Dec 20 2011

Final Artical

Published by

John Rodriguez

Professor Steven Alvarez

English 363

15 December 2011

“Magical Realism by Default: Analyzing the Composition of Hispanic Literature in Guillermo Samperio’s “She Lived in a Story” and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Eyes of a Blue Dog”.

Introduction

Latin American Literature experienced a boom in the mid 20th century. Since then, scholars have debated as to what defines Literature to be Latin American. Like in all genres; patterns, ideas, and themes, uniquely identify with one another creating a distinctive group. The different Elements of focalization go one step further into discovering what really characterizes Latin American Literature.

A constant ideology that is always associated with Latin American Literature is Romanticism. It is a typical stereotype that is guaranteed to be incorporated in Hispanic Literature. Both Guillermo Samperio’s “She Lived in a Story” and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Eyes of a Blue Dog”, are classical examples of romantic Hispanic Literature. Through focalization, the reader can experience what the protagonist experiences through his/her own eyes. It showcases to the reader what the character deems is important.

Manfred Jahn’s “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative”, classifies focalization which has the ability to assert a conspiracy. The point of view of a story is an essential element that determines the mood of a narrative as well as the induced feelings a reader will have towards certain characters. Jahn asserts there are four main forms or patterns of focalization. In Samperio’s “She Lived in a Story”, the central character Guillermo Segovia, begins as the fixed focalizer. We as readers experience Segovia’s journey from his lecture to his home from his own perspective. As he began to write about Ofeila, the story shifted to Ofeila’s point of view allowing the reader to now sense her emotions and thoughts. These two different points of views are a primary example of variable focalization.

Every genre has an identical schematic. Romanticism seems to be at the heart of all Latin American Literature. By using Narratology and Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey”, in this article I argue the stereotype of all Latin American Literature must be magical realism.

Focalization and Narrative Point of View in Samperio

Guillermo Samperio’s She Lived in a Story plays with the characters consciousness and awareness.

When she turned into the alley where her house was, she could feel the enormous eye on her hair, her face, her scarf, her sweater, her slacks. She stopped and felt a kind of dizziness similar to what you experience in a dream where you float unsupported and without any way of coming down… I’m afraid I can’t stop living in two worlds (Samperio p59-60).

This is an example of the stream of consciousness from Jahn’s narratology. I find it fascinating when the characharte realizes they are a part of something else rather then a constant flow of discourse. This “something else” they do not know or cannot explain, but this uncertainty and ambiguity lingers within their consciousness and they begin to question life and reality. Is this a dream? Am I real? Jahn states:

  • 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’). (Jahn N3.2.4)

In Samperio’s “She Lived in a Story”, the central character Guillermo Segovia, begins as the fixed focalizer. We as readers experience Segovia’s journey from his lecture to his home from his own perspective. As he began to write about Ofeila, the story shifted to Ofeila’s point of view allowing the reader to now sense her emotions and thoughts. These two different points of views are a primary example of variable focalization. This experience reminded me of the movie Vantage Point. This film is viewed from eight different “vantage points”, that are part of a puzzle that leads to the mysterious conclusion. These different points of view represent the variable focalization.

Guillermo Samperio’s She Lived in a Story plays with the characters consciousness and awareness.

When she turned into the alley where her house was, she could feel the enormous eye on her hair, her face, her scarf, her sweater, her slacks. She stopped and felt a kind of dizziness similar to what you experience in a dream where you float unsupported and without any way of coming down… I’m afraid I can’t stop living in two worlds (Samperio p59-60).

This is an example of the stream of consciousness from Jahn’s narratology. I find it fascinating when the character realizes they are a part of something else rather than a constant flow of discourse. This “something else” they do not know or cannot explain, but this uncertainty and ambiguity lingers within their consciousness and they begin to question life and reality. Is this a dream? Am I real?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPvZlsj4nfQ

In this film Inception, Characters plot to enter dreams to extract vital information from one’s mind. In this scence, Leonardo Decaprio explains this “genuine inspiration” that is developed in one’s unconscious. He states that in your dream you create and perceive simultaneously. This is exactly the idea that creates magical realism.

Guillermo Samperio’s “She Lived in a Story” is a mystifying story that left me questioning who was the real narrator. Was Ofelia in Segova’s world or was it vice-versa? Knowing that you are being watched has an unmistakable feeling of weighty darkness that is fixed inside your chest, which both these characters demonstrated. But the transitions of narration from Segova to Ofelia lead me to believe that Ofelia is the “Architect” and Segova was the fiction she created. Ofelia later begins to think:

                        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)

Guillermo Segovia has just entered Ofelia’s world and has become a fictional character in her story. The use of first person narration indicates who is in control of the story since we are only getting one point of view. Ofelia even gives Segovia character traits when she claims his story to be too pretentious.  For the rest of the story, Ofelia goes into detail describing every little act he takes giving him anxious paranormal feelings of being watched. In the end, her fictional character meets up with her in her story and she states: “he stops next to me; in silence, accepting our fatal destiny, he takes my hand and I am willing” (62). This clearly indicates she is the architect for the reason that she is the one who ultimately chooses her own fate.

 

I find this picture to be perfect in comparing it to Samperio’s story. Here we see the architect interacting with his creation. This is magical realism to the fullest.

Focalization in Garcia Marquez

Garcia Marquez’s narrative, Eyes of a Blue Dog, occurs within the combined dream reality of the two main characters.  It seems like these two individuals posses a bizarre and complex passion for each other but are restricted from internal desires due to the fact that they only encounter each other during their unconscious state of minds. This frustration that both characters experience leaves the reader inquiring about the relationship between conscious and unconscious worlds. Although the entire narrative occurs within an artificial realm that consists of many ambiguous implications, Marquez uses numerous vivid “life-like” descriptions that portray human emotions, ultimately offering realness to this dream. For example Marquez writes:

Sometimes, when I sleep on my heart, I can feel my body growing hollow and my skin is like plate. Then, when the blood beats inside me, it’s as if someone were calling by knocking on my stomach and I can feel my own copper sound in the bed (Marquez 52).

Throughout the entire narrative we understand its setting takes place within a dream thus are expecting unrealistic proceedings to transpire. However descriptions like these bestows the reader with a peculiar and somewhat disturbing sense of realism in this fantasy. The sound of blood beating within your body undoubtedly represents life, and this woman constantly acknowledges that she is alive within this dream. The description of her eyes is symbolic of her presence in the unconscious. They are interchangeably described as “hot-coal eyes” and “eyes of ash”.

In this picture you can see how the dog’s eyes represent this distinct realness and awareness that contrast against the obviously unreal delirious background.

The woman in this narrative embodies this blue dog in a dream with unmistakably real characteristics. Throughout the story, Marquez presents the reader with the possibility of linking the unconscious with the conscious world but in the gloomy end, we find out that is unachievable. Through Focalization, we can see what is important and we understand that to the protagonist  of this story, it does not matter that they are in a strange world, those piercing realistic eyes are what he focalizes on and what grabs his attention.

Romanticism in Samperio and Garcia Marquez

Is love conscious or unconscious? It appears in both Garcia Marquez’s “Eyes of a Blue Dog” and Guillermo Sampero’s “She Lived in a Story”, main characters struggle to express love in the conscious physical world, but in the unconscious, the feel for affection overflows in the narrative. Why is that? One’s emotions for another starts within the body and that is seen within both these narratives. Samperio writes:

The children just went to sleep to sleep…I was reading a little…don’t you want something to eat?

No…I would prefer to start writing…

O.K. I’ll wait for you in the bedroom.

Elena left the room, blowing a kiss towards her husband off the palm of her hand. Guillermo Segovia settled down in front of his typewriter; from the drawer that he had left open, he took out several sheets of blank paper and inserted the first one. He typed the title and began to write. (Samperio 57)

I found this passage interesting because here Segovia’s wife is clearly trying to be romantic with her husband and Segovia is completely oblivious and much more concerned with his writing than going to the bedroom with his wife. His begins writing about this woman Ofeila and apparently becomes infatuated with her, in the end, imagining him meeting her. Is his fiction a substitution for his feelings and desires? This substitution idea has some relevence to narrative, because, notice, Segovia switches his wife for a “paper” woman, and really, for the fantasy of her, and fantasies are always narratives, or imagined cases, told from specific points of view. Marquez writes:

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 … You’re the only man who doesn’t remember anything of what he’s dreamed after he wakes up” (Marquez 57).

 

In Garcia Marquez’s narrative, these two characters have a mysterious bond that is unparallel to their conscious counter parts. They do not even know each other in the physical world but unconsciously, these two partake in the most intimate conversations that you would assume they have been together for a long time now.

Love is only evident in the unconscious therefore that is where it is created. Both Guillermo and Garcia Marquez’s stories are considered the great ambassadors of magical realism. Since romance is the major dilemma represented in their stories, we can assume most all magical realism literature must resemble this structure.  If a stereo type of Hispanic Literature is that it incorporates romance also, Then Isn’t Hispanic Literature Magic Realism by default?

 

Magical Realism is a Hero’s Journey

After reading Samperio and Garcia Marquez’s stories, I can how it follows the outline of Campbells’ Famous Hero’s Journey, which is the typical outline to American Literature. In turns out, Samperio and Garcia Marquez’s collected stories are more difficult to decipher and pattern. Why is that? Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey is the classic example of story and discourse. There is always a hero or antagonist in a story but how it is told, is what makes the discourse. The “story” can be viewed as the blue print of every movie, performance, and work of literature. It can also be described as a list of events. In my opinion, almost every story in a genre is the same. For example, what is the typical story in a romance? Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Girl does not like boy. Boy does something heroic to win over girl. Girl likes boy. Discourse is what makes the story unique. It is the way in which the events are depicted and reshaped in their employment. Without discourse, the world as we know it would come to an end. It would drive people insane to read or view the same thing over and over again.

I would even go as far as saying Campbell’s Hero’s Journey is the outline of the story in an American movie, performance, or work of literature. In typical movies a hero must first receive a call to embark on a quest into the unknown. This is the first step in the separation or departure stage. The refusal of the call is what follows next. The hero maybe confused or unwilling to confront his/her problem. I do not completely agree with the next step which is the supernatural aid. Although in mainstream stories, the hero usually receives outside help but I don’t believe it is always from the supernatural. What’s to follow is what I like to call: where the action begins. The crossing of the threshold is the point in the story where the hero actually enters the sphere of adventure, leaving behind the safety and comfort of home, to undertake the dark realm where the rules and limits are not known. Once the hero leaves, they begin to be constantly tested which is called the Trials & Victories of Initiation. This does not happen in neither Samperio or Garcia Marquez. The hero must of course prove they are worthy to the reader. Typically the hero fails in the beginning, but it is just part of their learning process. Soon after, the hero meets their destine partner in life, their love of their life (Yes even hero’s need love). The next step in Campbell’s Hero’s Journey is something that can be thought as final fight. Campbell calls it Atonement with the father. He uses father probably due to the fact the protagonist is usually an older male figure. When defeating or surpassing the villain, the hero accomplishes its goal, referred to The Ultimate Boon. In my opinion, the return & reintegration with society is the most important stage in the outline of Hero’s Journey. If the reader/audience has a good feeling toward the hero upon his /her return, it was a successful discourse. Freedom to live is the stage where we get to compare our hero at the end, to how he/she was in the beginning. We see the differences in personality, strengths, and maybe even in confidence. Since Magical realism does not follow the typical Hero’s Journey, Magical Realism cannot be American Literature, it is Hispanic Literature.

Conclusion

Future research could use my research to prove Hispanic Literature must be Magical Realism because of its constant themes and structure. Romanticism seems to be at the heart of all Latin American Literature. By using Narratology and Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey”, in this article I analyzed that the stereotype of all Latin American Literature must be magical realism.

 

Works Cited

Eyes of a Blue Dog. Digital image. Eyes of a Blue Dog: A Tale of Triple Synchrnicity. Web. 17 Dec. 2011. <http://www.tonyvigorito.com/blog/eyesofabluedog>.

Garcia, Marquez Gabriel. Eyes of a Blue Dog Collected Stories. Trans. Gregory Rabassa and J. S. Bernstein. New York: Harper & Row, 1984.  Print.

Gonsalves, Rob. Magical Realism. Digital image. 0 the 1: Magic Realism. Web. 17 Dec. 2011. <http://zerotheone.blogspot.com/2009/10/magic-realism.html>.

Guillermo Samperio. “She Lived in a Story.”TriQuarterly 1992: 54-62 Print.

“Hero’s Journey.” Berkley College. Web. 17 Dec. 2011.  <http://orias.berkeley.edu.hero/JourneyStages.pdf>.

“Inception Scene – Explaining the Dream World Scene Part 1 – YouTube.” YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. Web. 20 Dec. 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPvZlsj4nfQ>.

Jahn, Manfred. 2005. Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative. English Department, University of Cologne. 28 May 2005. Web. 17 Dec. 2011.

 

 

 

 

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