Characterization in Pam Houston’s “A Blizzard Under Blue Sky”
Houston’s “A Blizzard Under Blue Sky” explores and exhibits the idea of psycho-physical experience of being in the natural world to heal one’s psychological and emotional ailments through its invigorating contact. The narrative, by drawing on the theme of depression, relates how the narrator, seeing “everything in [her] life…uncertain” (Houston 185), goes winter-camping alone in the high country; undergoes a chilling near-death experience; and gleefully returns reinvigorated with the memory of “joy”, and “hopefulness” (188). Though highly personalized in the narrative, the narrator’s experience of depression is a common phenomenon and, Houston, in this sense, seems to generalize the issue and be prescriptive in offering an insight into its cure through an experience similar to that of the narrator’s. And this implied prescription seems to exact its influence splendidly through Houston’s description of her characters’ action, behaviour, thought and speech—that is, through the representation of persons or characterisation in her work. As such, “A Blizzard Under Blue Sky” employs merely a round single character, the highly individualized protagonist, who acts in the capacity of the narrator—unless one deems the personified dogs, Jackson and Hailey as characters, too. This dramatic characterization of the narrator as a principal figure reflects the author’s attempt to establish a close attachment with the readers and thereby achieve a greater effect in putting her message across. Having the protagonist relate her own unmediated experience in the first person, the author, in fact, contrives an ingenuous technique in making her story sound real, personal and convincing. Yet, the narrator’s anonymity leaves the readers with an impression that the experience in the narrative must either be that of the author herself or representative of all. Seen in this light, the narrator, presumably the alter ego of...
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