The characters in Oscar and Lucinda present many different methods for seeking knowledge, truth, or a sense of world order. Conflicting methods are a source of conflict among them. How do vision, naturalism, empiricalism, religion, and literalism, as methods of knowledge, combine and conflict in the novel? Do these approaches to knowledge and truth conflict with the self-reflexivity and subjectivity suggested by the last three quotes listed? Do Oscar's and Lucinda's approaches to truth and knowledge relate to the self reflexivity or lack thereof displayed by their failure to understand perceptions of themselves in the context of society?

  1. Oscar objects when his father names the Indian Yellow stone, and calls his father "an agent of false instruction" (29-32).
  2. Ms Stratton wishes "to question whether divine grace is directly given or whether it must be sought from scripture" (59).
  3. Betty Cross, who "had no position, belonged to no party, advocated no schism, and cared only to find out what the 'truth' might be. She sought for the absolute and could not find it. She had no prejudice to anchor herself to..." (38).
  4. "Is it true, Hopkins, that you are a literalist... yes, of course... have you ever seen a starfish? Under the microscope, in cross section? Do you not think God created the starfish?" "Of course"... "Then having balaam's ass speak, even in Greek, would be a comparitively easy thing to achieve" (98).
  5. There is an unusual break in which the narrator reveals Rupert drops (108).
  6. The Reverend Hasset is described as vain, his vanity like a bettle to be obseved, and is carried out in the same manner; "even while he stetched a leg to reveal a black wool ankle he was describing himself to himself, just as he might press his eye to his microscope and detail the mandibles of the colonial dragon.. this was his great stregth. It was his great weakness too, an excess of detachment from life" (115).
  7. Oscar "worked, was astonished, not for the first time, at the infinite complexity of Creation, wondering how this thing, this intrument for seeing, couild transmit so clearly its entreaty while at the same time- Look, I am only an eye-denying that it was doing anything of the sort." (122).

Last modified 1 March 2004