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I always assumed that the mechanical shell belonged to an old vintage Volkswagen beetle. What else could the characters in the People of Paper be referring to. One could only procure one from a mechanic and what else would a mechanic do than work upon cars? I thought it fitting that it would be compared to a tortoise, it’s shape and design allows for those inside to hide from those with prying eyes. The mention of a lead base also led me to believe that the shell to be old, it must be if it contained any essence of lead. I just realized that the shell is an extension of protection and Federico de la Fe utilizes them much like a hermit crab. 

Balthazar’s Marvelous Afternoon was a wonderful short story. It appears to me as if to be written for as a children’s story. It doesn’t contain any magic realistic elements and the homodigetic narrator remains the same throughout the short story. It contains a simple story in which Balthazar makes the best birdhouse ever that he wishes to charge for a large sum of money. His client requested the bird house to fit two large sized birds of the region. However once he brings the bird house to his client’s house it’s been made clear that the client was the young boy and the father did not commission the bird house at all. He refuses to accept the glorious bird house and his son tries his best to make sure the bird house stays. Balthazar’s changes his mind about the commission and gifts it to the man’s son and leaves. Although he leaves empty handed Balthazar walks away and enjoys the rest of the night. He realizes that although he has left empty-handed he left the most prosperous. His kind action has left a message to all those who watched the incident and he had orders to many bird houses. He realizes that good fortune has looked down upon him and he drinks the night away as a happy fool, conned for free drinks and his clothes and shoes have been stripped away from his unconscious body.

“He had spent so much that he had had to leave his watch in pawn, with the promise to pay the next day. A moment l ater, spread-eagled in the street, he realized that his shoes were being taken off, but he didn’t want to abandon the happiest dream of his life. The woman who passed on their way to five-o’clock Mass didn’t dare look at him, thinking he was dead.” (Garcia Marquez 146)

Ferderico de la Fe is one of the main characters in The People of Paper. he is solely responsible for the war against Saturn. This is due to his belief that the celestial being, Saturn. He believes that Saturn possesses the power to manipulate his fate and destiny and is the sole reason for his misfortune. This belief stems from his failure to control the midnight bed wetting that ultimately drives his wife away forever. His bitter resentment originally was directed to himself and he drowned in depression and anxiety. He overcomes this fear with burning his own flesh and letting the flames lick across his flesh. This allowed him to be distracted from his own crushing depression however the relief is short-lived as the depression always comes back. He gains a sudden insight of Saturn once he has a brief stay in a lead mechanical “tortoise” (I’m assuming it’s a Volkswagon Beetle). The lead acts as a shield from the prying eyes of Saturn and the heavenly eye cannot pierce through the lead shell. Ferderico de la Fe realizes this once he enters the shell and feels relief for once. Thus begins his campaign against Saturn.

“Federico de la Fe put his hand in the embers until it hurt so much that he could not feel his sadness and instead smelled only his singed flesh. After he wrapped his hand with an old scarf and rubbed on an ointment that the curandero had given him, he wrote down all the things the fire had cured: 1. itch 2. bed-wetting 3. sadness Federico de la Fe’s only regret was that he had not discovered fire ten years earlier. Every night, when the sun hid underneath the flat earth and Little Merced slept on the dry straw bed, Federico de la Fe went into the kitchen and lit the stove so his remorse would not return.”

The entire story of The People of Paper deal with magic realism. It takes place upon reality with more than supernatural inconsistencies. This could be seen through the everyday life and dialogue of Merced’s school life or Froggy’s carnation-picking lifestyle. However there also are magic realistic elements such as healing through fire, a race of extinct paper people, Merced de Papel, Antiono’s ability of paper-crafting and the war against Saturn. This is evident that these events are highly unlikely to occur in a realistic novel but Plascencia does a wonderful job incorporating these unique literary elements in to his story.

“She was the first to be created: cardboard legs, cellophane appendix, and paper breasts. Created not from the rib of a man but from paper scraps. There was no all-powerful god who could part the rivers of Pison and Gihon but instead a twice-retired old man with cuts across his fingers.” (Plascencia 15)

The very notion of a paper woman for example is improbable to say the least, however the characters throughout the story accept the anomaly once Merced de Papel is introduced in to the story. They also accept the notion that Saturn is the one responsible for all the misfortune that occurs in everyday life and thus a war against the celestial being would suffice and end his tyranny against mankind. There is no insight or depth of their actions but rather these characters that Plascencia develop thrive from the magic realistic elements of literary style.

The People of Paper has a weird structure of narrative time. It is not written particularly linear (although there are moments that it is), narrative time seems to flow (when needed) between all the characters at the same precise time. It does not have to occur often as there are points in the story in which time seems to follow one character in particular. The prose in the story adds to this effect; some of the characters’stories are written side by side as opposed to written in the traditional straight-forward form. This seems to imply that one particular character’s story is taking place at the same particular time as the other characters’ stories. This is evident through the first few chapters in which Saturn, Merced, Mechanic, Merced de Papel, etc. are all speaking at the same time. Their narrative time is within their each perspective sphere and although the stories are separate, they each add to the narrative as a whole. We get a better impression of what is occurring or will occur or has occurred based upon this unique narrative structure. This is evident through the different narrators that share their thoughts and experience. For example, the wetting of the bed through Federico de la Fe and Merced’s interpretation allows us to see how Federico de la Fe developed his fire complex and why Merced’s mother had left Federico de la Fe. This particular structure is reminiscent of the acappella style of music in which various different harmonies and voices add to the song as a whole even if they are different parts of the song.

The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia utilizes a very radical narrative structure that is uncommon if not unique to contemporary writing. He sits various points of views and narrators side by side or in succession in which he depicts what occurs to the character and his or her surrounding in question. Jahn can describe the narrative in The People of Paper as utilizing both the heterodiegetic and homodiegetic narratives;

In a homodiegetic narrative–, the story is told by a (homodiegetic) narrator who is present as a character in the story. The prefix ‘homo-‘ points to the fact that the individual who acts as a narrator is also a character on the level of action. A special case of homodiegetic narration is autodiegetic narration, in which the narrator is the protagonist of his/her story.
In a heterodiegetic narrative–, the story is told by a (heterodiegetic) narrator who is not present as a character in the story. The prefix ‘hetero-‘ alludes to the ‘different nature’ of the narrator’s world as compared to the world of the action.

Plascencia’s use of heterodiegetic and homodiegetic narratives fit seamlessly together in The People of Paper. This is evident through the first few chapters of the story. The characters individual points of view and stories may differ but it fits together as a whole. There are also inconsistencies which are covered by the homodiegetic narrator, particularly the creation and description of Mirced de Papel’s creation by the old man, Antonio. (Plascencia Prologue) This in turn shifts to various heterodiegetic narrators who all have various separate events and points of view which may not have any connection with each other’s events but all connect as a whole. Thisi can be seen through the particular bus ride that takes place in Chapter I.

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings conveys a huge sense of magic realism. The fallen old man with buzzard like wings is automatically accepted as part of the social norm after his discovery. His wings are also accepted as part of his body. They are built so naturally that the doctor left with a sense of wonderment on why men did not have wings just as natural as the old man’s.

“The doctor who took care of the child couldn’t resist the temptation to listen to the angel’s heart, and he found so much whistling in the heart and so many sounds in his kidneys that it seemed impossible for him to be alive. What surprised him most, however, was the logic of his wings. They seemed so natural on that completely human organism that he couldn’t understand why other men didn’t have them too.” (Marquez 210)

The same sense is conveyed with the spider-woman; body of a spider the size of a ram with the head of a woman. Her story although fantastical, is also accepted without a doubt. Marquez plays with the social realism as he integrates these fantastical characters as a part of the norm of everyday life after the angel is captured and forced to live in the hen house. He does this well as he humanizes the angel and the spider-woman. This is done by characterizing the characters with human-like qualities. For the angel, he is introduced and emphasized upon his qualities as a very old and possibly senile old man. His very physique betrays his title as an angel; once the reader pasts the wings we realize that the angel is simply an old man with wings. This applies to the spider-woman as well as her story justifies her very existence. The very act that she takes to disobey her parents and leave for a dance has literally struck her down with lightning and changed her very being. Her misfortune is a very humane punishment and is conveyed through the magic realism of spiritual and physical conversion. She is human in a mental sense but as we get past the physical traits, we are hard pressed to differentiate her as such.

Nabo, our protagonist loses his sense of narrative time; he’s stuck in a particular mentality and assumes that its only been a few moments and at most a few days since his accident. However we as the audience realizes that its been quite a while since the accident and that he’s been stricken and ill and locked up after the accident. He has lost himself to the moment while time flows forward.

“That’s right, Nabo, you’ve slept enough already. You’ve been asleep for almost three days.(Marquez 69)…We’re waiting for you, Nabo. You’ve been asleep for almost two years and you refuse to get up.” (Marquez 70)

He is stuck in an analepsis; a flashback or retrospection in which he is living quite within that particular moment. He does not comprehend that time has moved forward. We’re given cues that time has moved without Nabo; the horses are no longer in the stables and the man from the choir later states that it’s been two years since the accident. Nabo however is stuck in this retrospection and believes that by looking for particular things and memories, he can justify everything that has occurred to him after the horse kicking him in the head. This is evident in all the actions that occur around him. I.E. Rolling on his side, talking to his visitors and caretakers, listening to the gramophone, etc. It is also interesting to note that his conception of time has been distorted. It mixes his past and present together and Nabo can’t make any headway and progress forward. The people around him initially do not recognize this and try to get him to move forward and away from the incident by locking him up in the attic. However as the short story progresses and much time has passed by, Nabo is still stuck at the moment after the horse kicked him in the head. This is evident as years and years pass by him, Nabo is still stuck about being kicked in the head.The man that appears before Nabo is none other than the man with the saxophone in which Nabo used to visit in the town square. After his disappearance he suddenly appears before Nabo and request him to join the choir. The choir is the next step after life but Nabo can’t progress because he’s still alive and stuck in the eternity after the accident. Nabo’s stuck in an endless loop. The time of the story appears in different levels as Nabo, the girl, the man/angel, and the people are all integrated together in one continuous timeline but with various narrative times. Towards the end of the short story Nabo begins to progress as he realizes that all that has occurred has been because of the comb. He begins to bargain with the angel and the angel allows him to search for the comb although its been many years since Nabo’s been in the stables. His release from his confinements allows Nabo to frantically search for the reason behind his accident and his purgatory-like state. He is no longer living in a suspended state but has begun to move forward in search of the comb.

Eyes of a Blue Dog was a text similar to Samperio’s She Lived in a Story. The two protagonists that we are introduced to in the story are dreamers who chance upon a room within a dream. They are currently living within the dream as they meet on a regular basis; the narrator however has no recollection of meeting the woman in reality after they awake. The short novella develops the story based upon dream logic; reality does not have any affect upon the dream. The dream is but a quickly fading and forgotten memory.

“I’ll recognize you when on the street I see a woman writing ‘Eyes of a blue dog’ on the walls…Yet you won’t remember anything during the day. You’re the only man who doesn’t remember anything of what he’s dreamed after he wakes up.” (Marquez 57)

The woman leaves particular cues for the dreamer to find her in reality if he can recall this dream; the woman for example writes “eyes of a blue dog” in every place she chances upon. However when our narrator awakes he no longer recollects the dream and the cue is lost to him. There is also no guarantee that the dreamer’s “copper” woman actually exists and making a subconscious connection with the narrator in the dream; instead the dreamer is unreliable, for all I know the dreamer could be simply dreaming the woman in all her entirety and her odd nature and behavioral cues.

Upon reading Dialogue with the Mirror, I was immediately intrigued by the title. Dialogue with the Mirror is an interesting title for the short novella by Garcia Marquez. Contrary to the title, the entire novella does not contain any traditional and standard dialogue contained between quotations. Rather the dialogue is the interaction between the man and the man in the mirror; the actions the man does is copied and reacted upon by the imitation. Another point of interest is when the narrator speaks, it shifts perspectives from an omnipotent speaker to the man interacting with the mirror. It is a seamless flow between the two and as the reader, I myself find myself lost between differential between the two. The initial introduction for example is spoken by a third-person narrator and is shifted to the thoughts of the man that the narrator was describing; the focalization changes between an external focalizer to an internal focalizer and back. The focalization changes constantly as the short novella continues. It contains free-indirect discourse; it switches between a homodiegetic and heterodiegetic narrator.

“He smiled. (It smiled.) He showed-to himself- his tongue. (It showed – to the real one – its tongue.) The one in the mirror had a pasty, yellow tongue: “Your stomach is upset,” he diagnosed (a wordless expression) with a grimace. He smiled again. (It smiled again.) But now he could see that there was something stupid, artificial, and false in the smile that was returned to him. He smoothed his hair (it smoothed its hair) with his right hand (left hand), returning the bashful smile at once (and disappearing.) He was surprised at his own behavior, standing in front of the mirror and making faces like an idiot. Nevertheless, he thought that everybody behaved the same way in front of a mirror and his indignation was greater then with the certainty that since the world was idiotic, he was only rendering tribute to vulgarity. Eight-seventeen.” (Marquez 43)