As I Lay Dying and its “Interesting Language”

“He came up to see and I hollering catch her Darl catch her and he didn’t come back because she was too heavy he had to go on catching at her and I hollering catch her dark catch her darl  because in the water she could go faster than a man and Darl had to grabble for her so I knew he could catch her because he is the best grabbler…”

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying, New York Vintage, 1990.

I chose this passage mostly because of the construction within it. As Faulkner writes this passage from the perspective of Vardaman, he makes sure it is written from a child’s penmanship. The passage is a huge run-on sentence that contains grammatical errors but at the same time perfectly encapsulates what is going on in Vardaman’s head in the scenario he’s placed in.

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.

Joyce’s Portrait of Childhood

“It pained him that he did not know well what politics meant and that he did not 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” (13).

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

Stephen doesn’t know the answers to his questions about the world, which makes him feel naive and immature. He not only looks forward to Christmas because he gets to see his mother, he looks forward to the future because he desperately wants to grow up. This is ironic because he misses his parents while away at school, like any normal child, but also yearns to be a man.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: Childhood

“He still tried to think what was the right answer. Was it right to kiss his mother or wrong to kiss his mother? What did that mean, to kiss? You put your face up like that to say goodnight and then his mother put her face down. That was to kiss. His mother put her lips on his cheek; her lips were soft and they wetted his cheeks; and they made a tiny little noise: kiss. Why did people do that with their two faces?”

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Oxford University Press, 2008, page 11.