William Faulkner “A Rose for Emily
“The man himself lay in the bed.
For a long while we just stood there, looking down at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of line, had cuckolded him. What was left of him, rotted beneath what was left of a nightshirt, had become inextricable from the bed in which he lay; and upon him and upon the pillow beside him lay that even coating of the patient and biding dust.
Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, the faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils we saw a strand of iron-gray hair.”
T.C. Boyle, “Greasy Lake”
“In one of those nasty little epiphanies for which we are prepared by films and TV and childhood visits to the funeral home to ponder the shrunken painted forms of dead grandparents, I understood what it was that bobbed there so inadmissibly in the dark. Understood, and stumbled back in horror and revulsion, my mind yanked in six different directions (I was nineteen, a mere child, an infant, and here in the space of five minutes
I’d struck down one greasy character and blundered into the waterlogged carcass of a second), thinking, The keys, the keys, Why did I have to go and lose the keys?”
Virginia Woolf, “A Haunted House”
“Whatever hour you woke there was a door shutting. From room to room they went, hand in hand, opening there, making sure—a ghostly couple.
‘Here we left it,’ she said. And he added, ‘Oh, but here too!’ ‘It’s upstairs,’ she murmured. ‘And in the garden,’ he whispered. ‘Quietly,’ they said, “or we shall wake them.’
But it wasn’t that you woke us. Oh, no. ‘They’re looking for it; they’re drawing the curtain,’ one might say, and so read on a page or two.
‘Now they’ve found it,” one would be certain, stopping the pencil on the margin. And then, tired of reading, one might rise and see for oneself, the house all empty, the doors standing open, only the wooden pigeons bubbling with content and the hum of the threshing machine sounding from the farm. ‘What did I come here for? What did
I want to find?’ My hands were empty. ‘Perhaps it is upstairs then?’
The apples were in the loft. And so down again, the garden still as ever, only the book had slipped in the grass.”
Jamaica Kincaid, “Girl”
“…this is how you sweep a yard; this is how you smile to someone you don’t like too much; this is how you smile to someone you don’t like at all; this is how you smile to someone you like completely; this is how you set the table for tea; this is how you set the table for dinner; this is how you set the table for dinner with an important guest; this is how you set the table for lunch; this is how you set the table for breakfast; this is how you behave in the presence of a man who don’t know you very well, and this way they won’t recognize the slut I have warned you against becoming; be sure to wash every day, even if it is with your own spit; don’t squat down to play marbles—you are not a boy, you know; don’t pick people’s flowers—you might catch something; don’t throw stones at blackbirds, because it might not be a blackbird at all…”
All-knowing narrator (omniscient): editorial or impartial? Limited or selective?
Participant or first-person narrator
Interior Monologue: Extended presentation of character’s thoughts, usually present tense
Stream of Consciousness: meant to mirror the the thought process in the human brain
Total Omniscient: usually third person, moving freely between characters
Limited and selective omniscience: reader can see the mind of some but not all of the characters
Impartial Omniscience: Narrator doesn’t judge or make commentary
Editorial Omniscience: narrator makes judgments about the characters
Objective Reporting: more like traditional journalism
Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing (X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia)
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