12 June 2011
In Guillermo Samperio’s short story “She Lived in a Story”, the point of view is constantly shifting leading the reader to become confused as to who is telling the story. In Narratolgy: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative,” Manford John explains that the focalization of the focalizer changes according to what is being focalized. This is the focus on who sees or the relation of seeing or being seen. If you were to apply this concept to a story, then the character is the focalizer and how the narrative is presented is the focalization. In Samperio’s story, there is a blatant switch between an external and internal focalization. An external focalization is when events occurring are presented by a narrator while internal is when events are presented from the characters point of view. Ofelia is the woman that lives inside of the story. In this quote, the reader can clearly see the conflict between internal and external focalization:
“I’m inside the gaze. I’m living inside a stare. I’m part of a way of seeing. Something forces me to walk; the fog has descended and its murky fingers reach out toward the windows. I’m a silhouette from the past sticking to the walls. My name is Ofelia and I’ m opening the wooden gate to my house.” (Samperio 59)
What is interesting about Ofelia is that she is a character that is made up by another character. She is not real and cannot control her actions. Think of her as a pawn on a chess board. In the italicized portion of the story, the reader follows Ofelia as she walks around. The reader is inside of Ofelia’s mind and we can read her thoughts and feel the tension. She feels that she is being watched and eyes are staringat her. She keeps looking over her shoulder but no one is there, at least physically. This must have been a very creepy and nerve wracking feeling. The importance of sight is very important to focalization. The narrator must be able to tell the reader what they should be seeing. The fact that Ofelia starts to refer to herself in third person gives the reader an indication that she is not in control of herself. She is not a real human that can make decisionsfor herself. She is a silhouette, a form of herself but not the real deal. A higher being is controlling her and putting her “inside a gaze.” Here we can see the complexityof the short story. Guillermo Segovia is writing this story about Ofelia using internal focalization because we are getting the point of view of the Ofelia. But the story is external as well because Samperio is controlling the entire game.
The distinction between flat and round characters are conveyed in Guillermo Samperio’s short story, “She Lived in a Story.” Samperio begins with one character, Guillermo Segovia who is a pompous professor. Segovia goes home to write a story that includes characters of his own. He then creates Ofelia who would be based on the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. As the role of Ofelia develops, she becomes a round character instead of a flat one.
“As he shut off the engine, he decided that the woman in this story would be a young actress whom he admired, for her performances and her extraordinary beauty. Furthermore the actress somewhat resembled Frida Kahlo, who painted herself in the dreams of her paintings, another way to live in one’s fiction.” (Samperio 56)
Segovia is creating a character that he is putting in his own story. He has a description of her in his mind that he plans to flesh out on paper. The reader is entranced by the character because Segovia is very specific with his ideas. This can be described as figural he is characterizing Ofelia who ends up being a character in his story. As stated before, Ofelia’s physical beauty is based on Frida Kahlo. Ofelia can be looked upon as a flat character because she lacks depth and a personality. She is the protagonist but she lacks substance and a goal. What is the point of the story? Where is all of this going? Later on in the story, Ofelia becomes a round character that possess feelings. The reader can connect with her. When Ofelia feels that someone is watching her, fear evokes from her. These arehuman feelings that the reader can connect with. Segovia himself can be described as a round character as the reader watches him connect with his wife Elena, lecture his students and drive home. Segovia story comes to a halt as Ofelia comes alive and takes over the narration. The end of the story separates the two narratives that Segovia and Ofelia are writing by telling the reader that both characters have accomplished their goals.
De Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel. The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha. Trans. John Rutherford. Columbus, MT: Penguin, 2003. Print.
Jahn, Manfred. “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative.” 28 May 2005. Web. 10 June 2011. <http://www.uni-koeln.de/~ame02/pppn.htm>