Arguably, Sky Lee not only presents us with an alternative in narrating History, but more importantly, a method of self-discovery and self-awareness – a search for one’s self. Unfolding identity or distinct character profiles, however, is less of a straightforward task than simply collating character descriptions from the novel and piecing them together like a jigsaw puzzle in order to come up with a holistic perspective on each character. Readers have to take into account a number of additional factors.
First, being characters of pure fiction, the author’s views, dispositions and attitude towards the characters must be thrown into the analysis. The assumption here is that every word, action or thought expressed by each character hinge on who the author is. Put simply and concisely, character identities are symbiotically attached to the author’s identity. Appropriately, in my personal experience of Literature study in The Ateneo, professors would begin every discussion by first introducing the author so that students would comprehend the maxims behind the story’s plot, setting, style, theme and in this case, character profiles. A corollary to this assumption is that the author’s background (personal history) has an implicit yet profound influence on all aspects of the narrative. An illustration very close to our Filipino roots and sensibility are the works of Jose Rizal – Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Through acquainting ourselves with Rizal, the maxim of nationalism comes to light, that given the identity of Dr. Jose Rizal, readers realize the implicit heroic propaganda embedded between the lines. They are able to further comprehend why characters were constructed the way they were. Donya Victorina, for instance, is profiled to be a model for colonial mentality in order to awaken the sensibilities of the elite in antagonizing their own native identity.
Notably, Sky Lee has some striking...