13 September 2011
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.
Jahn, Manfred. Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative. English Department, University of Cologne. 2005. Website.
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.