/SOME EXPONENTS OF THE STREAM-OF-CONSCIOUSNESSTECHNIQUE IN MODERN AMERICAN FICTIONbyDOROTHY O. GOLDEN, B.A.A THESISINENGLISHSubmitted to the Graduate Facultyof Texas Technological Collegein Partial Fulfillment ofthe Requirements forthe Degree ofMASTER OF ARTSApprovedAugust, 196S
13173( No. I'?Ccrp. 2'ACKNOWLEDGMENTSI am deeply indebted to Dr. Everett A.Gillis for his direction of this thesis.Hishelpful criticism, his patience, and hisgenerosity with time have provided the encouragement necessary for completion of this work,ii
CONTENTSACKNOWLEDGMENTSiiINTRODUCTION1I.ANOTHER LOOK AT FAULKNER18ECHOES OF FAULKNER59III.THE SEARCH OF THE ANTI-HERO86IV.ACCEPTANCE OF THE QUOTIDIAN114II.CONCLUSION144LIST OF WORKS CITED147ill
INTRODUCTIONTHE STREAM-OF-CONSCIOUSNESS NOVEL:SOME DEFINITIONSThe stream-of-consciousness technique in fictionreceived much critical attention during the second andthird decades of this century.Although the origin ofthis type of fi-ction is not clearly known, it is generallyagreed that James Joyce was chief promulgator of the newtechnique.The method has since been widely used—and insome cases, abused—and is the subject of much criticism,both laudatory and derogatory.A part of this continuingdebate on the value of such writing concerns the problemof just what a stream-of-consciousness novel really is.Numerous labels have been offered in efforts to definethis unique approach:the "thought-stream novel" or23simply the "stream novel;" the "time novel;" theShiv K. Kumar, Bergson and the Stream of Consciousness Novel (New York, 1963), p. 2.Paul West, The Modern Novel (London, 1965), I,p. 46.3Leon Edel, The Psychological Novel (New York,1955), p. 143.
24"psychological novel;" and, more broadly, "experimental5novel."A few critics have attempted to find similaritiesbetv/een fiction using the technique and the impressionisticschool of painting and have consequently designated it"post-impressionistic." Other critics of a considerably7greater number have used the term "syitibolistic novel,"Qand still others, the "novel of subjectivity."Perhapsthe term which lias been most widely accepted, though itis a rather unwieldy phrase, is the "stream-of-consciousness9novel," referring to the description of mental activityas set forth by the psychologists Sigmund Freud andWilliam James. A related problem of definition has beenwhether to classify the use of stream of consciousness asa technique or a genre.But however the method is labeled4Leon Edel, The Modern Psychological Novel (NewYork, 1964), p. 11.5Robie Macauley and George Lanning, Technique inFiction (Evanston, 1964), p. 88.Herbert Muller as quoted in Kumar, Bergson, p. 4.7Edmund Wilson quoted in Kumar, Bergson, p. 5.8Edel, Psychological, p. 202.9Robert Humphrey, Stream of Consciousness i n theModern Novel (Berkeley, 1962), p. 1. Subsequent pagereferences to Humphrey's work are to this edition. Ibid., pp. 1-2; Melvin Friedman also considersthis question in Stream of Consciousness; A Study inLiterary Method (New Haven, 1955), p. 3.
or categorized, the consensus is that such v/riting is animportant part of our literary heritage and that variationsof this method in fiction will continue to be used in thefuture.Despite difficulties of classification, severalessential characteristics of the stream-of-consciousnesspoint of viev7 are clear.For example, in Robert Humphrey'sopinion, the stream-of-consciousness writers "have createda fiction centered on the core of human experience,"adding "mental functioning and psychic existence to thealready established domain of motive and action in thenovel" (p. 22); and creating a new "approach to the presentation of psychological aspects of characters in fiction"(p. 1 ) . Such novels, he concludes, are identified moreby subject matter than by "techniques, purposes, orthemes" (p. 2 ) . Melvin Friedman expresses essentialagreement with Humphrey when he says:"The stream ofconsciousness novel should be regarded as the one whichhas as its essential concern the exploitation of a widearea of consciousness, generally the entire area, of one11 ,.or more characters."Further agreement may be seen instatements by Robie Macauley and Robert Penn Warren, vzhich,separately, offer similar opinions.Friedman, Stream, p. 3.Macauley declares
that the reader has "a sense of direct participation in acharacter's mental processes—especially in those processes12of which the character himself /is/ unav/are.To thisWarren adds that one method—used by Faulkner in at leasttwo of his books—is to let each character unfold in his13own language or flow of being before us.Kumar may beincluded in this same group of critics on the basis of hiscomment that behind "the new mode of portraying characteras a ceaseless stream of becoming" (p. vii) is Bergson'sconcept of durational flux.On this same point, once moreKumar quotes Edward Bowling's judgment that the stream-ofconsciousness novel is "a direct quotation of the mind—not merely of the language area but of the wholeconsciousness" (p. 3 ) .There is general agreement also among the majorportion of present-day critics that, the users of variousstreams of consciousness "attempt to give the reader aneffect of living thought."Leon Edel is possibly a bitmore exact in his terminology In what he calls the "inward12Macauley and Lanning, Technique, p. 88. " Robert Penn Warren, "William Faulkner, " in Formsof Modern Fiction, ed. William Van O'Connor (Minneapolis,1948), p. 130. Wayne C. Booth, The Rhetoric of Fiction (Chicago,1961), p. 324. Subsequent page references to Booth'swork are to this edition.
turning to convey the flow of mental experience, /trying/15to capture for the reader the atmosphere of the mind."Humphrey's statement of this point of viev; is that thestream of consciousness is concerned with "levels moreinchoate than rational verbalization of communicable16awareness."Both Humphrey and Friedman maintain thatthe stream-of-consciousness novel attempts to conveyprimarily the prespeech or preconscious level, thoughPreidman also asserts that "consciousness is actually the17entire area of mental activity, "which may at the sametime include various gradations from unconsciousness tocomplete awareness.That the reader of the novel is directly involvedin the experience is generally now accepted.Booth saysthat "every reader is his own producer" (p. 324), and LeonEdel declares that the experience of the reader may be"as complex and subjective" (p. 145) as that of the writer.However, all critics are not agreed as to the value of thereader's experience.Joseph Warren Beach maintains thatWilliam Faulkner's use of the stream of consciousness15Edel, Psychological, p. 7 of Foreword.1"Humphrey, Stream, pp. 2-3.17Friedman, Stream, p. 3,
results in great bewilderment for the reader."'" RobertLiddell is of the opinion that James Joyce's attempt, inUlysses, "to make homo fictus coextensive with homo sapiens"19is a failure,and Orville Prescott's evaluations in hisbook Ijn My Opinionsuggest the unnecessary and over-whelming obscurity of such writers as Joyce and Faulkner,among others.Both Muller and Weidle define "the newnovel . . . as a withdrav/al from external phenomena intothe flickering half-shades of the authDr's private world."Some critics insist that the reader's subconscious mustbe in the same state as the author's in order to realizethe experience of the novel, and others see the "thoughtstream" novel as similar to the process of psychoanalysis.The stream-of-consciousness novel does presentdifficulties both for the reader and the v/riter. Theproblem of the v/riter is "to represent consciousnessrealistically by maintaining its character of privacy(the incoherence, discontinuity, and private implications)and still to communicate something to the reader through18Joseph Warren Beach, American Fiction 1920-1940(New York, 1942), p. 169.19Robert Liddell, A Treatise on the Novel (London,1955), p. 91.20(Indianapolis, 1952), passim.21As quoted in Kumar, Bergson, p. 2.21
22this consciousness."Such writing often captures thoughtunits as they seem to originate within the character'sconsciousness rather than as they would be deliberatelyexpressed by him in a conventional novel. Such presen-tation, in turn, often imitates thought by disregardingboth formal syntax and logical thought progression.Such liberties, plus an absence of punctuation and ofinhibition, such as in Molly Bloom's interior monologue,tend to give the reader the sense of mental flow.Wyndham Lewis objects, on the other hand, that such a"romantic abdominal method" represented by the stream-ofconsciousness viewpoint "results in a jellyfish structure,without articulation of any sort."In addition to thelack of normal syntax and punctuation, stream-of-consciousness writers frequently find it necessary to violate chronologicalsequence—"Perhaps in imitation of the human consciousness27itself" — i n order to present to the reader "what is22Humphrey, Stream, p.23Humphrey, Stream, p.24Macauley, Technique,25Edel, Psychological,26Ibid., p. 187. ' Ibid., p. 151.62.23.p. 88.p. 134.
828happening at the very moment."Perhaps the most force-ful answer to the critics of the stream-of-consciousnessmethod is C. P. Snow's statement that the stream-ofconsciousness novel is "a singular mixture of inventedcolloquialism.and inflated 'poetic' mandarin, deliveredin a tone as near as possible to an alcoholic's mumble."29Yet for proponents of stream-of-consciousness writing,"the psychic viVidness of prolonged and deep inside views"can produce an intense sympathy for characters who do not30have any strong virtues to recommend them;and thenovelists v/ho use the stream-of-consciousness method "areessentially concerned v/ith presenting individual personality31in terms of artistic sensibility,"a "deliberate effortto render in a literary medium a new realization of.32experience as a process of dynamic renewal."In order to present' such an aesthetic experience,the major stream-of-consciousness v/riters have variouslyemployed the same basic devices:e.g., free association Ibid., p. 153. Paul West, The Modern Novel (London, 1965), I,p. 46. Booth, Rhetoric, pp. 377-378.31Kumar, Bergson, p. 3. Ibid., p. 2.
9according to psychologic. 1 laws, standard rhetorical figures,33and images and symbols.Hov/ever, with regard to the useof symbols, the novelist can record his imaginative exO Aperience in only "the most approximate way,"since theyconstitute, as it were, substitutes for rationally for35mulated ideas.According to Friedman, the sections ofthe stream-of-consciousness novel are knit together mainlyby such methods of continual cross reference of symbol andimage (p. 24), rather than by the process of action.Theextreme use of figurative language and of classical rhetorical devices, such as personification, hyperbation, anacoluthon,litotes, and of course, simile and metaphor, along withmany others, may lead us eventually, according to West,to regard the stream-of-consciousness method as the leastdisciplined form of romantic poetry."Melvin Friedman lists three- broad methods whichare available to the stream-of-consciousness writer, namely,interior monologue, internal analysis, and sensory impression.More useful, to the critic, perhaps, are Humphrey's categories.Humphrey divides Friedman's internal monologue33Humphrey, Stream, p. 64.Edel, Psychological, p. 145.35Humphrey, Stream, p. 19. West, Modern, p. 37.
10into' direct interior monologue and indirect interiormonologue;The direct form is used for representingpsychic content and processes partly or entirely unuttered(p. 23). The indirect method approximates Friedman'sinternal analysis, in which the author summarizes theimpressions of the character in his own words, and is consequently closer to directed thinking and rational control.Two other categories used by Humphrey are omniscientdescription, which gives the consciousness or psychic lifeof a character, and soliloguy, which communicates emotionsand ideas related to plot and action and which has greatercoherence than interior monologue because an audience isassumed (p. 30) . He further explains that the use ofsoliloquy is a combination of the interior stream withexterior action.Other critics, notably Harry Levin, havealso included, as typical of the stream-of-consciousnessnovel, the cinematic device of montage, which is used toexpress movement and coexistence, or the inner lifesimultaneously with the outer life.Only Humphrey, of the v/riters noted in this paper,has given any attention to the structural patterns employedin the stream-of-consciousness novel. He lists the mostfrequently used ones as (1) the unities, which usuallyhave their framework in the external world; (2) leitmotifs;(3) previously established literary patterns, which are
11often burlesqued; (4) symbolic structures; (5) formalscenic arrangements; (6) natural cyclical schemes, such asin Woolf's The Waves; and (7) theoretical cyclical schemes,such as musical structures and historical cycles (p. 86).Certainly every stream-of-consciousness work has some basicstructural pattern; and though it may be hard to discernthrough the "circuitous, associative demands of the un37conscious, "t iese works can best be comprehended by suchan approach.From the foregoing discussion, it probably can besafely concluded that the representative examples of thestream-of-consciousness novel do have certain characteristics in common;They attempt to present the differentlevels of consciousness, varying in their degrees ofinclusiveness, of one or more characters; they look bothinward into the mind and outward from that mind at theworld.For representing this double vision, certain devicesare common:the interior monologue, in some degree orother; an extensive use of sensory impression, expressedin figurative and symbolic language; lack of directivecommentary, since to all intents and purposes, the authoris virtually effaced, and of the traditional aids ofconventional paragraphing, syntax, and punctuation.The371948), p.Alex93. Comfort, The Novel and Our Time (London,
12reader, consequently, must of necessity immerse himselfin this strange fictional world of another's consciousnessin order to feel and understand the whole of the novel.Despite these difficulties—or maybe because of them—thereader's experience is often much more intense and rewardingthan that gained from reading the more conventional formsof fiction.For the purpose of clarity of reference in thepresent examination of some recent works of fiction, thefollowing definitions are used.(1) Interior monologue:interior monologue is a rather general term which may beused to define those sections in a novel which record theobviously inner activity of a character, regardless of thelevels of consciousness used.(2) Direct Interior monologue;the term direct interior monologue is used to indicatethose portions of the novel that employ the personal frameof reference—usually the first-person pronoun; shiftingsequences of time and place; negligible author interference;fragmentary sentence structure; conscious activity ofwhich the character may or may not be aware; and discontinuity of thought at the prespeech level.interior monologue;(3) Indirectindirect interior monologue is usedto designate such passages in a novel that employ thesecond- or third-person pronoun; guidance by the author;psychic content in the character's own idiom; which show
13a level of consciousness nearer the surface, and even onethat illustrates a verbalized thought-level present,though actually unuttered.(4) Soliloquy:the termsoliloguy is employed to indicate passages in stream-ofconsciousness fiction showing psychic activity with anassumed audience, although the content is not spokenverbally by the character; using the first-person pronoun,and a nearly surface level of consciousness, with greatercoherence than the interior monologue, and v/ithout thepresence of the author.(5) Omniscient description:omniscient description, though a convention of older formsof fiction, is also applicable in a special v/ay to streamof-consciousness writing as a technique for describing thepsychic content of a character in the author's words,v/ritten in the third person.The fundamental differencebetv/een omniscient description and interior monologue isthat the latter is directly to the reader from the consciousness of the character whereas the former comes tothe reader through the voice of the author.In association v/ith the basic techniques tentatively defined above, there are three devices v/hich v/illbe employed in this study:variable chronology.free association, montage, andThe first of these is the psycho-logical process by v/hich a character's consciousnesssimply drifts from one thing to another because of some
14random connection between them—a similarity, a contrast,an imaginary parallel.As well as movement of the psychein response to a particular thought, this device may alsoindicate physical movement of the character, respondingto external stimuli.The second device, montage, referseither to external objects or inner thoughts which followthe principles of cinematic presentation of panoramicviews, slow-ups, close-ups, and a series of views in rapidsuccession.This device is both useful in showing physicalmovement of a character and the quality and rate of psychicactivity.The third device consists of a variation oftime from its chronological sequence.This variation mayinvolve compression or expansion, depending on the conisness being presented; or one time may be superimpcsciousnesssuperimposedupon another; or there may be side digressions, forwardmovement into the future, or memory, within memory.Suchinner time contrasts sharply with external or temporaltime, and the contrast is a valuable means of depictingthe flow of conscious activity.Other means employed extensively by stream-of"" consciousness writers and recognized in the study asspecific devices of the methodare sensory impression,.most often expressed in imagistic form; symbols, whichusually form patterns of cross-references as a structuralframework; and mechanical devices.These mechanical aids
15are used to help the reader identify a change in time, adifferent level of consciousness, or a different qualityof thought.Some of these aids are italics, dashes,parentheses, lacunae, fragmentary sentence structure, lackof standard capitalization and paragraph indention, andspecial applications of conventional punctuation.Stream-pf-consciousness writing has made a permanent contribution to the world of literature and it isstill v/idely employed today, though certainly in manyvariations and degrees.Friedman maintains that stream-of-consciousness fiction was abandoned after 1930,especially in America (p. 254). Edel believes that sincethe publication of Finnegan's Wake—the supreme and ultimaterendition of the stream-of-consciousness novel—"thereseems to be only a retracing of steps, a return to earlierforms, a reworking and perhaps intensification of earliermaterial" (p. 202). But, later in the same work, he admitsthat "there are signs among the younger writers of furtherrefinement of techniques and a moulding of the stream ofconsciousness to nev; uses as well as integration of itinto the older type of narrative fiction" (p. 214). PaulWest, in his very recent book. The Modern Novel, says thatthe stream-of-consciousness mode is used by the novelistswho depict "the anti-hero who now typifies powerless.
16antisocial man"; and that it "has been renewed in significance by novelists who have lost faith in society andtherefore also in the novel as social portraiture" (p. xii) .Since, however, the thought process we term stream ofconsciousness-is inadequate as a structural device foran entire novel, he continues, because it is only one part38of our mental structure,it may be that the continueduse of the method will be found in those novels whichdemonstra
of just what a stream-of-consciousness novel really is. Numerous labels have been offered in efforts to define this unique approach: the "thought-stream novel" or 2 3 simply the "stream novel;" the "time novel;" the Shiv K. Kumar, Bergson and the Stream of Conscious ness Novel (New York, 1963), p. 2. Paul West, The Modern Novel (London, 1965 .