s imagination.


James, “The Middle Years”, and Observation

“He had followed literature from the first, but he had taken a lifetime to get alongside 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 clumsily constituted that he had had to teach himself by mistakes” (James 347).

James, Henry. “The Middle Years.” Henry James: Complete Stories 1892-1898, 335-55. New York: The Library of America, 1996. pp. 347.

Dencombe in his fading health observes how despite his achievement  of a soon to be successful novel, it marks the end of his bittersweet career. In his struggle to reach his ideal through mistakes, he had squandered the limited time he had to live and lost the time he needed to reach perfection.