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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hey Moment -- Don't pass me by, don't make me cry, don't make me blue *

After reading the four short stories assigned for homework (“In the Orchard,” “The Lady in the Looking-Glass, A Reflection,” “Moments of Being,” and “The New Dress”), I tried to discern a connection, a thread, a tie, anything that may have connected these stories.    “The New Dress” and “The Lady in the Looking-Glass” seem to have one’s appearance in common.   The woman with the new dress tried what many of us have tried to do, dress up to impress others only to realize during a moment of clarity that it was a worthless effort.  We are still who we are behind the clothes.  We see the woman who was reflected in the looking-glass as being an older woman who had many friends, written love letters, experienced passion, traveled the world.  In the reflection of the mirror, we watch her tend her garden, we presume her thoughts, we give her kind thoughts of a widow, and we give her profound knowledge.  She saves her letters, you know; she ties them up with red ribbons and stores them with fragrant twigs of lavender stuffed and locked away in one of the many little drawers.  But then, something happens.  She comes into the room, sees that the postman has come and delivered her bills, not letters from friends.  In the final moment of the story, we see her face in the mirror and realize that there’s nothing there.  Isabella was not only empty, she was perfectly empty.  Her thoughts weren’t profound because her mind was vacant.  In one story, we see a woman who tries to be something she isn’t; in the second story, we see a woman as being something when it turns out that she’s nothing.  Both of them are reflected in looking-glasses.

How ever we may feel sorry or pity for Mabel Waring in her pitiful, out-of-date, yellow dress; we at least know that she had had “divine moments” which links us to “Moments of Being.”  This story is a six-page moment, the moment that it takes a flower to fall and to find the pin that held it.  It’s a moment of memories and “little character sketches” (MoB 1).  It’s a moment that we see a rose turn into a carnation.  Why did the flower change?  Just before I finished this, I wondered just how long a moment is.   Is it a measure of time or the length of an occurrence, a happening?   The kiss lasted but a moment.  We’ll be there in a moment.  I’ll only be a moment.  Can one “BE” only a moment?  There’s a moment in history.  What about a moment in time?  Could I have a moment of your time?  Moments can be memorable just as days can be memorable, but could a whole year be so?  Fanny thinks of all these moments that Julia Craye has lived, and she wants her moment with her also.  In the end she does, for Julia blazed and kindled and kissed Fanny – on the lips.

And so, here we are now at the last story.  A story of a moment told three different ways.  Out of the four, this was my least favorite.  In the first telling, Miranda is asleep; in the second, she’s perhaps asleep or not; and in the third, was she asleep or not, we don’t know.  The story has the appearance of playing with reality.  Which story is real?  Each version of the story gets shorter than the one before it.  Perhaps the only truth in the story, being that it was repeated verbatim three times, is that she’ll be late for tea.

So if you take a moment, you can link the stories together­­: 1-2, 2-3, 3-4.  There is a thread that connects the pairings, but I don’t see a common thread through them all.  I must say, I empathized with Mabel trying to fit in with her new dress, but “Moments of Being” actually touched me.  We all have our special moments through life: “critical moments,” “moments or horror” (MoB 4), happy moments, and “moments of ecstasy” (MoB 5).  And moments when we need to shake the self-pity and get to back to work.   Yes, for a moment, the story made me wallow in self-pity.  Instead of a Mrs. Dalloway party, I had a pity-party.  So, with that I’ll close.

Addendum (or after lecture comments):
Okay, I realize now what my problem was with trying to discern what theme was that tied these three stories together; I was looking too closely.  I should have tried the broader view because in class we learned that the shared theme was identity. 

One more comment: 
I may be so far off base that I get kicked out of the game (figuratively speaking, of course), BUT after seeing (or being shown) the phallic symbolism in "In the Orchard," I began to wonder if maybe Miranda was raped?  If you pull out some of the phrases, it does make one wonder:  "Her purple dress stretched between the two apple-trees," "a rush up the trunk," "spread wide into branches," and "the blue-green was slit by a purple streak."  I'm just supposing.

Lennon, John and Paul McCartney.  "Don't Pass Me By."  The White Album.  Apple Records.  1968.  Memory.  21 September 2010.

Woolf, Virginia.  "The Lady in the Looking-Glass:  A Reflection."  eBooks@Adelaide.  The University of Adelaide, 26 July 2010.  Web.  21 September 2010.

Woolf, Virginia.  "In the Orchard."  Woolf Short Stories.  A Project Gutenberg of Australia ebook.  October 2002.  web.  21 September 21. 

Woolf, Virginia.  "Moments of Being."  eBooks@Adelaide.  The University of Adelaide, 26 July 2010.  Web.  21 September 2010.

Woolf, Virginia.  "The New Dress."  eBooks@Adelaide.  The University of Adelaide, 26 July 2010.  Web.  21 September 2010.

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