The Less the More

“Cotton bales are the fleecy way

Weary sinner’s bare feet trod,

Softly, softly to the throne of God,

’We ain’t agwine t wait until th Judgement Day!’”

– Toomer’s Cane, “Cotton Song”

This shows an obvious poetic form, which is present through the whole piece but the composition really hammers this in, allowing description to become poetic in a way that isn’t too descriptive. While there’s less description, there are still word choices that characterize in a powerful way


the male gaze

“She was a blonde woman of a few more years than thirty. Her facial prettiness was perhaps five years past its best moment. Her body for all its sturdiness was finely modeled and exquisite. She wore black clothes from hat to shoes.”

Hammet’s The Maltese Falcon, page 25

The style focuses a lot on character descriptions, making sure the reader knows exactly what everyone in the narrative looks like. Taking it’s a detective story, this could be a way to show the way a detective may observe people, or this is just a way to show how the character Spade views women in particular as they are describe in different ways than the men in the novel.

Dewey’s Dignity

“He could do so much for me if he just would. He could do everything for me. It’s like everything in the world for me is inside a tub full of guts, so that you wonder how there can be any room in it for anything else very important. He is a big tub of guts and I am a little tub of guts and if there is not any room for anything else important in a big tub of guts, how can it be room in a little tub of guts.”

– Faulker, As I Lay Dying, pg 58

It seems as though Dewey doesn’t feel very respected or has enough room  in her life to do important things such as taking care of the family once her mother passes. She just wants help, and feels as though there’s an imbalance as ‘he’ is a big tub, and she is the small tub.

Old Uncle William

“And her old Uncle William used to say a lady is known by her shoes and her gloves. He had turned on his bed one morning in the middle of the War. He had said, “I have had enough.” Gloves and shoes; she had a passion for gloves; but her own daughter, her Elizabeth, cared not a straw for either of them.”

– Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, 8 (from a Feedbooks scan)

This shows the way Clarissa thinks while with herself, thinking back to her old Uncle while looking at gloves in a store. There’s also a link to her daughter, who gets introduced through this memory, which shows how the people she thinks about may be important.


“The light spread upwards from the glass roof making the theatre a festive ark, anchored among the hulks of houses, her frail cables of lanterns looping her to her moorings.”

–  James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Pg.  78)

The theater, in this context, is regarded to as a woman, with pronouns such as “her” used to describe it. This is interesting as this occurs after Stephen comes face with a beautiful woman, and perhaps the narration shows how he is thinking of her even while describing architecture.

Fear of the Unfinished

“What he dreaded was the idea that his reputation should stand on the unfinished. It was not with his past but with his future that it should properly be concerned. Illness and age rose before him like spectres with pitiless eyes: how was he to bribe such fates to give him the second chance?”

– Henry James, “The Middle Years“, page 346

This passage personifies the future as a being that can be bribed, showing Decombe’s perception of himself and the world he is in. His fear of being unfinished seems to be rooted not only in whether or not his works will become great, but of being forgotten– and it’s to the point where he feels the need to rely on fate to make the change for him.