Introduction to the Setting

“The taxi, under the severe eye of a politician, revolved by slow jerks, with a noise like the grinding of teeth. The block of new, perfect and expensive flats in which Lord Peter dwelt upon the second floor, stood directly opposite the Green Park, in a spot for many years occupied by the skeleton of a frustrate commercial enterprise. As Lord Peter let himself in he heard his man’s voice in the library, uplifted in that throttled stridency peculiar to well-trained persons using the telephone.”

-Sayers, Whose Body, p. 9

I took notice of the description of the setting. Such as the taxi being under watch, which I found interesting, including the noise of it “like grinding teeth”. The word skeleton sticks out to me as well, showing the age of the commercial enterprise and insinuating that it is desolate.

Peter not letting go of Clarissa

“But it was Clarissa one remembered. Not that she was striking; not beautiful at all; there was nothing picturesque about her…however; there she was…No, no, no! He was not in love with her anymore! He only felt…unable to get away from the thought of her …which was not being in love, of course; it was thinking of her, criticizing her, starting again after thirty years, trying to explain to her…she was worldly; cared too much for rank and society and getting on in the world.”

Woolf, Virginia, Mrs. Dalloway (pg. 66)

The passage starts off with Peter remembering his early relationship with Clarissa and the men she could have married. Peter tries to avert his liking to Clarissa, thinking negatively of her and bringing his mind to his present conversation with her in which he was reminded of her flaws.  However, the text shows Peter in a real-time attempt to grapple with the fact that he lost Clarissa. His extensive criticisms can be interpreted as a defense mechanism to cope with losing Clarissa, projecting Richard’s traits onto Clarissa. Peter cannot let the idea of Clarissa go, her memories of her continue to bother and resent him.

The loving power of God

“The world for all its solid substance and complexity no longer existed for his soul save as a theorem of divine power and love and universality. So entire and unquestionable was this sense of the divine meaning in all nature granted to his soul that he could scarcely understand why is anyway necessary that he should continue to live. Yet that was part of the divine purpose and he dared not to question its use, he above all others who had sinned so deeply and so foully against the divine purpose.”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (150)

In the last chapter, Stephen is troubled with guilt and resentment, facing nightmares and fears not based on reality. In Chapter 4, Stephen turns to God and prayer to atone for his sins that he deeply resents. This quote represents the tone shift of existentialism into the passage as Stephen’s devotion emerges.  The text references a “divine” power that harbors love and meaning, a concept related to God. Stephen is shown questioning the divine and his purpose in living. However, Stephen halts his existential thought after being reminded of his sin and returns to the importance of the divine purpose.