Labovian Narrative Analysis

Topics: Narrative, Dependent clause, Sentence Pages: 6 (2005 words) Published: February 23, 2013
Narrative Analysis Paper


In this paper, I perform a narrative analysis on an “oral narrative of personal experience”(Labov, 2011). As follows, Section 1 discusses the methodology used to perform the analysis, Section 2 discusses the structure of the narrative and presents the results of the analysis, and Section 3 concludes with a summary of the narrative and analyses. Section 1: Methodology

For this analysis, I used a personal experience that is termed an elicited narrative, which means I asked the individual to share a story instead of relying on naturally occurring conversational data (Labov, 1997). The story is told by a family relative of mine, Lisa. It is about a paranormal experience she had as a child in Sydney, Australia and involves the autonomous movement of a table while Lisa and others were at an open house. To analyze Lisa’s story, I used Labov’s original model of narrative, which breaks down a narrative into distinct categories: Abstract, Orientation, Complicating Action, Evaluation, and Coda. In addition, I used general Labovian narrative theory to describe the temporal structure and function of Lisa’s story; however, I have refrained from using the term Resolution due to its ambiguity in Labov’s literature. Below, in Narrative A, the story has been transcribed to facilitate the following narrative analysis. Each independent clause is numbered, and all dependent clauses are indented below them. Narrative A: An account of Lisa’s paranormal experience

(1)Yeah, once I had this really interesting paranormal experience (2)Uh, back when I was in High School in Sydney in about 1977, (3)my parents were house hunting
(4)and mum and I were checking out a house in Killara they were interested in. (5)As soon as we stepped through the front door into the wide, sunlit hall, (6)we were both impressed by the welcoming atmosphere in the house. (7)There were one or two pieces of furniture in the hallway including an antique tray table which had really old castor wheels on it the type that don't roll very easily even on smooth floors like that hall. (8)The tray table was standing slightly at an angle to the wall and the front edge was about 2 inches further out from the wall than the rear edge. (9)I noticed all this because we had been standing in the hall chatting to the house owner, Mrs. C, for a while (10)when a man came to the front door.

(11)Mum and I were facing away from the door and towards the table, (12)Mrs. C at the door had her back turned
(13)but her visitor at the front door had a clear view of it (the table) (14)No-one was standing within 5 feet of the table
(15)and no-one was moving around to cause the floor to move (16)but that table very smoothly and deliberately moved in on its own towards the wall to sit neatly parallel to it. (17)The silence was deafening!

(18)The man at the door stopped speaking for several seconds (19)then pointed at the table
(20)and in a very shaky voice said "That table just moved!". (21)Mrs C just sort of said "hmmm"
(22)and concluded the conversation.
(23)He left,
(24)she turned back to us,
(25)and continued our chat
(26)as though nothing had happened.
(27)Suffice to say that was only the first encounter of several I had in that house. Section 2: Results & Analysis
In the following subsections, I first describe the general qualities of each narrative category; second, explain Lisa’s narrative in terms of the narrative categories; and, third, present the analysis of Lisa’s narrative in terms of Labovian narrative theory. Section 2.05: The Most Reportable Event

Before diving headfirst into the analysis, it will prove advantageous to define the term most reportable event (MRE). According to Labov, any given narrative is constructed around the MRE. It is the reason for the narrative in the first place. Generally it refers to an uncommon or rare event that greatly affects the...
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