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”).

Henry James, “The Middle Years”, Blog Observation

“It had taken too much of his life to produce too little of his art. The art had come, but it had come after everything else.” (338).

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

Here Dencombe reflects on his past and the time it took to produce such a small quantity of art. While Dencombe finally realizes his work’s significance and value, he is met with the inevitable fact that his time is slowly dwindling away.