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)

Samperio’s She lived in a Story is much like Don Quixote has a very unique time sequence. The author and characters within the story are subjected to a relative and current timeline in which the reality tends to follow. However the confusing aspect of the timeline is how they are all integrated at the very same precise moment as each character’s action affects the other. We get a sense of this when Sevogia sits in front of his typewriter and writes about Ofelia who at the same exact moment leaves the movie theater and begins her trek home. On the same note the timeline also affects Samperio, who is Sevogia, and his actions as he walks through his home and eventually meets up with a woman who is like Ofelia outside of a park bench. The timeline between the characters remain a persistent constant in which time flows at the same precise moments as do the characters.

In Don Quixote, Don Quixote and Sancho discover that they are characters of a book written by an Arab Moor. Cervantes states:

“It is said that in the original manuscript of this history one reads that when Cide Hamete came to write this chapter his translator did not render it as the Moor had written it, with some sort of complaint against himself for having undertaken such a dry and limited history about Don Quixote” (Cervantes Book II Chapter I).

However at this point we discover that Don Quixote doubts the translation provided by the Moor in question. It was discussed in class that there were other authors who wrote about Cervantes’ Don Quixote and adapted to their own story. Cervantes brings it up in the second book which follows the first after a few years of hiatus. He offers the audience a look in to the real translation of Don Quixote as he is the real translator and scribe of the history of Don Quixote. Cervantes gives himself the chance to justify his own writing and denounce any sort of following with the other authors’ material.

As Jahn has stated, narrative time is not linear. We can see this through Book II Chapter XIII in Don Quixote. His adventure through the cave has supposedly lapsed through a little more than an hour in real time but Don Quixote’s adventures through the cave through his narrative perspective has lapsed many days and nights over. This particular excerpt below allows us to see the difference of linear time through each character’s perspective after Don Quixote tells of his adventure through the cave to Sancho and his cousin.

“I cannot understand, Senor Don Quixote,” remarked the cousin
here, “how it is that your worship, in such a short space of time as
you have been below there, could have seen so many things, and said
and answered so much.”

“How long is it since I went down?” asked Don Quixote.

“Little better than an hour,” replied Sancho.

“That cannot be,” returned Don Quixote, “because night overtook me
while I was there, and day came, and it was night again and day
again three times; so that, by my reckoning, I have been three days in
those remote regions beyond our ken.”

“My master must be right,” replied Sancho; “for as everything that
has happened to him is by enchantment, maybe what seems to us an
hour would seem three days and nights there.”(Cervantes Book II Chapter XXIII)

Narrative Time

September 25, 2011

Jahn states that time in a narrative is not exactly linear. It can progress at various rates and trends to match the storyline. With this said, it can said that dialogue between the characters happen in real time however certain events can trigger a discrepancy in the timeline and time begins to speed up or slow down. This can be readily seen through all narratives i.e. Don Quixote, She Lived in a Story, etc. Jahn continues to state that there are different modes of the time that can be seen through out our various narratives; narrative present, historical present, gnomic present, and the synpotic present.

narrative present One of the two narrative tenses (see above). The narrative present foregrounds the story-NOW and backgrounds the discourse-NOW.
historical present A local present tense in a past tense context, usually producing an effect of immediacy or signaling a climax (perhaps comparable to the use of slow motion in film?).
The gnomic present/generic present presents (seemingly) common truths or statements claiming general validity, often in the form of a proverb. See Chatman (1978: 82); Stanzel (1984: 108); Wales (1989: 219, 375). Examples:
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. [Ironic gnomic statement used at the beginning of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.]
Tizzie Dunn was dead, too, and the Waters had gone back to England. Everything changes [gnomic present]. Now she was going to go away like the others, to leave her home. (Joyce, “Eveline”)
synoptic present Use of the present tense in a chapter summary, the title of a chapter, etc. “Mr. Pickwick journeys to Ipswich and meets with a romantic adventure” (Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, qtd. Stanzel 1982: 42). (Jahn 5.1.3)

Jahn’s Focalization

September 25, 2011

Manfred Jahn’s Narratology introduces the concept of focalization. It is the point of view of the narrator throughout the story. This literary device allows for transitions throughout the story and can give readers a better grasp of the background knowledge between the characters. It can also be used to help grasp the narrative in a different light; there can be more than one conscious train of thought that we as readers can follow through.

fixed focalization The presentation of narrative facts and events from the constant point of view of a single focalizer. The standard example is Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
variable focalization The presentation of different episodes of the story as seen through the eyes of several focalizers. For example, in Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, the narrative’s events are seen through the eyes of Clarissa Dalloway, Richard Dalloway, Peter Walsh, Septimus Warren Smith, Rezia Smith, and many other internal focalizers.
multiple focalization A technique of presenting an episode repeatedly, each time seen through the eyes of a different (internal) focalizer. Typically, what is demonstrated by this technique is that different people tend to perceive or interpret the same event in radically different fashion. Texts that are told by more than one narrator (such as epistolary novels) create multiple focalization based on external focalizers (example: Fowles, The Collector). See Collier (1992b) for a discussion of multiple internal focalization in Patrick White’s The Solid Mandala.
collective focalization Focalization through either plural narrators (‘we narrative’) or a group of characters (‘collective reflectors’). See Stanzel (1984: 172); Banfield (1982: 96). Example:
A small crowd meanwhile had gathered at the gates of Buckingham Palace. Listlessly, yet confidently, poor people all of them, they waited; looked at the Palace itself with the flag flying; at Victoria, billowing on her mount, admired the shelves of running water, her geraniums; singled out from the motor cars in the Mall first this one, then that […]. (Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway)(Jahn N3.2)