Thursday, February 18, 2010

Book 21: Favorite Passages.

As I am moving into the end of Washington Square I am struck by the simplicity and beauty of James' language. He creates these vivid characters, but does it so simply that they just seem to come to life in your head.

That is skill my friends.

I love writers who can do that. I mean, I do enjoy flowery descriptions at times, but sometimes simpler is better, and easier to read. I am certainly flying through this much faster than I have some other books thus far, and that is definitely due to the sentence structure, etc.

I'm not complaining (far from it). I like this style of writing and how it advances the story. Had James done this in a flowery style, I probably wouldn't be enjoying it as much as I am.

Anyway, I have been marking left and right favorites lines and quotes. I should probably take stock in "post-its" since I use so many of them to mark favorite passages. :)

Here are a few examples of the evil Dr. Sloper's impressions of his daughter (Catherine):

"I am sure that if you were to see Catherine she would interest you very much. I don't mean because she is interesting in the usual sense of the word, but because you would feel sorry for her. She is so soft, so simpleminded, she would be such an easy victim! A bad husband would have remarkable facilities for making her miserable; for she would have neither the intelligence nor the resolution to get the better of him, and yet she would have an exaggerated power of suffering," (95).

"I have done a mighty good thing for him in taking you abroad; your value is twice as great, with all the knowledge and taste you have acquired. A year ago, you were perhaps a little limited-a little rustic; but now you have seen everything, and appreciated everything, and you will be a most entertaining companion. We have fattened the sheep for him before he kills it," (168).

You can see from these couple of examples how condescending and sarcastic her father is to her; and how little he appears to love her and admire her for her strengths.

Like I write about previously, Morris Townsend (her lover), is no better about guilting her and influencing her. Here are a couple examples:

"'You must tell me,' he went on, 'that if your father is dead against me, if he absolutely forbids our marriage, you will still be faithful,'" (73).

"'Then you don't love me-not as I love you. If you fear your father more than you love me, then your love is not what I hoped it was,'" (139).

I love how James portrays both of these characters. And while Dr. Sloper might be right is believing his daughter to be slightly slow, you have to feel for her. On one hand, her lover is urging her to go against her father. She never knows if it is for her money or because he really loves her. And her father is dead set against her seemingly only happiness and chance at love. The poor thing.

This really is a catching novel, and deceiving from what I thought it would be. I really am rooting for Catherine, although, I am not sure what outcome I am hoping for. I know that no new rich man will come in and sweep her off her feet, but I do wish for her happiness.

And for Dr. Sloper to be wrong, but I know he isn't.

It is amazing how much parents know about their children and what is best for them. It must be a gland that switches on when you have children.

Anyway, enough philosophizing for one day, happy reading.


  1. LOL. Had to laugh at your comment about a gland that switches on when you have children.
    Someday you will experience the "parent gland".
    It really can be the catch 22 when you do know your child and let them go to experience the reality of life for themselves.
    Then do you tell them or just let them experience-that is the question.

    Love, Mom

  2. Good use of the word "philosophizing" ;)

    -Bloomer Love