(In the school chapel)
Around me the students move with faces
frozen in solemn masks, and I seem to hear already the voices
mechanically raised in the songs the visitors loved. (Loved? Demanded.
Sung? An ultimatum accepted and ritualized, an allegiance recited
for the peace it imparted, and for that perhaps loved. Loved as the
defeated come to love the symbols of their conquerors. A gesture of
acceptance, of terms laid down and reluctantly approved.) And here,
sitting rigid, I remember the evenings spent before the sweeping
platform in awe and in pleasure, and in the pleasure of awe; remember
the short formal sermons intoned from the pulpit there, rendered in
smooth articulate tones, with calm assurance purged of that wild
emotion of the crude preachers most of us knew in our home towns and
of whom we were deeply ashamed, these logical appeals which reached us
more like the thrust of a firm and formal design requiring nothing
more than the lucidity of uncluttered periods, the lulling movement of
multisyllabic words to thrill and console us. And I remember, too, the
talks of visiting speakers, all eager to inform us of how fortunate we
were to be a part of the “vast” and formal ritual. How fortunate to
belong to this family sheltered from those lost in ignorance and
(Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man)
I am not familiar with the English past participle usages and phrases used as supplementation. I suspect, but am not quite sure, that the two are mixed at the highlighted part. Would you explain the constructions?
This discourse is structured on quite different principles than those of conventional syntax or conventional rhetoric — in fact, you see Ellison explicitly repudiating traditional syntax and rhetoric in the bitter irony of those logical appeals which reached us more like the thrust of a firm and formal design requiring nothing more than the lucidity of uncluttered periods, the lulling movement of multisyllabic words to thrill and console us.
The passage is developed in the same way a jazz musician improvises on a banal “standard” tune. The conventional description of the scene provides a controlling structure, but from the outset Ellison permits himself to tweak the convention with sarcastic ‘blue’ notes – frozen, mechanical. In the parenthesis he takes up the key notes of the melody, sing and love, and with growing passion repudiates these wholly stereotyped emotional values, something like this:
The songs are loved? – No, they are demanded …
The songs are sung? – No, not songs sung but an ultimatum accepted, an allegiance recited …
The songs are loved – Yes, as the defeated come to love …
And now he’s off and running, reshaping the melody, redrawing the scene in the form suggested by his own experience.
The governing principle is not the formal logic of syntax but the emotional logic of the author’s response.
Source : Link , Question Author : Listenever , Answer Author : StoneyB on hiatus