Mrs. Dalloway

I had decided to postpone reading The Hours since I’d heard it was fruitful to begin with Mrs. Dalloway due to there being nods throughout the former and I wanted to be sure I would catch them, which I started to notice almost straight from the start of beginning this.

We commence with Mrs. Dalloway going to buy flowers whilst Lucy stayed and prepared for the party, I’m assuming, it would come later. Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway is eighteen (which is mentioned in The Hours, but for a different reason) and musing about a phrase Peter Walsh had told her as she walked. It’s June, and Peter will be back from the war soon, they residing in London. Clarissa continues to give pictures of what the city was doing during the day until she runs into one of her old friends, Hugh. He greets her familiarly and she answers his question of where she was headed with why she enjoyed walking in London; Mmk. Hugh, like most of his family, came to London to visit a doctor, he going on behalf of his ill wife who had, it is hinted, womanly issues to attend, but despite which would be coming to her party later, if not a bit late himself for his job detaining him. Peter, the jealous and for the most part, surly type, had a problem with her friendship with Peter, even though he was married, but Clarissa forgave his brashness with being agreeable to walk with her in the mornings; what very simple requirements. She then reviews the right reasons she made in not marrying him and whilst she’d moved on, she felt a little betrayed, it seemed in knowing he had done so, as well. She then considers what book she should give to a woman in a nursing home, Evelyn Whitbread, before choosing nothing and going on her way.

Clarissa then speaks of how she habitually did certain things to influence how people thought of her and her regrets in doing so. Then considering how she’d feel more comfortable as someone else she knew, but currently how even her identity as Clarissa was overshadowed by whom she married, making her Mrs. Dalloway. Clarissa then moves on to speak of how much she enjoyed Bond Street in the morning and how her daughter, Elizabeth differed from herself on the enjoyment of gloves. She also describes her daughter’s temperament to those she didn’t care for from church and one woman in particular, a Miss Kilman she felt opposite for, but Clarissa didn’t like a bit. Clarissa then goes on to consider why she felt such hate and believed it stemmed from love of herself overriding any decent feelings toward Miss Kilman. After coming to this conclusion, she reaches the flower shop which would hold flowers for Clarissa when she had parties, so upon going in and conversing with the florist, Miss Pym, she then gets caught up in talking of the flowers and how they glowed by a certain time of day. Clarissa then believes she hears a gun go off, but Miss Pym relates how it must be another car which had gone by, taking the blame for its noise and then noticing how the car having back-fired, was now parked across the street and the one driving, pulling the blinds on the windows before anyone could get a good look at the supposedly important man within. Those on the street were contemplating who it could be as well, Clarissa believing it was the Queen running specifically mentioned errands. As the car moves on slowly, the same reaction occurs to the people on the street, but soon they become distracted by an airplane writing something in the air and don’t notice nor care about the vehicle now going through the gate of Buckingham Palace.

Lucrezia and Septimus, who are introduced earlier as people are watching the airplane, but now revisit them as they are sitting on a park bench, Lucrezia trying to engage Septimus in interests other than the ones which isolate him. She believed he had something wrong with him, but when she brings him to the doctor, he can’t detect anything and have him try to take interest in certain outdoor activities. Lucrezia meanwhile doesn’t feel like she can share her issues with him with anyone, meanwhile Septimus is shown having deep thoughts he wished to put on paper but being interrupted by Lucrezia trying to get his attention per the request of his physician, he only getting annoyed and distracted. To add to both of their annoyance they then are approached by a young lady, Maisie who had just come to visit London and doesn’t get treated kindly by Lucrezia making her wish she hadn’t ever decided to go there at all. A woman looking from afar at Maisie’s experience whilst she is feeding the birds, her thoughts on marriage given and what the airplane in the sky reminded her of.

Clarissa hadn’t noticed the airplane until she’d just arrived home, but hadn’t even been given time to register what it was when her maid shuts the door, then being told of a phone call which related a Millicent Bruton was inviting her husband for lunch and Clarissa hadn’t been invited with him. This news also disappointing her since she’d heard Lady Bruton’s get-together’s were something to boast of. Clarissa’s sleeping arrangement is shared due to her trouble getting to sleep, as well as the first mention of her proclivity for both women and men (not straight out, but clear enough to understand). She relates a story of Richard trying to quietly get upstairs and hurting himself in the process and then reminiscing about an old girl friend of hers and trying to associate the relationship with love. Clarissa mentions her meeting of Sally and how she seemed to be enamored by not only her looks, but interests as well. Her thoughts on Sally are shared, and a time jump into the future has occurred or she had been from the beginning, fifty-two years old and was only reminiscing about her past. Besides which, she felt like she would be told she looked older by Peter or whomever when he returned. She then goes on to think of her party she would soon be throwing and still chafing from her lack of invite by Lady Bruton. Now though, she went in search of the dress she planned to wear later and considered mending it herself since her maids were busy with other things in preparation. Once her servants began inquiring as to whether she wished them to help her mend the dress, she would thank them repeatedly and decline due to they having enough to do already, then revealing whom she’d gotten the dress from and how she wanted, but never would, visit Sally Parker.

Clarissa then stayed deep in thought whilst mending her dress about where she’d worn it and metaphors in reference to it until she hears the doorbell and Peter Walsh makes his way in to visit with her. Clarissa is surprised he calling on her so early before her party, but very glad he’d come to see her since she would have found he’d been back in town for a day if she’d read his letter. Peter also didn’t have long to stay since he was going to the country, but asked of Richard and Elizabeth, also wondering about the dress she’d been interrupted of mending, Clarissa responding by answering half of his first question, catching him up and then making sure he didn’t mind if she got back to fixing her dress for the party. Clarissa then toys with him by confessing she wouldn’t invite him to the party and he asking her why, she wondering why she’d decided not to marry him all those years ago, they then reminiscing of an old home and his visits with her father during the days he wanted to marry her, he now imagining them surrounded by a moonlit scenery.

Peter than contemplates sharing his news, but begins talking himself out of it for not seeming to live up to Clarissa and all the Dalloways’ standards; In the end though, Clarissa asks him what’s been going on with him which gives him the lead in he needs to declare he’d fallen in love. Clarissa taking his being love-struck in stride even though she seems to be a little irked he isn’t referring to her, she asking who the woman is and he realizing she’s an Indian woman married to a man in the Indian army with two small children and he’s just waiting to see his lawyer. Clarissa then realizes how lucky she is to not have married him and focuses on how he’s become love smitten once more. Peter also realizes the trouble he’s in for just trying to get his love divorced so they could marry and this apparently brings him to tears with Clarissa comforting him, but whilst doing this began thinking how she yearned to tag along with him on his adventures soon feeling as if they’d lived a whole life together and she was nearing the end. Peter then asks Clarissa if she’s happy with Richard which she’s saved from answering by her daughter, Elizabeth entering and she introducing her to him, which he then takes his cue to leave, but not before Clarissa rushes after him to remind he should come to her party.

Peter’s perspective is shown as he’s walking down the street with Clarissa’s last words to him revolving in his mind and how he couldn’t understand, but didn’t fault her for her need of the socializing ploy. Peter’s interest in mechanics is shared, moving back to Clarissa and how she’d changed subjects by acknowledging her daughter’s entrance into the room, Peter being slightly annoyed by how she’d phrased it and noticing how Elizabeth must have felt the same, he soon thinking of how Clarissa hadn’t changed temperament since her youth and feeling a bit of a fool about how he’d broken down in front of her, but he seeming to have a penchant to do so in front of Clarissa. Peter than has the puzzling thought of Clarissa’s interaction with him including some sort of refusal, which may have been in reference to her not answering his question, but this all happens whilst he’s getting ready and not seeming to be aware of it, then having a thought as the clock strikes half-past eleven and the last bell tolls, he thinks of Clarissa’s life ending, remembering a physical  ailment she was dealing with and it giving him a spring to his step to get a move on. Peter then considers the possibility of Richard being able to hook him up with a job whilst some young English soldiers pass him on the street. Peter dwells on the soldiers for a while and then considers how no one but Clarissa knew he was back in London and being in Trafalgar Square providing a feeling of being free, giving an impression of his youth he hadn’t had for a very long time. He then spies a young woman whom grabs his attention so soundly he decides to follow her; always a great idea. Peter than fancies how he’d distract from the idea he’s following her if she noticed his presence by offering to grab a drink and she automatically agreeing; Have to love those fantasies. He starts to lose her on the street as it began to get congested, though, but is able to follow her until she enters a private residence, he then remembering Clarissa’s repetitive words.

Peter considers where his family originates and his indifference to the Indian army and imagines how he’d pass his time as he came to these conclusions, he then thinking of his youth and how this was brought to his mind because of Clarissa and how females tended to live in the past more than men. Peter sits down after this and goes back to his thoughts of Elizabeth and her “queer” look and then analyzing why Clarissa had introduced her the way she had. Peter than decides he’ll want to speak with Elizabeth again as he’s on the verge of a nap in the park and seeing him reach deeper unconsciousness. He wakes with a start and remembers the time he’d been dreaming of, it being in the summer in the early “‘nineties” and being deeply in love with Clarissa. The moment he remembers includes Clarissa imitating a woman in an unstylish dress and realiizng a fact which makes her state she couldn’t socialize with her anymore which tainted Peter’s love of her, even though he understood it was caused by her naïveté and the fact he couldn’t stand how she could go along as if nothing had occurred, driving him crazy, but still over-ruled by his love, even though her words would keep him in a funk for some time after. When they sit for supper, Peter than notices Clarissa, he having sat near her aunt, is sitting near another young man and her quirky mistake of calling Mr. Dalloway another name, is their first introduction and Peter’s sixth sense in knowing Clarissa would marry him. After Peter realizes this, they still have a good time socializing at the party, but he seems to be in denial after and must confront Clarissa another day, to be certain of their courtship being over, he not taking it as in stride as he’d done when he’d thought of it. He then remembers the last time they saw each other before coming back to his senses in the park, having the realization of the distractions life gave him to ease his pain of losing Clarissa and watching a little girl’s antics near a pond.

Lucrezia has come to her last bit of patience toward Septimus when a little girl runs into her and she has someone to comfort and after the child runs back to her nurse, Lucrezia considers she must return to Septimus for how late it was getting and needing to see Sir William Bradshaw. Lucrezia then remembers how odd Septimus could get with certain ideas he argued were reasonable. Septimus’ perspective is given as he has some “strange” thoughts and listens to a boy with a penny-whistle down on the street below his room. When Lucrezia comes in to ask him the time, he has trouble focusing on her question, but after being led back to reality he wavers between seeing a dead friend and then going to Peter’s perspective seeing them as he walks through the park and comparing London life to how he’d been living in India. His thoughts then move to a young woman who had married young to a rich man, someone he never would have suspected to do this. Sally being whom he was thinking of, ponders how she was Clarissa’s only best friend whom could see beyond people’s social behavior and was able to call out “bullshit”. Background of Hugh is mentioned, whom Sally despised for reasons unknown and to whom he was married. A memory of Mr. Dalloway being quite sensible is shared, and realizing why Clarissa must have fallen for him and then discovering Clarissa may have the better judge of character than Sally, she also having the ability to immerse herself in her own little world regardless of her actual surroundings.

Through Peter’s musings (of whom I almost forget is narrating due to the prolonged thought process), he settles with thoughts of Clarissa’s nature and must be sure to insist he doesn’t love her anymore, but must be able to explain and mentions how Clarissa would own up to all of her flaws, being a very honest sort (I can relate). Whom the parties are usually for is then related and how Clarissa was a major believer in keeping oneself busy, after getting similarities between her favorite authors and using a metaphor she lived by and also describing her personality quirks which leads in to Elizabeth’s current stage of dealing with the elder friends of her mother. He then considers how the tables seemed to have turned for he and Clarissa, she now being in love with him and his thoughts of what men really think of having to compliment women once they reach their fifties. He then thinks of Daisy, his would-be fiancée and remembers a letter she wrote to him he knew her plan in mentioning certain details was only a ploy to try and hurt him for leaving on this sojourn to England. His reasons for being there besides attending Clarissa’s party is given and how passion is viewed differently in men’s eyes, he then becoming distracted by a strange sound whistling through the trees which makes him consider the situation the person who was making the sound would have gone through, he giving her a schilling before taking a taxi.

Lucrezia has now also noticed the woman and is feeling sorry for her as she’s about to walk across the street. She imagined people knowing of her sadness and wanting her feelings to be noticed, she hoping the doctor they were going to see will be able to help Septimus. A clerk who didn’t live well is visited, but self-educated himself by going to the library and writing to authors for suggestions on books to read (pretty good idea). Septimus’ past is shown on how he’d come to the city and his first love and her influence on his reading and writing. We learn what Septimus had volunteered to do, even though he was being eyed to move up in his clerk position. After losing a friend in the war, he meets Lucrezia whose family owned an inn, he immediately upon meeting her, becomes engaged with her. This is also the time he begins to have feelings of unnoticed panic and having moments with Lucrezia whilst she worked making hats. As Lucrezia is found to have a critical, but passionate eye for hats and outfits, Septimus is starting to become aware of his inability to feel emotion, but other parts of his brain seeming to work perfectly. When he’s taken his old position back as a clerk, they put him on a pedestal and he seems indifferent to their reaction, instead thinking of Shakespeare’s feelings toward humanity and then Lucrezia trimming hats and her thoughts of having a family at some point.

Lucrezia goes on to speak of what sex her child must be and the baby would be introduced to Shakespeare due to Septimus’ brilliant mind and if her requirement wasn’t satisfied she would be come inconsolably unhappy. This subject was the first to make Lucrezia cry since getting married and Septimus could feel no empathy for her loneliness for wanting a child. Septimus’ inability to navigate his lack of emotion pushed him into a deeper state of withdrawal and so Lucrezia calls the doctor whose diagnosis being there wasn’t a thing wrong with him and he may just need some time to unwind along with a few other home remedies. The doctor speaks to Septimus of trying to feel better at least for his wife, since his being bed-ridden was upsetting her and Lucrezia confessing later how the doctor had invited her to dinner, speaking of his four children and how Septimus was feeling abandoned because of her acceptance to the invitation which cycles him back to the idea of somehow giving up his life for the people around him, he figuring it wasn’t quite reasonable to do it for other people’s benefits since he did get some enjoyment out of the basic details of life, whether it be food or weather. When the doctor leaves and is soon called back by Lucrezia for being startled by Septimus talking nonsense to himself out loud again, the doctor prescribes him some medication which will help him sleep.

Big Ben rings twelve and Clarissa activities are mentioned of what she was doing before focusing on Sir William Bradshaw and how he would drive anywhere a patient needed him whilst “her ladyship” sometimes waited in the back seat of his car. She having the time to think of many random things including her husband and son and community affairs. Doctor Bradshaw had come to look in on Septimus as well, determining he could do with some time in the country, noting his behavior and accompanying illness the previous doctor was unable to diagnose. After giving Lucrezia all the information and what would be done for Septimus in his home, they bring the news to Septimus who doesn’t take it very well, but is thrust to accept his transfer of home temporarily so he could be a proper husband and live up to expectations at his work. After, background of how Sir William helped his patients, which whilst giving the patients’ families ease of mind, worked the patients themselves, up. Lucrezia though, not being among the norm in this frame of thought, disliking Doctor Bradshaw with definitive emotion. A digression involving Hugh Whitbread is given and what he did for the community and the reason he would never accept lunch with Lady Bruton, which then led to Mr. Dalloway meeting Lady Bruton on a doorstep.

A meal with Lady Bruton, Hugh, Miss Brush and Richard, is next, she having invited them under false pretenses and deciding when the proper time would be to break her news, she asking after Clarissa to Richard and Lady Bruton being after social and political acceptability more than pure friendship. An explanation is shared of what her question regarding Clarissa would have meant to other women as opposed to men and how they acted toward each other in the few moments they did run into each other. Lady Bruton than abruptly reveals Peter Walsh being in town once more and everyone in the room getting sparks of recognition and Richard seeming very pleased by the news. Lady Bruton  is seen waiting patiently until they are all smoking and has her maid get them papers before trying to segue to her point of the evening, but then seeming never to reveal it and Richard asking whether she’ll be joining Clarissa’s party, she uncertain for not having a taste for parties. When they leave she lies down for a moment and thinks of a memory with her mother and father when she had dirtied her dress and with this thought and of her other relatives, she goes deeper into sleep.

Richard and Hugh are next as they enter a jewelry shop, Hugh once realizing his usual jeweler wasn’t available decided he wouldn’t buy anything until he was in and Richard, finally deciding he would look for something for Clarissa, couldn’t figure out what to get since the last time he bought her jewelry it hadn’t made time as an accessory upon her. Whilst he struggled with the thought though, he became annoyed by Hugh’s conduct in announcing his decision to wait and so departs to find Clarissa. He decides upon arriving with flowers to announce his love for her, which doesn’t happen very often due to the awkward feeling of the process, but once he’d determined his plan, he then notices the lack of policing there was on the streets and how he was gathering evidence for malpractice quite often. He then considers his words of love for Clarissa once he confronts her and meanwhile walks through an area with poor families entertaining themselves. Richard also confronts how he’d at one time been jealous of Peter and Clarissa, but had his mind eased by Clarissa’s mindfulness of what she truly needed. As Richard reaches his destination, Clarissa is seen struggling with the idea of having to invite someone she didn’t really care for to her party and then being distracted and surprised by the late hour and of Richard walking in with roses, he unable to voice his words of love, but Clarissa understanding his unspoken meaning. The two speak of the party later and of Elizabeth’s current interest with a friend whom had just come by, both of them speaking of the visitors Clarissa had and of whom was at the lunch with Richard, he departing without saying the words he wanted to voice, but needing to get back to work and deal with some business, which Clarissa knew and accepted as she rested per Richard’s parting words due to a doctor giving this particular piece of advice at one time.

Clarissa was then aware she was unhappy about something and slowly figured out what it was which upon doing so, was instantly in better spirits since the subject matter was purely to do with others opinions of what she enjoyed, even at the risk of her health. When Elizabeth walks in to see Clarissa resting, her features are mentioned differing from the other Dalloways’ to suggest they had some deviation from their heritage somewhere and how her personality had changed from when she was a child. Meanwhile Miss Kilman, Elizabeth’s guest, waited on the stair and would be able to hear the conversation between Clarissa and Elizabeth, which the latter was aware. Miss Kilman’s background is shared and what she thought of Clarissa and Richard, establishing she taught Elizabeth history. When the two go out of the room and Clarissa is aware of Miss Kilman, Elizabeth goes to fetch some gloves which were left behind and Clarissa has a “stand off” with Miss Kilman over how she seemed to have such a hold on the girl and whilst Miss Kilman claimed to not hate Clarissa, she certainly felt the need to act coldly to her and felt well within her right to do so since she was paid to do a certain job and thought Clarissa was just a rich snob, which she seemed to be in her own way, likewise minus being rich. Before they get out the door, but still not quite in time, Clarissa tries to remind Elizabeth to come back on time for their party, she already out the door and a loud vehicle drowning her out. After Clarissa takes a moment to think of Miss Kilman in her perpetually sour state, she swiftly moves subject to Peter and his seemingly baffling taste in women. Clarissa then reminds herself she must call for some accouterments for her party and remembers how she must have insulted or hurt Miss Kilman with her reaction to her, thinking Miss Kilman may have held her in higher regard than she truly believed, knowing the woman looked at her with disdain, but still considered she must have been affected by Clarissa’s lighthearted response to her.

Miss Kilman is then shown dealing with her negative self-image and how Clarissa had it so easy, speaking of her issues with a Mr. Whitaker. After, they go shopping and have tea, Miss Kilman getting thwarted in having the cake she wanted due to a child snatching it up when the mother and child sat near them, she not taking it well at all. After, they go elsewhere to have tea and when Elizabeth is done, she divulges of wanting to leave, but Miss Kilman wishes her to stay since she hadn’t finished yet, so Elizabeth waits on her and Miss Kilman learns she will be attending her mother’s party and gives advice on how she should take parties with a grain of salt and Elizabeth not caring for them much anyways is then led into how Miss Kilman seemed to have possessive feelings for her. Elizabeth then sits through an awkward statement from Miss Kilman regarding her self pity, but how it outweighed the pity for others. Miss Kilman then goes to pray after Elizabeth finally flees and pays their bill, she meanwhile having a difficult time connecting to her spirituality and thoughts of the people she’d seen during the day which leads us to what Elizabeth was doing; waiting for an omnibus and feeling too exposed to the world as opposed to how she felt in the country with her father. She then considered the profession she’d prefer going into one day and how she’d spent so much time on the bus she may already need to get back home to change for dinner, but not knowing the hour it was, currently.

After Elizabeth has some time for a walk, she realizes it’s later than she believed and makes her way back, having being given the description of what the objects and scenery around her looked like and changing in the light, Septimus seeing the same things. (Which is one thing Virginia Woolf had going on for her, the almost imperceptible character-shifts.) Septimus is shown having those deep thought moments and Lucrezia worrying over him again, thinking back to his sometimes crazy thoughts she was demanded to write down and how one person reacted unfavorably in Septimus’ eyes once they’d read a part. After sitting for a few more moments, Septimus makes a comment about the hat Lucrezia was working on which reminded her of how he used to speak, seeming normal. They laughed over his thought of the hat and then goes about making it look even better by laying out the accessories Lucrezia would need to change the look according to his eye, which she knew was keen to sense certain odd styles. Having this moment between them made Lucrezia very happy, she trying the quirky looking hat on until a tap at the door indicated the girl with the paper had arrived. After Lucrezia returns the girl to her mother and Septimus wakes from his dozing off, he and she look at the notes she’d taken for him and how the night being referred had been so serene for the two it wasn’t fair how they’d be separated just because the doctor said it was best, Lucrezia confiding they couldn’t be forced to obey. Instead of burning his notes, as requested, Lucrezia decides to store them out of sight, since some of them were wonderful drawings.

When the two realize the doctor had come to escort Septimus out, Lucrezia stops him on the stair, but only for a few moments and Septimus, once realizing he had nothing to defend himself with, decides the only decision is to escape through the window, the results of which, aren’t favorable. Septimus is dealt with and Lucrezia is given something to aid her to sleep and then perspective goes to Peter. He beginning by having thoughts of how people act around emergency vehicles for having heard an ambulance pass and then takes himself back to a memory of he and Clarissa on an omnibus and gathering prized items from a certain market and then getting once more side-tracked by her daughter’s entrance until once again thinking of his and Clarissa’s good-ole-days until noting he’d gotten a letter from her and dreaded opening it for all the drama of feelings the two seemed to have for each other. Peter thinks of how he’d, for some reason wanted Clarissa to introduce Daisy if the opportunity arose and then learning his indulgent interests as he goes to dinner. After speaking with a family who he senses he’s completely delighted his presence with, he decides he’ll attend Clarissa’s party for the purpose of talking about the political happenings of India with Richard to learn what the English were doing out there. As he walks out of the restaurant and thinks of various subjects, he gets a paper and then starts thinking how cricket is an interest which is inescapable. Peter than walks one through how most people view parties and how different age-groups act in them and then noticing how the people of London seemed to all being going out to dinner, he then noting certain individuals who catch his eye.

When Peter reaches Clarissa’s house he notices her maid rushing around to fix any finishing touches to the furniture, etc., which could mean an official was coming, as well, but this not being impressive to Mrs. Walker, the cook. As the party was getting started and the men and women separated, Mrs. Walker is followed, whom is stressing about the salmon always being under cooked. As more people arrived, Peter among them, he then realizes his coming was probably a mistake, due to Clarissa taking on the pleasant hostess routine and he not knowing anyone there, now thinking staying in to read a book or going out to listen to music would have been more preferable. Then perspectives are changed a couple times to land on Clarissa’s cousin who felt like her invitation was a second thought since she’d received it late, she then seeing Peter Walsh and how Richard seemed very glad to see him after the latter had come to speak with her cordially. Clarissa is struggling with whether the party is yet a success and her role not feeling important, which was to stand and greet those who arrived, at the moment. Then Clarissa is greeted by a party crasher, Sally Seton, the two acting very pleased to see each other and as they catch up, the Prime Minister arriving and being ushered around by Richard for introductions, noticing how the man didn’t look important, naturally. Clarissa continues with the Prime Minister through the room and greets more people as they come in and when she interrupts some men who are laughing to ask what the joke is, none of them responding for propriety’s sake, most likely, she then overhearing a polar-opposed conversation between two men about Milton and thinking they weren’t hitting it off very well.

Clarissa continues to speak to certain individuals, one being her aunt and then wondering where Peter had gone, her aunt having had many memories in India. When she sees and leads him to her aunt, she promises to speak with him later and moves on to discover Lady Bruton. They speak for a moment until Lady Bruton notices Peter and engages his opinion of India since he’d just been there. After some time Clarissa gets the time to speak with Peter and then is interrupted by Lady Bradshaw announcing her lateness. She goes on to chat with Clarissa of various things until mentioning a young man who had killed himself earlier in the evening and the slow shock of how Lady Bradshaw could be using this as her conversation piece at Clarissa’s party. Clarissa is then taken by seeing an old woman getting ready for bed across from her window and the circling thought of the young man who died and why he’d done it, but not feeling sorry for him because of the party she had going on around her, making her appreciate life. Meanwhile Peter and Clarissa’s other old acquaintances and friends sat and rehashed the past, awaiting her to make her rounds so they could all talk together. As they wait for Clarissa, the round of conversations intermingle and end with Elizabeth being told by Richard how he had hardly recognized her as she was talking with someone, she pleased and Peter then realizing his excitement and figuring out the reason for it was Clarissa having reappeared.

Smooth and meandering story, the kind one would read during travel or at the beach, I enjoyed it more because I’ll be reading The Hours after, but Woolf has such an easy flow I may just have to read a few more of hers.

Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines

This story was inspired by Little Nemo in Slumberland, the comic. We begin with Ahmed who falls off of his camel and loses the caravan he was following and notices a bird, wondering where it was going and if he or his father would fly one day, his father replying it would be another year; In this sense the story is already strange, this conversation with his father occurring before he’d fallen and been left behind, asleep and getting covered by sand until morning, when he realizes he’s now alone and thinking of what he could have done wrong to be living with such a dire fate he expects will come from his current situation. Ahmed soon uncovers a figure under the sand and prays for direction and hope his life won’t end so young, not getting and answer until he wept upon the face. Ahmed doesn’t notice the first movements of the god though, until he speaks, surprising Ahmed, the two then introducing themselves and we learning the god is named Gonn-Ben-Allah. Gonn requests Ahmed to finish digging him up, stating he shouldn’t fear death any longer if he finishes releasing him. Soon Ahmed is seeing darkness surround them, asking Gonn what it was and getting the answer of it being the “Enemy” as the other half was the “Savior”.

We then learn what the enemy is, Gonn needing Ahmed’s help as strength to the cause. Soon Gonn is making it so Ahmed’s wish of flight will come true, speaking the words which would give Ahmed the gift of flight and upon getting his first taste of this, he then learns Gonn had the plan of needing to go to a place called Yestermorrow. Ahmed soon discovers what Gonn had in mind for him to see, which would be a place both in the past and future. When Ahmed soon believes he sees his father, it becomes a bad omen to Ahmed and brings both he and Gonn, falling to the sand. Gonn disappears beneath the sand and Ahmed tries to dig him out and only being able to again uncover him when he lets the thought of his father go, then being told he must dance and sing upon Gonn’s “grave”. When Ahmed had done enough, Gonn was able to burst out and take them both back into the air; This is reminding me a little of the Peter Pan way of thought, one needing to let go of their family: the past, in order to live freely for themselves in the future. With Ahmed properly letting go, he then sees the scenery has changed and creatures he hadn’t seen before soaring off of cliffs. The two then see recognizable characters from Greek mythology, a boy and his father and a set of golden wings about to be tried out and teaching Ahmed the value of trying everything worth experiencing, at least in Gonn’s words.

As Gonn explains his reasoning for this, they are distracted by an airship made of such delicate materials it’s blown away by Ahmed’s sneeze, they then seeing a hot-air balloon, one of the balloon’s not staying in the air for long, again giving Gonn the opportunity to remind Ahmed not to refuse any sight for they all will teach a lesson. Then they see another man trying to feel the gift of flight by attaching himself to a home-made kite, which takes him up in the air, only not for long; This part reminds me of a short story in The Flying Machine which is from the Emperor’s perspective, since the man on the kite is shot down by arrows with an Emperor’s sign on the darts. This gets no response from Ahmed this time and he then confides in Gonn of how he wishes he could see his father, the god then advising him he must be patient to help give him life, since he was more like a dream in this current state and Ahmed could help him become “real”. Gonn then shows Ahmed tall buildings which men would build so high as to touch the sky and saw men who wished to fly so badly as to fling themselves off buildings with carpets under them and shouting words of flight which didn’t help their cause. Ahmed then sees the sky fill with machines Gonn dictating what words Ahmed must say to insure their forever existing. Ahmed continues to be coached by Gonn to get those asleep in bed to see the grand sight of all the machines in the air, this being the moment Gonn is horror-stricken with the idea he was going to fall out of the sky.

Ahmed soon understands why Gonn has thought this, it having to do with the sleepers who won’t awaken or won’t believe the sight to be seen, the gluttons and lazy people who will only sleep. Gonn soon is noticeably thinning to which Ahmed then decides he’ll be the one to save him, being the only one awake and powerful enough, he “proving” this by informing Gonn so and he taking his former girth. Ahmed then shares how he wished to learn more from Gonn about how he can make those who don’t, hear what he would shout to them, in essence, to be able to fly higher, faster, and longer. Gonn then confirms Ahmed had learned enough to take over where he’d left off and to return them to where he’d found him so he could cry happy tears to let him move on. Gonn confessing how he’d left his thumbprint on Ahmed when he was born and going into deeper symbology as he explains. Before Gonn goes back the way he’d come he makes an agreement with Ahmed for when he can return to see him once more, then Ahmed cries to allow Gonn back into the sand. Gonn helps Ahmed remember how to fly once more from within the sand and Ahmed then sees the caravan, his father the only one awake and mourning Ahmed, who bumps into him and praises Allah he was found. When Ahmed is about to go to sleep he makes certain Gonn is still with him who wished to be called by another name, then giving Ahmed a dream of his future.

This story was an odd, but entertaining, definitely a learning tool for children still wondering why certain days are tough and how to get through hurt feelings. Worth the read.