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Chuck’s theory is that the Safety’s reemergence is part of an oozing conservatism observable in every facet of the elevator industry, from this season’s minimalist cab designs to the return of the sturdy T-rail after the ill-fated flirtation with round, European guardrails. Says he. Been too many changes in the Guild over the last few years—just look at the messy rise of Intuitionism, or the growing numbers of women and colored people in the Guild, shoot, just look at Lila Mae, flux itself, three times cursed.

This is from Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist. While I'm reading this book, I found that the author often wrote what characters said or thought without quotation marks and it confused me sometimes. Do you think the bolded sentence here is what Chuck said so that it didn't make any difference if it was put in the double quotation marks?

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I found that the author often wrote what characters said or thought without quotation marks

This is called free indirect speech, although in this case it's almost made direct speech by the presence of "Says he." as a sentence fragment immediately preceding it. It would only take a comma and a couple of quote marks to turn this particular instance of free indirect speech into direct speech:

Chuck’s theory is that the Safety’s reemergence is part of an oozing conservatism observable in every facet of the elevator industry, from this season’s minimalist cab designs to the return of the sturdy T-rail after the ill-fated flirtation with round, European guardrails. Says he , " Been too many changes in the Guild over the last few years—just look at the messy rise of Intuitionism, or the growing numbers of women and colored people in the Guild, shoot, just look at Lila Mae, flux itself, three times cursed. "

For more detailed information on free indirect speech, with more illustrative examples, you can see this Wikipedia page or this Literature SE answer.

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