Common Place Book: Part 2 gracie whitaker

"A Good Man Is Hard to Find"

Flannery O'Connor

  • "Her collars and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace and at her neckline she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet. In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady," (O'Connor). I feel like this concern with image is complementary to her sort of selfish demeanor.
  • "'Little niggers in the country don't have things like we do. If I could paint, I'd paint that picture,' she said," (O'Connor). She is quite uninhibited in the way she chooses to speak.
  • "'She would of been a good woman,' The Misfit said, 'if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.'" (O'Connor) Even the misfit could tell she was image-obsessed.

"The Tell-Tale Heart"

Edgar Allen Poe

  • "You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded --with what caution --with what foresight --with what dissimulation I went to work!" (Poe). The way in which he claims not to be mad seems exactly like what a mad man would do.
  • "For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down," (Poe). This is very creepy sounding. He is definitely a mad man. And a murderer.
  • "If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs," (Poe). Yet even more of an attempt to convince the reader and probably himself as well that he is not mad. And yet again he accompanies the claim with an action that is clearly insane.


Herman Melville

Chapters 37-46
  • "Farewell and adieu to you, Spanish Ladies! Farewell and adieu to you, ladies of Spain!" (Melville 145). This chapter was written in an interesting play-like manner. It was only the harpooners and sailors talking, which gave it a camaraderie-esque feel.
  • "For it was not so much his uncommon bulk that so much distinguished him from other sperm whales, but, as was elsewhere thrown out- a peculiar snow-white wrinkled forehead, and a high, pyramidical white hump. These were his prominent features; the tokens whereby, even in the limitless, uncharted seas, he revealed his identity, at a long distance, to those who knew him," (Melville 155). I'm curious as to how Moby Dick acquired these features if he was not born with him, and what they symbolize.
  • "He sleeps with clenched hands; and wakes with his own bloody nails in his palms," (Melville 169)

The Fish

Elizabeth Bishop

  • "Here and there his brown skin hung in strips like ancient wallpaper, and its pattern of darker brown was like wallpaper," (Bishop) She mentioned that he hadn't fought at all in addition to his scales seeming ancient, it gives the impression that he's at the end of a long life.
  • "I looked into his eyes which were far larger than mine but shallower, and yellowed, the irises backed and packed with tarnished tinfoil seen through the lenses of old scratched isinglass. They shifted a little, but not to return my stare," (Bishop). I think it's interesting that Bishop specified that the fish didn't return her stare. The way she had been describing the fish was seemingly personal until that part.
  • "And I let the fish go," (Bishop). This sentence could arguable take away meaning or give meaning to the whole poem, depending on how you look at it.


Herman Melville

Chapters 47- end
  • "If two strangers crossing the Pine Barrens in New York State, or the equally desolate Salisbury Plain in England; if casually encountering each other in such inhospitable wilds, these twain, for the life of them, cannot well avoid a mutual salutation; and stopping for a moment to interchange the news; and perhaps, sitting down for a while and resting in concert..." (Faulkner 196). This quote, talking about the desolation of New York and England connects back to the first chapter in which Ishmael describes the sea as an escape.
  • "To some general interest in the White Whale was was now wildly heightened by a circumstance of the Town-Ho's story, which seemed obscurely to involve with the whale a certain wondrous, inverted visitation of one of those so called judgements of God which at times are said to overtake some men," (199). Ishmael seems rather skeptical of religion in this quote.
  • "The whale line is only two thirds of an inch in thickness. At first sight you would not think it so strong as it really is," (227). I wonder if Ishmael is making a metaphor of some sort here.
  • "To ensure the greatest efficiency in the dart, the harpooners of this world must start to their feet out of idleness, and not from out of toil," (234). You never know when a whale will come around that you'll need to catch.
  • "Mingling their mumblings with his own mastications, thousands on thousands of sharks, swarming round the dead leviathan, smackingly feasted on its fatness," (236). This sentence is rhetorically pleasing.
  • "'Don't I always say that to be good, a whale-steak must be tough?'" (237) Underlying symbolism of the fight for Moby Dick being worth it.
  • "The fact is, that among his hunters at least, the whale would by all hands be considered a noble dish, were there not so much of him; but when you come to sit down before a meat-pie nearly one hundred feet long, it takes away your appetite," (241). There is no argument here, that is a gross image.
  • "In the case of a small Sperm Whale the brains are accounted a fine dish," (241). It's as if Melville takes pleasure in the grotesque.
  • "And what do you pick your teeth with, after devouring that fat goose? With a feather of the same fowl," (242). Ishmael makes a good argument that using whale bones and eating whale is no more barbaric than eating geese.
  • "'Queequeg no care what god made him shark,'" (243) Queequeg the savage remains one of the wisest characters in the novel.
  • "...that all this should be, and yet, that down to this blessed minute (fifteen and a quarter minutes past one o'clock P.M. of this sixteenth day of December, A.D. 1850)" (290). This is a really peculiar way of telling the time and date. I wonder what Melville's intention of this was.
  • "But then again, what has the whale to say, Seldom have I known any profound being that had anything to say to this world..." (291). The whale's presence is enough of a statement.
  • "The skeleton dimensions I shall now proceed to set down are copied verbatim from my right arm, where I had them tattooed; as in my wild wandering at that period, there was no other secure way of preserving such valuable statistics. But as I was crowded for space, and wished the other parts of my body to remain a blank page for a poem I was then composing- at least, what untattooed parts might remain- I did not trouble myself with the odd inches; nor, indeed, should inches at all enter into a congenial admeasurement of the whale," (346-347). This whole passage is full of strange parts. He tattooed whale measurements on his arm but of course not down to the inches, that would have been ridiculous.
  • "In length, the Sperm Whale's skeleton at Tranque measured seventy-two feet; so that when fully invested and extended in life, he must have been ninety feet long; for in the whale, the skeleton loses about one fifth in length compared with the living body," (347) I wonder how Melville himself went about gathering all of this information about whales or if he fudged some of it.

Annabel Lee

Edgar Allen Poe

  • I really like the rhythm of this poem, it reads like a song.
  • The title could have alternatively been The Kingdom by the Sea
  • "Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know, in this kingdom by the sea)" (Poe) This is reminiscent of The Tale Tale Heart as it sounds like Poe is trying to convince himself or the reader of something.
  • "But we loved with a love that was more than love— I and my Annabel Lee—" (Poe) This is a really pretty line.
  • "For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams of the beautiful Annabel Lee" (Poe). This is also a beautiful sing-song-ish line.

As I Lay Dying

William Faulkner

  • "A good carpenter. Addie Bundren could not want a better one, a better box to lie in," (Faulkner 4-5). Already the book is taking a dark disposition.
  • "The shirt across pa's hump is faded lighter than the rest of it. There is no sweat stain on his shirt. I have never seen a sweat stain on his shirt. He was sick once from working in the sun when he was twenty-two years old, and he tells people that if he ever sweats, he will die," (17). This character seems pretty shady, there definitely is no disease that makes sweating fatal.
  • "It was Darl, the one that folks say is queer, lazy, pottering about the place no better than Anse..." (24) I guess other characters don't like Anse either.
  • "And so it was because I could not help it. It was then, and then I saw Darl and he knew. He said he knew without the words like he told me that ma is going to die without words, and I knew he knew because if he had said he knew with the words I would not have believed that he had been there and saw us," (27) The language in this suggests a low level of education, juxtaposed to a higher level of communication between the siblings. A weird combination of ideas.
  • In Anse's first section, he keeps repeating "Durn them," which speaks a lot to his character and attitude. He seems pretty lame.
  • "She looks at pa; all her failing life appears to drain into her eyes, urgent, irremediable," (47). Darl seems to be the only character who shows any remorse for Addie's exiting life.
  • It's like everything in the world for me is inside a tub full of guts, so that you wonder how there can be any room in it for anything else very important. He is a big tub of guts and I am a little tub of guts and if there is not any room for anything else important in a bit tub of guts, how can it be room in a little tub of guts, "(58). Dewey Dell has a very specific style of thought.
  • "I made it on a bevel," (82). In this section Cash lists 13 "reasons" for why he crafted Addie's coffin on a bevel. Some of the points are simply transitions, its an interesting formatting.
  • "My mother is a fish," (84). This is a whole section on it's own. Quite bizarre, following the style of the book.
  • "I cannot love my mother because I have no mother. Jewel's mother is a horse," (95). Who are these mothers? I wonder what Faulkner was trying to communicate through this motif.
  • "'Goddamn you. Goddamn you,'" (99) Jewel keeps condemning Darl, which is ironic considering the fact that Jewel technically is the bastard.
  • "I am the chosen of the Lord, for who He loveth, so doeth He chastiseth," (111) Anse sure does have a lot of confidence in himself in terms of how God views him.
  • "But now I can get them teeth. That will be a comfort. It will," (111) He went from talking about God to talking about his selfish desires.
  • "When they told me she was dying, all that night I wrestled with Satan, and I emerged victorious," (177). This in a way equates Addie to Satan. Whitfield beat them both.

The Fall of the House of Usher

Edgar Allen Poe

  • "In the manner of my friend I was at once struck with an incoherence --an inconsistency; and I soon found this to arise from a series of feeble and futile struggles to overcome an habitual trepidancy --an excessive nervous agitation," (Poe). The house and the inhabitant seems to be dichotomies of each other.
  • "He suffered much from a morbid acuteness of the senses; the most insipid food was alone endurable; he could wear only garments of certain texture; the odours of all flowers were oppressive; his eyes were tortured by even a faint light; and there were but peculiar sounds, and these from stringed instruments, which did not inspire him with horror," (Poe). This sounds like a horrible way to live.
  • "But the under surfaces of the huge masses of agitated vapour, as well as all terrestrial objects immediately around us, were glowing in the unnatural light of a faintly luminous and distinctly visible gaseous exhalation which hung about and enshrouded the mansion," (Poe). Poe uses very descriptive language to give the reader an eerie feeling, using words that evoke uneasy emotions.
  • "It was the work of the rushing gust --but then without those doors there DID stand the lofty and enshrouded figure of the lady Madeline of Usher," (Poe). Poe is talented at creating surprise in texts, which is considerably hard to do with the only medium being ink on paper.

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