Writing Response 1

Anthony Bianco

Professor Alvarez

ENGL 363

13 September 2011

Focalizing Reality

In Guillermo Samperio’s, “She Lived in a Story”, poor focalization is responsible for misconstruing reality from writing throughout the reading. The internal and external focalizations of Segovia and Ofelia contribute to the growing confusion as the story progresses. As Samperio delves deeper and deeper into the stories of his characters, the more difficult it becomes to keep track of who is exactly writing about whom. At one point, Ofelia goes as far as bringing up Samperio himself, acknowledging that Samperio is indeed writing a story within a story. Ofelia writes:

It occurs to me that I should write that likely the man’s name is Guillermo, he has a beard, a long straight nose. It could be Guillermo Segovia, the writer, who at the same time lives as another Guillermo Segovia. Guillermo Segovia in Guillermo Samperio, each inside the other, a single body. I insist on thinking that he writes with his typewriter precisely what I write, word upon word, only one discourse and two worlds. Guillermo writes a story that is too pretentious; the central character could have my name. I write that he writes a story that I live in. (Samperio 60)

The omniscient narrator describing Segovia’s lecture, history, and drive home in the beginning of the story is an external focalizer, supposedly describing reality. The story then proceeds to Segovia writing about Ofelia’s walk home as a second external focalizer. It is only until this second external focalizer transitions to Ofelia speaking her mind that the reader begins to understand something is out of place.  The story now changes point of view towards an internal focalizer, Ofelia. She senses that she is being watched, leaving the reader to think whether Ofelia or Segovia is the protagonist. This shift in focalization throws the reader off course and is forced to succumb to the challenge Samperio lays ahead. As she continues to write about her recent experiences, Ofelia proceeds to take on the role of an external focalizer by narrating Segovia’s life. In a way, the story has come full circle in the sense that Segovia began writing about Ofelia who is now writing about her own creator. “A text is anchored on a focalizer’s point of view when it presents (and does not transcend) the focalizer’s thoughts, reflections and knowledge, his/her actual and imaginary perceptions, as well as his/her cultural and ideological orientation (Jahn N 3.2.2). Samperio’s defiance of this rule is the main reason for confusion towards the end of the story. The readers witness a transition from focusing on Ofelia’s personal feelings to solely narrating Segovia’s actions inside of his home, indicating that she is now in control of Segovia’s destiny. Ofelia’s text has transcended her own personal thoughts, leaving the audience confused as to whether Segovia’s writing of Ofelia’s story was a reality. This notion of parallel worlds exceeds even farther when Ofelia brings Samperio himself into the picture. It’s as if Ofelia is aware that the actual author of “She Live in a Story” is transcending everything as a whole. Although it is unclear as to whether Segovia is in control of his own destiny or not, he is willing to push the boundaries by pointing a gun at himself. He then realizes that he is facing reality. However, the focalization of Ofelia’s writing remains unclear throughout the story.

Works Cited

Jahn, Manfred. Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative. English Department,          University of Cologne. 2005. Website.

http://www.uni-koeln.de/~ame02/pppn.htm

Samperio, Guillermo. El hombre de las llaves: She Lived in a Story. Trans. Russel M. Cluff and L. Howard Quackenbush. Mexico 1992: 54-62 Print.

Print Friendly

One thought on “Writing Response 1

  1. Nice job with the PIE paragraphy Anthony, but it looks a little short for two pages (at least). You could add about four or five more lines to the P section I think, introducing the quote and also the idea of focalization. I was glad to see, however, that you focused on this critical term, and that you used it as a critical lens for this brief piece of writing.

    As for the content here: I’m not sure what you mean by “poor” focalization? How can it be poor? You mean out of focus? And I think I see what you mean, but I would also recommend going deeper into potential definitions of focalization on your blog, and giving some close readings of Jahn. As this response was really too short to do that, I can tell that you need some more work with the terms in order to develop a fluidity with them. Knowing how to use the terms (and practice with them) will help you to develop deeper interpretations to the texts, as well as a critical vocabulary which will permit you to sound like a scholar–to to join their conversations.

    Below, I quoted from your E section, and I added some comments in CAPs:

    “The omniscient narrator HETERODIEGETIC NARRATOR? describing Segovia’s lecture, history, and drive home in the beginning of the story is an external focalizer, GOOD: SEEING FROM OUTSIDE THE LIMITED POV OF ONE OF THE NARRATIVE’S CHARACTERS, THE “GOD’S EYE VIEW” supposedly SUPPOSEDLY? WELL I GUESS IN THE SENSE THAT ALL NARRATORS REPRESENT A ‘SUPPOSED’ REPRESENTATION OF REALITY, BUT WHY THAT TERM? describing reality. The story then proceeds to Segovia writing about Ofelia’s walk home as a second external focalizer. THIS SEEMS PROBLEMATIC? WHAT DO YOU MEAN BE A SECOND? HOW CAN TWO POVS HAPPEN SIMULTANEOUSLY? OR HOW DOES THE TEXT ATTEMPT TO GIVE THE ILLUSION THAT THIS IS POSSIBLE? It is only until this second external focalizer transitions to Ofelia speaking her mind that the reader begins to understand something is out of place. SO THEN I THINK YOU’RE SAYING IS THAT THERE’S A SUDDEN SHIFT IN FOCALIZATION, BUT DOES IT REMAIN EXTERNAL OR GO INTERNAL? OR DOES IT ALWAYS REMAIN STABLE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF “THE EYE” HINTED AT IN THE TEXT? The story now changes point of view towards an internal focalizer, Ofelia. OKAY, BUT WHAT ARE THE INDICATORS? PRONOUNS? She senses that she is being watched, leaving the reader to think whether Ofelia or Segovia is the protagonist. This shift in focalization throws the reader off course and is forced to succumb to the challenge Samperio lays ahead. As she continues to write about her recent experiences, Ofelia proceeds to take on the role of an external focalizer by narrating Segovia’s life. SO NOW SHE’S BACK TO EXTERNAL? AGAIN, DOES SHE SHIFT FROM “I” TO “SHE” TO “HE”? In a way, the story has come full circle in the sense that Segovia began writing about Ofelia who is now writing about her own creator. “A text is anchored on a focalizer’s point of view when it presents (and does not transcend) the focalizer’s thoughts, reflections and knowledge, his/her actual and imaginary perceptions, as well as his/her cultural and ideological orientation (Jahn N 3.2.2). GOOD USE OFJAHN HERE. Samperio’s defiance of this rule is the main reason for confusion towards the end of the story. WHY DO YOU CALL THIS A DEFIANCE? DOESN’T HE USE FOCALIZATION IN THE SAME WAY, BUT IN A MORE COMPLEX MANNER? IT WOULD BE VERY DIFFICULT TO DEFY FOCALIZATION The readers witness a transition from focusing on Ofelia’s personal feelings to solely narrating Segovia’s actions inside of his home, indicating that she is now in control of Segovia’s destiny. MAYBE YOU MEAN THE DEFIANCE OF A SINGLE POV THAT NARRATES EVERYTHING RATHER THAN A ROVING POINT OF VIEW THAT MOVES BETWEEN CHARACTERS AND NARRATIVE LEVELS. Ofelia’s text has transcended her own personal thoughts, leaving the audience confused as to whether Segovia’s writing of Ofelia’s story was a reality. WELL IT’S ALL FICTION ISN’T IT? THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN FICTION AND NON-FICTION IS WHAT HAPPENS IN DON QUIXOTE, AND THAT’S WHAT MAKES THAT FIRST NOVEL EXPERIMENTAL: THE INVENTION OF THE FICTIONAL HISTORY. This notion of parallel worlds exceeds even farther when Ofelia brings Samperio himself into the picture. It’s as if Ofelia is aware that the actual author of “She Live in a Story” is transcending everything as a whole. Although it is unclear as to whether Segovia is in control of his own destiny or not, he is willing to push the boundaries by pointing a gun at himself. He then realizes that he is facing reality. WHAT REALITY? ISN’T HE STILL IN THE WORLD OF THE NARRATIVE? REMEMBER NOT TO THINK BEYOND THE TEXT’S ILLUSION OF REALITY, UNLESS THE CHARACTER ACTUALLY POPS OUT OF THE BOOK TO SHAKE YOUR HAND OR SOMETHING. However, the focalization of Ofelia’s writing remains unclear throughout the story.”

    The MLA is just off: first you didn’t include the date you last accessed the Jahn, and the web address, as well as the designation “website” are not correct. For the Samperio, you’re missing the title of the publication in which the story appears. You also gave a Spanish title for a different story. I took off points for those.

    4.5 out of 5 possible points.

Comments are closed.