Faulkner’s Strange Idioms

“They would risk the fire and the earth and the water and all just to eat a sack of bananas” (Faulkner 140).

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. Vintage International, 1990.

This quote, from Tull’s chapter privately criticizing the stubborn determination of Anse and Dewey Dell to see Addie across the flooded river and buried as per her wishes, is interesting. The book keeps commenting on the value of death: the respect that should be owed the dead, what hold they should have on the lives of the living. Anse feels indebted to the mother and seems “bent” on making his shortcomings up to her retroactively, Dewey Dell simply having an emotional attachment, Jewel feeling it somewhat distantly, even as a thing of obligation, needing some coercion, and Darl, who seemed to love Addie, feels that she has passed out of existence, that she is no longer his mother anymore, no longer “is.” Though they all experience it differently, nevertheless the family unites to bury the mother, but in Tull’s eyes, the whole pursuit, not only foolhardy because of the mortal danger of the storm, seems an extravagance anyway, neither practical nor especially worthy (like a “sack of bananas”).

Commonplace-Book Entry: “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” by James Joyce, Childhood Innocence

“He felt the touch of the prefect’s fingers as they had steadied his hand and at first he had thought he was going to shake hands with him because the fingers were soft and firm: but then in an instant he had heard the swish of the soutane sleeve and the crash.”

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford University Press Inc., 2000, page 43.

I thought that it was interesting that Stephen thought that Father Dolan was going to do something nice and polite in his gesture even though he had just seen what he had done to Fleming previously and knew that he was going to get hit as well. This makes me think that Stephen seems to always perceive adults in his life as kind, and I feel that this is perhaps because, at least up to this age, that every adult seems to have treated him kindly, such as those in his family, or maybe his soft, firm hands reminds him of someone that was kind to him, such as his father. Maybe this is also because of his childhood innocence, as he is a very timid child who seems to think more fondly of adults like his mother over his peers, who he tends to judge.