Fluidity of Racial Identity

“Becky had one Negro son. Who gave it to her?… She wouldn’t tell. Common, God-forsaken, insane white shameless wench, said the white folks’ mouths… Poor Catholic poor white crazy woman, said the black folks’ mouths. White folks and black folks built her a cabin, feed her and her growing baby, prayed secretly to God who’d put His cross upon her and cast her out.”

Toomer, Jean, Cane, pp. 8

This passage speaks to racial identity. Even though Becky is a white woman, because she conceived a child with a black man, she and her child are ostracized and alienated from white and black societies. This is particularly interesting considering that Toomer was of European and African American ancestry, and was able to pass as a white man.

“‘Then she’s be upset, and I wouldn’t upset her for the living world. With that family burying-ground in Jefferson and them of her blood waiting for her there, she’ll be impatient. I promised my word me and the boys would get her there quick as mules could walk it, so she could rest quiet.”‘

Faulkner, William, As I Lay Dying, First Vintage International Edition 1990, pp. 19

Quotation of Anse within Darl’s excerpt. Another commonplace writer described Anse as “selfish” and it is interesting to inquire why. Is Anse’s promise to his dying wife a result of his dignity( how he wants other people to perceive him as worthy of respect) or selflessness to his wife’s final wish?



Stream of Conscious

“…pausing for a moment at the window of a glove shop where, before the War, you could buy almost perfect gloves. And her old Uncle William used to say a lady is known by her shoes and gloves. He 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;”

Woolf, Virginia, Mrs. Dalloway (pp. 11)

Woolf seems to narrate memory as a stream of thought; with the thoughts not necessarily relating to one another directly. But are linked and make sense in Mrs. Dalloway’s conscious

Maturity Unveils Stephan’s Childhood Ignorance

“For some time he had felt slight changes in his house; and these changes in what he had deemed unchangeable were so many slight shocks to his boyish conception of the world. The ambition which he felt astir at times in the darkness of his soul sought no outlet.”

Joyce, James Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Oxford World’s Classics, pp.53

As Stephan matures, he becomes more perceptive to the state of his surroundings. This can mark artistic development along with maturity as Stephan relates his newfound perspectives with deep reflection and inquisitiveness.

“A Life Time to Get Alongside of Her”

” He had followed literature from the first [of years], but he had taken a life-time to get alongside of her. Only to-day, at last, had he begun to see, so that what he hitherto done was a movement without a direction. He had ripened too late and was so clumsily constituted that he had to teach himself by mistakes.”

Henry James, The Middle Years, The Library of America, Pp. 347

Why does Dencombe feel this way? Had he never fully taken the time to appreciate his craft, or let himself appreciate his craft? Or was his hinderance caused by an obligation to make ends meet? That Dencombe saw writing literature as a job rather than an art, thus why it took him so long to get alongside it.