Monday or Tuesday by Virginia Woolf
In Monday or Tuesday by Virginia Woolf we have the theme of writing, insecurity, confusion and struggle. Taken from her The Complete Shorter Fiction collection the story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Woolf may be exploring the theme of writing and the difficulties that can come when a writer sets out to write a story. There is a sense that the narrator is lost for words. They can describe the heron at the beginning of the story with ease as they are not so much interested in it but incur difficultly with the everyday life around them. It is as though the narrator is trying to piece together snippets or words or phrases that they can use in a story. Though what they see in everyday life is uninspiring to them. The narrator does however allow for their imagination to take control. Something that is noticeable when the narrator describes the dome on the cathedral as being red. When the reality may be no more than the fact that the sun is shining on the dome of the cathedral. Similarly with the coins in the tress. It is possible that the narrator is simply comparing the leaves on the trees to coins. To enhance what she sees in order to be able to write something.
The fact that while the narrator is in the coffee shop they cannot seem to draw anything from their experience in the shop may suggest that the narrator is too familiar with the setting of the coffee shop. If anything the narrator needs to step outside her comfort zone to a world that she is not familiar with and one which will allow for her mind to roam. It is a only then that the narrator may feel as though she has something worthy to write about. If anything the reader senses that the narrator is taking a stroll through an environment that they are used to. This will not help them when it comes to their writing. It also seems to be a case that the narrator longs to give some truth to their writing yet they do not know how to go about this. They knows through their observations that they have not found what they are looking for but appear to have no alternative to work from.
The title of the story may also be symbolically important as the reality may be that the narrator does not know what day it is. They have spent all their time trying to figure out how to write about something that is the truth. Yet they are more confused than ever. There is also no doubting that the narrator has ideas that they could write about however they do not seem to be able able to piece them together. Where some writers are able to write freely with little or no outside influence this does not appear to be the case for the narrator. They have a deep need to be triggered by something they have seen. Something that most likely has to be based on something that is the truth. From that vantage point the narrator is able to progress with their writing. Throughout the story there is also a sense that the narrator is struggling. They cannot latch onto any one idea or observation and start writing. Whereas other writers would have no difficulty in doing so. If anything Woolf may be highlighting the hardships that some writers face.
The end of the story is also interesting as it is possible that at the end of the day the narrator is despondent. The story that the narrator wants to write is described as being the ‘fallen book.’ With Woolf using the imagery of the fire to suggest that the book has been burnt and will not be written. However it is interesting that the narrator gets inspired as they are sitting by the fire. However as to whether the narrator finds the truth they are looking for and which will be the drive for their writing is difficult to say. As there is no change in the narrator’s mood at the end of the story. They appear to remain as insecure about their writing ability as they were from the beginning of the story. Which may be the point that Woolf is attempting to make. She may be suggesting that all writers at some time in the career doubt their abilities. Considering what they have written to be of no value. It is also possible that Woolf is suggesting that writers think differently to other people. Constantly trying to strive for a vision of what it is they see around them. A vision that may not be a direct picture of what the writer sees but still one that others can see and understand and which is the truth.