Sunday, June 24, 2018

Araby by James Joyce -– Analysis

The story 'Araby' by James Joyce is part of a volume of the short stories 'Dubliners' based on the author's childhood experiences. Here are some of the features of Joyce's works which are important for understanding his prose:
- Epiphany is an ordinary moment in the present when the moment of truth is revealed;
- James Joyce used the stream-of-consciousness technique, the plot of the story would become less important than the picture of current life in the mind of the characters of the story.
- The visual and symbolic details are very important parts of the story.

In the beginning of the story, the author draws a picture of an isolated place where the main character - a teenage boy lived. The author wrote, "North Richmond Street, being blind, was a quiet street except at the hour when the Christian Brothers' School set the boys free. " The view for the world which the author expressed through the thoughts of a boy was restricted only by surrounding things and circumstances. The narrator said that the former tenant of the house, a priest, had died. He left a few books, their pages were curled and damp, and a rusty bicycle-pump.

The author dedicated an essential part of the story to the description of the boy's surroundings, his "tiny little world". The central figure of this world was a girl. Here are the first lines where she was mentioned:

"... if Mangan's sister came out on the doorstep to call her brother in to his tea we watched her from our shadow peer up and down the street. ..., her figure defined by the light from the half-opened door. Her dress swung as she moved her body and the soft rope of her hair tossed from side to side."

Her image accompanied the narrator constantly, even in places not suitable for romance. When the boy with his aunt walked through the evening’s streets full of drunken men and bargaining women, he imagined how he would protect her. The narrator said, "I imagined that I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes.. My eyes were often full of tears (I could not tell why) and at times a flood from my heart seemed to pour itself out into my bosom."

At last, she spoke to the narrator. She asked if he was going to Araby, it would be a splendid bazaar and she would love to go but she couldn't. It was not an ordinary dialog, the author described the boy's impression, her figure in a light from outside, her hair and so on. Eventually, the narrator said, "If I go, I said, I will bring you something."

In the next days, all the thoughts of the boy were about a trip to bazar. The word "Araby" was associated for him with a mysterious Eastern enchantment. He asked his uncle to allow him to go on Saturday to the bazaar and to give some money for it. At the appointed time, the boy didn't find his uncle home. He forgot his promise. The uncle came back home later and when the narrator asked him for money for the bazaar, he joked, "—The people are in bed and after their first sleep now, he said." But the narrator did not smile. The aunt said to her husband energetically, "—Can't you give him the money and let him go? You've kept him late enough as it is."

The story can be divided into two parts: the first part is about the expectations of a young boy, the second part describes how they turned into reality. The narrator reached the bazaar, entered a shop there and stayed in front of the counter examining porcelain vases. Not far away from him a young lady was talking and laughing with two young gentlemen. The narrator unwittingly listened to their conversation.

The shop assistant asked the narrator if he wished to buy anything. The author wrote, "The tone of her voice was not encouraging; she seemed to have spoken to me out of a sense of duty. I looked humbly at the great jars that stood like eastern guards at either side of the dark entrance to the stall and murmured: —No, thank you.".

The narrator stayed a little, pretending that he was looking at other stuff in the shop and slowly started his way back. This line finished the story, "Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger."

James Joyce described in this story contrast between expectations and results. There are expressions in English such as, 'building castles made of sand', ‘having your head in the clouds’ and so on which are similar to the situation described in the story. No place for pessimism! Tomorrow the boy will see something new, exciting, his life only begins ...

This is a link to the text of the story:

Saturday, June 23, 2018

“Say to” or “tell”

This is a discussion which I started on the site about the English Grammar:

There is a question in the test:
Do you know who she is? No, she didn´t ___ her name.

According to Murphy ‘English Grammar in Use’:
If you say who somebody is talking to, use tell:
- Sonia told me that you were in hospital. (not Sonia said me)
But you can 'say something to somebody':
- What did you say to the police?

Does it mean that there are two right answers: "say to me" and "tell me"?

According to the author of the test - the right answer "tell me". Why?

Comment 1:

Right answers could be "say" or "tell me/us". If the exercise requires two words to fill the gap, then "tell me/us" is the only option. If the ex. does not specify this, then it is an unfair one.

It is correct that you use "say + to + person" and "tell + person".

But you can extend these structures like this:
"say + something (e.g. her name) to + person"
"tell + person + something (e.g. her name)".

You can omit the last idea in the structures where it is obvious from the context:
"say + something e.g her name"
"tell + a person e.g. me"

Comment 2:

You "tell" someone something.
You "say" something to someone.

I want to tell you what I heard last night.
Jack says the party starts at 8pm.

Comment 3:

Further to previous explanation, I would like to add that, in this case, the answer could be 'give' : 'she didn´t give her name'.

This is a 'one-off' specific case which only applies in this context e.g. 'give me your name' i.e. 'tell me your name', and is only used verbally.

Comment 4:

it is not a very good test. IT IS UNFAIR

you can insert either"say" or "tell" her name into the missing gap.But say would be the most natural.

to make it correct for tell it would be.

Do you know who she is? No, she didn't tell us/me her name.

tell is used to say she passed on the information by saying or other means

Say is used to say she passed on information by saying speaking.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Meaning of টা and গু In Bengali

This is a discussion which I started on the site about the Bengali language:

In English, for the singular form, we say, "The house is ours" whereas in Bengali it sounds as "বাড়িটা আমাদের". The letter টা should be put in the last part of the noun.

For plural, the sentence in English is, "The bananas are ripe” whereas in Bengali the sentence translates to "কলাগুলি পাকা". The letter গু should be put in the last part of the noun.

Perhaps, the letters টা and গু indicate the difference between singular and plural forms in a sentence because in Bengali we don’t have words for auxiliary verbs ‘is’ and “are”. Are there other reasons for using these letters?

Answer 1:

The -টা suffix in Bengali plays two roles... one is that of a numeral classifier. Many languages such as Chinese and Indonesian have an extensive set of numeral classifiers (measure words), whereas other languages such as English (and perhaps Russian) do not have this concept. In Bengali, measure words are quite simple... it's sufficient to learn only two. -জন is used for people (e.g. একজন শিক্ষক a teacher, পাঁচজন মানুষ five people), while -টা is used for everything else (একটা চিন্তা a thought, পাঁচটা বই five books).

The other use for -টা is to refer to something specific... বাড়ীটা indicates that you are referring to a specific বাড়ী, not just any বাড়ী. E.g.

এই বাড়ীটা দামী - This house is expensive.

বাড়ী কিনতে চাইলে অনেক দাম দিতে প্রস্তুত থাক - Be prepared to spend a lot if you want to buy a house. (Not speaking of a particular house, hence no -টা).

In this context, replacing -টা with -গুলো/-গুলি transforms it from singular to plural.

এই এলাকার বাড়ীগুলো অনেক দামী - Houses in this area are very expensive.

To say -টা etc. are used to make up for the absence of auxiliary verbs is a bit far-fetched. As you can see from the following examples, you can very well have instances where there's no -টা/গুলো but the English translation requires use of an auxiliary verb.

মানুষ মরনশীল - Man is mortal.

সময় চলে যাচ্ছে - Time is passing.

Answer 2:

Good answer. The second use of ta is a bit similar to the article in English. Not exactly same though.
A/an (noun) = ek-ta (noun)
Two (noun)s = du-ta (noun)
The (noun) = (noun)ta
The (noun)s = (noun)gulo

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Louise by William Somerset Maugham --- Analysis

The short story 'Louise' by William Somerset Maugham was written in an ironic style. The narrator spoke about his acquaintance - Louise, the young girl in the beginning of the story and an old lady in the end.

Her parents cared about her very strongly, as the narrator said, they "worshipped her with an anxious adoration" because she had a weak heart. When Tom Maitland proposed marriage, they were dismayed because they thought that the role of wife was difficult, given her poor health. But Tom was rich and they were not well off, so eventually they agreed to the marriage.

Tom promised to do everything for Louise, he gave up gambling and hunting for the sake of her. Meanwhile, the narrator noticed she might walk for few miles, she might dance all night. Once the narrator said to Tom that Louse might be not so weak as it seemed. Tom shook his head and answered that the best heart specialists in the world concluded that her life hung by a thread.

Louise outlived her husband. He died from pneumonia. According to the narrator, while they were sailing Tom cared only about keeping Louise warm and didn't think about himself. He left Louise with the fortune and a daughter, Iris.

A year after Tom's death Luisa accepted a proposal to marry from George Hobhouse. He was an officer who resigned because of his intentions to care about his poor wife who suffered from heart disease. They lived in Monte Carlo. The narrator asserted that because of it, George allowed his wife "to go beautifully dressed to all the most lively parties, to gamble very heavily, to dance and even to flirt with tall slim young men." Meanwhile, George braces himself with a stiff drink. When the war started, he rejoined the army again and a few months later, he was killed in the First World War.

In order to ease her mind, Luise turned her villa at Monte Carlo into a hospital for convalescent officers. The narrator met her by chance in Paris at the Ritz with a tall, handsome young Frenchman. She said that she was there on business related to the hospital.

Next time the narrator met Luise in London. She lived there with her daughter, Iris. Iris met a good man. He asked her to marry him but she refused because she decided that she needed to care for her mother. The narrator asked Luise about her attitude to this proposal and she answered, 'she can marry her young man tomorrow if she likes. If it kills me, it kills me.' The narrator suggested, ‘Well, let's risk it, shall we?'

In the last lines of the story, the author wrote,
"On the wedding–day, at ten o'clock in the morning, Louise, that devilish woman, had one of her heart attacks–and died. She died gently forgiving Iris for having killed her."

This story was the subject of many discussions. We can find lots of essays and an analysis on the Internet. Commentators mostly focused on the theme of manipulations, which some people use. This idea was confirmed by the ironic style which the author used in this story. The circumstances of the deaths of Luise's former husbands seem also to prove this statement. But is it really so? Let's call it into a question. Because she was ill, she accepted the idea of death. Because of it, she spent her time in parties, gambling, flirting and so on. There is an idiom in English “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”. Her death was real. The narrator believed in her insincerity, but he might be mistaken.

This is a link to the story:

This is a link to the sixty-five short stories of W. Somerset Maugham:

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Winter Dreams by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Analysis)

The short story “'Winter Dreams” by F. Scott Fitzgerald mostly took place in the 1920s, known as the Jazz Age. Behind the brilliance and glamour of those years lay a feeling of emptiness and hopelessness. During these years there was a drastic change in people’s lifestyle and values which presented a new freedom which not all were ready to accept. It is likely that that mood, that feeling of restless and uncertainty was expressed in the title of the story.

At the beginning of the story the young boy, Dexter, worked in a golf club as a caddy. His father owned a large grocery store, so Dexter didn’t lack for money and worked not out of necessity but simply for pocket money. In this way, Fitzgerald established Dexter as a clever boy, who eagerly wanted to achieve success in life. He dreamed about being a champion golfer and imagined himself as a celebrity surrounded by huge crowds, among which was the golf clubs owner, Mr. Mortimer Jones.

Dexter was fourteen when he met Mr.Jones’s eleven-year-old Judy who came to the club with her nanny. Dexter finished his job and he was going to come back home. He suggested to wait for the caddy-master, but the girl demanded that he served them. When his boss came and ordered him to assist the girl, he said that he quitted the business. This was the first, but not the last time that an encounter with Ms. Jones would change Dexter’s life.

Next year Dexter studied in university, bought a partnership in a laundry. Dexter bought it to learn how this business works and soon he was running several branches of laundries. When he was twenty-three he got an invitation to be a member of a golf club where he worked as a caddy. There he met Ms. Judy Jones the second time.

After a couple of meetings, Judy said that her former boyfriend told her that he was "poor as a church-mouse". She said:

"if I'd thought of him as poor —well, I've been mad about loads of poor men and fully intended to marry them all. But in this case, I hadn't thought of him that way, and my interest in him wasn't strong enough to survive the shock. As if a girl calmly informed her fiancé that she was a widow. He might not object to widows, but—"

Judy asked Dexter if he was poor, he said "No". It was not obvious but it seemed that being rich was a mandatory condition to have relationships with her. The author described this episode as, "she communicated her excitement to him, lavishly, deeply, with kisses that were not a promise but a fulfillment."

He was one of a dozen guys who were around her. She favored one, next moment she favored another. He asked her to marry him but she didn't give a definite answer. After a few months, Dexter got engaged to another girl, Irene Scheerer. Her father always believed in Dexter. Everyone in the city knew about this engagement. There were only a few days before the wedding when Judy appeared again. That time she asked if he would agree to marry her. Fitzgerald described his feelings in these lines:

"A million phrases of anger, pride, passion, hatred, tenderness fought on his lips. Then a perfect wave of emotion washed over him, carrying off with it a sediment of wisdom, of convention, of doubt, of honor. This was his girl who was speaking, his own, his beautiful, his pride."

Dexter’s marriage was ruined but the relationship with Judy had no future. Dexter then moved to New York City, for a few years he didn't hear about Judy. When Dexter was thirty-two he had a conversation with a man named Devlin. Devlin came into his office to see him in a business way. During the conversation, Devlin mentioned that he had a friend from the Middle West who married a girl from Dexter's home city. That was Judy.

Devlin said, that Judy was too old for her husband. He drank and spend lots of time with other women and she stayed at home with her kids. Devlin's remark that she was too old for him shocked Dexter. He knew that Judy was only twenty-seven. Devlin commented, “Lots of women fade just like that”.

The author described Dexter's feelings and thoughts,

"He had thought that having nothing else to lose he was invulnerable at last— but he knew that he had just lost something more, as surely as if he had married Judy Jones and seen her fade away before his eyes. The dream was gone. Something had been taken from him."

During the entire narration, the author expressed the desire for a wealthy life of his main characters. It is likely that thoughts of the main characters have a connotation with his life. His future wife Zelda refused to marry him before he gained enough money for the family's future. Throughout "Winter Dreams" was represented the theme of the ideal American life, of money and wealth. Judy was the continuous "dream" in Dexter's life, as well as Zelda was Love of the whole Fitzgerald's life.

This is a link to the text of the story:

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Monkey's Paw by W. W. Jacobs --- Analysis

'The Monkey's Paw' by W. W. Jacobs is a supernatural story. The readers may also conclude that what happened in the story were just coincidences, giving the impression that the author was trying to create suspense through these events. The actions were built around the traditional theme of fulfilling three wishes.

The plot began with a description of a usual evening of the family who reunited with their old acquaintance. This guest brought the monkey's paw from India which had the power to grand the three wishes of its owner. Nobody believed in it before the head of the family, the old man, jokingly asked for two hundred pounds. It was the first wish.

Next day started, as usual, the son of the old man went to his job but he didn't return in time. The manager of the company where the son worked came to their house and said that their son died in a tragic accident at his workplace. He brought also as compensation for it --- two hundred pounds.

In her desperation, the wife of the old man begged him to make a second wish to bring their son home. He did it. They heard a loud knock at the door. “It's my boy; it's Herbert!” the old lady cried. Let go. I must open the door.” “Don't let it in,” cried the old man, trembling”.

The old man found the monkey's paw and made his third and last wish. The knocking ceased suddenly, the door opened. A cold wind rushed up the staircase.

There is an important detail from the beginning of this narration. The previous owner of monkey's paw tried to throw it into a fire, to escape from it. Think before accepting something "for free".

This is the link to the text of the story:

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Seventh Man by Haruki Murakami Analysis

The Seventh Man by Haruki Murakami is a short story written from the narrator’s perspective - about his life. The author gave the name "The Seventh Man" because the story was told by the narrator in front of others, probably six people. Numbers have significance dependent on culture, so the other interpretations of the title may exist too. This story is a classic example of suspense as a genre of literature. Here is the first line of the story:

A huge wave nearly swept me away,” said the seventh man, almost whispering. “It happened one September afternoon when I was ten years old.

The narrator detailed his life in a small Japanese town which was located on the shore of the ocean. The story was about his friendship with his classmate, he named him in the narrative as K. That boy had a kind of speech impediment. K. was frail, so the narrator always played his protector. As an artist however, K. was great, as it was said in the story, "Just give him a pencil or paints and he would make pictures that were so full of life that even the teacher was amazed." There two friends used to play together on the seaside. They were close to each other like brothers.

One day a heavy typhoon was going to hit the town. The schools and shops were closed,. The radio informed them it was going to be the worst storm in ten years, they warned people against leaving their homes. The narrator's family like other people in the town prepared emergency bags with water and food, nailed wood panels to their home’s doors and windows. The wind caused a lot of damage, blowing roofs off houses and capsizing ships. Many people had been killed or injured by flying debris.

Suddenly the storm disappeared. The weather became quiet, it was possible to hear a bird crying in the distance. The narrator asked his father to allow him to go outside the house. The father said that the narrator could walk around for a few minutes because the wind would come back. K. saw the narrator and asked where he was going. “Just down to look at the beach,” the narrator said. K. and his little dog joined the narrator.

Two friends went to the beach just as always, but now everything looked different, "the color of the sky and of the sea, the sound of the waves, the smell of the tide, the whole expanse of the shore.
 The waterline was much farther away than usual, even at low tide. They were examining the things that had washed ashore. The author described it, "Plastic toys, sandals, chunks of wood that had probably once been parts of furniture, pieces of clothing, unusual bottles, broken crates with foreign writing on them, and other, less recognizable items: it was like a big candy store."

The narrator described the feelings which crept him, "something ominous about them—something like the touch of a reptile's skin—had sent a chill down my spine.". He cried K. to go out of there, but his voice did not seem to have reached him. "He might have been so absorbed in whatever it was he had found that my call made no impression on him. K. was like that."

The narrator stood near the breakwater, and when a huge wave came, he survived. But K. with his dog had no chances to escape. The wave had swallowed them. The narrator stood near the breakwater and the second tremendous wave came. This is a description of the storyteller what he saw:

"In the tip of the wave, as if enclosed in some kind of transparent capsule, floated K.'s body, reclining on its side. But that is not all. K. was looking straight at me, smiling ...— it was a big, wide-open grin that literally stretched from ear to ear. His cold, frozen eyes were locked on mine. He was no longer the K. I knew. And his right arm was stretched out in my direction, as if he were trying to grab my hand and pull me into that other world where he was now".

The life of the main character changed dramatically after that. He hardly ever recovered after the tragedy. Nobody blamed him even parents of his friend K. He was in a deep depression for years, K. came to him in nightmares. He left the town trying to escape from this delusion, but memories pursued him.

Being already an elderly man, the narrator came back to his hometown. Everything had changed since he was young. There was no house of his family, no house where K. lived. The narrator walked through the beach. We stood there and thought, "It began to seem as if the whole thing were an illusion that I had dreamed up in vivid detail. And then I realized that the deep darkness inside me had vanished. Suddenly. As suddenly as it had come."

The main character suffered all his life trying to recover from a disaster and the loss he experienced following a devastating childhood tragedy. As it was made clear at the end of the story, losing health and turning to insanity could have been avoided it if the narrator had accepted the fact. The narrator recounted events that took place before the beginning of the story. This technique helped readers to understand the seventh man and his struggle to recover from tragedy. There are some practical points which could help people to recover after tragedy: talking about it, to be open for communication with society - many people would agree, it makes sense.

This is a link to the original text of the story: