2 October 2011
Eyes of a Blue Dog: An Unreliable Narrator
Gabriel García Márquez’s short story, “Eyes of a Blue Dog,” transcends our basic notions of the subconscious by delving into the surrealism of dreams and how these experiences impact our day-to-day lives. Through the use of a lucid dream realm, Márquez romantically connects two souls that can only interact while in this state of mind. However, once both characters awake, only the female is aware of the events that took place in the dream. Similar to how we dream about something we desire, Márquez touches upon this subject through means of striving for someone that we cannot attain.
And she, with a sad smile – which was already a smile of surrender to the impossible, the unreachable—said: “Yet you won’t remember anything during the day.” And she put her hands back over the lamp, her features darkened by a bitter cloud. “You’re the only man who doesn’t remember anything of what he’s dreamed after he wakes up.” (Márquez 57)
The irony of this situation is that both characters demonstrate such strong feelings for each other, yet they are incapable of acting upon them because the male forgets about the female once he is awake. On the other hand, the female goes to great lengths in order to reach out to her dream lover. From muttering the “eyes of a blue dog” phrase all over town to scripting it on a pharmacy’s clean tile floor with lipstick, the female proves to be obsessed with finding the man of her dreams. She appears to be fully aware of her efforts to find the male until she fails to remember what town she advertised the phrase in. It’s as if she is doubting herself, leaving the reader to think that she, along with the male, are perhaps dreaming each other up out of loneliness. They are both unaware of what is real and what is not anymore. Another possibility is that the male is the only one dreaming since he is the only one narrating and taking part in the story. Perhaps the dreams are a product of his loneliness and this serves as a way of temporarily filling in that empty void – hence his laps of memory once he wakes up. It could be nothing more than a subconscious fixation devised for the sole purpose of fighting off his loveless lifestyle. Not to mention, all of the information that the reader is given is from the male’s point of view. Therefore, the possibility of the male being unreliable is fairly high. Jahn states:
A narrator “whose rendering of the story and/or commentary on it the reader has reasons to suspect. […] The main sources of unreliability are the narrator’s limited knowledge, his personal involvement, and his problematic value-scheme” (Rimmon-Kenan 1983: 100). Many first-person narrators are unreliable. (Jahn N7.6)
The idea of the woman being a completely made up character is rather unsettling because of how in depth he describes the woman striving to acquire his presence in her life. Although it may not be the case, the reader will never have a definite answer because according to Jahn, “most first-person narrators are unreliable,” leaving the reader skeptical as to whether he/she can rely on the male’s claims. His personal involvement in the story indicates that there is some sort of bias present in the narration. All of the facts are clearly not present and the woman has yet to tell her part for herself, provided she even exists. Lastly, when the female acknowledges that her counterpart will never remember anything once he awakes, it conveys a sense of self-realization that his chances of finding love are minimal because he is the one imagining her. He is talking to himself through her and relying on something that will never come to fruition because she simply is not there.
Jahn, Manfred. “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative.” Poems, Plays, and Prose: A Guide to the Theory of Literary Genres. Cologne: U of Cologne Press, 2002. <http://www.uni-koeln.de/~ame02/pppn.htm>
Márquez, Gabriel García. “Eyes of a Blue Dog.” Collected Stories Trans. Gregory Rabassa and J.S. Bernstein. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1984. 50-57. Print.