Anyone who breathes has experienced moments that leave an undeniable stain on their being. Whether good or bad, such moments can stick to people like gum underneath a shoe. In Moments of Being, Woolf experiences one such moment. Having the time of her life on a fishing trip with her father and brother, the fun leads to tragedy as her father reveals he no longer wishes to indulge in fishing. Woolf too loses her passion for fishing. Woolf uses description, tone, and metaphoric language to show the moment is always by her side like a faithful watchdog.
As Woolf relives a memorable day, she practically punishes the reader with descriptive language to show just how eventful it really was. Recalling Thoby’s “blue eyes” and the “streaming hair” of the jellyfish, Moments of Being almost forces the reader to feel what Woolf did; to experience the misty breeze aboard a ship and the stickiness of the sea. Woolf almost memorizes the affair because of how much it meant to her. She was away from her village in Cornwall and was able to bond and “hang about” with her father out on the vast ocean.
Woolf also uses descriptive language to describe the lasting impact her father’s words had on her. Having had her passion for fishing “extinguished,” Woolf learned that life can be as capricious as a trip to the casino. Sometimes, one can even go home broke. Additionally, with the changes in scenery from Cornwall to London, a change in the tone that Woolf conveys can also be seen. Using words with a positive connotation such as “passion” and “excitement” cannot even come close to the euphoria and bliss Woolf felt out on the sea with her father.
However, as the fire that burned inside her for fishing was slowly smothered, the tone of the excerpt drops like a sack of potatoes. Her “acute” passion for fishing soon became a distant memory. Although Woolf had been taught the “perfect lesson,” she could not help but imagine fishing, seeing it only with “momentary glimpses” as nostalgia overtook her. Like the life of the fish she caught, Woolf had one thing that she held dear taken from her, and she would never get it back. With many people, a memory from childhood may seem as distant as a shell swept away by the ocean tide.
Woolf, however, remembers vividly the fishing trip with her father and brother. The significance of this trip on her memories is shown by Woolf’s use of metaphors which emphasizes her fluctuating feelings. This emphasis is seen when she describes catching a “white twisting fish” when it was “slapped on the floor. ” To describe this simple act so descriptively allows the image to shine a light on her own being. Perhaps she herself felt suffocated like the fish did. The “invaluable seeds” were set as the main metaphor of the piece. Often one has to make do with seeds” accentuates the attitude of an adult who essentially gives up on an aspect in their life to follow another. These seeds represent the growth of the passion Woolf had for fishing, but because of her dad’s comments, Woolf’s passion was extinguished. She describes growing these seeds as representing others’ experiences. The nurturing given to a plant will be based on the gardener’s desire. For Woolf, her dad seemed to be that gardener. In the final analysis, Woolf conveys the significance moments from her past had on her as accurately as an arrow from an archer.
Suffocating the reader with descriptive language, tone changes, and metaphors forces the reader not only to understand why Woolf remembered those moments, but also to think of their own moments. These moments, as stated by the title, literally are moments of being. From every lamp-like jellyfish to every twisting gurnard and dab, Woolf shows the world that even though the action has left her side, the memory never will. SOURCE: All quotes are from Moments of Being by Virginia Woolf, published in 1976.