Clock Without Hands
Time After Time: Postmodernism and the Role of Linguistic Manipulation in Carson McCullers’ A Clock Without Hands
Carson McCullers’ 1953 novel A Clock Without Hands exemplifies the postmodernist tradition by establishing a continuum of four central characters separated by their motives for manipulating language. The spectrum ranges from white to black, both literally and figuratively. The characters at each end, Judge Fox Clane and Sherman Pew, represent extreme racial conditions and diametrically opposed world views. The Judge espouses the white, conservative cause while Sherman moves toward the black, reformist position over the course of the novel. Appropriately, the Judge uses language to maintain social hierarchy, whereas Sherman employs specific words to break down this hierarchy. McCullers sets two additional men, J.T. Malone and Jester Clane, in a more nebulous region between the peripheries. Unlike the Judge and Sherman, who use language to sustain and destroy Southern hegemony, respectively, J.T. and Jester share more individualistic motivations. J.T. uses words to denounce his identity as a dying man; Jester uses words to construct his identity as a learned, cosmopolitan liberal in a racially contentious national climate.
In 1979, French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard articulated what he called the “postmodernist condition”...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 747 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4495 literature essays, 1451 sample college application essays, 183 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in