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Assignment 2

Topics: Narrative / Pages: 10 (2642 words) / Published: Apr 12th, 2015
49941771

THL3701

49941771
THL3701
Assignment 2
Unique number: 771426
Please note:

Extension requested from Mr A.P Roux on 22/04/2014

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Assignment 2: 771426

49941771

THL3701

Assignment 2: 771426

Question 1
How Apartheid affects us all
First-person texts like mark Behr’s “The Smell of Apples” is written from one character’s point of view. In this case it is from the perspective of an eleven year old Marnus Erasmus with sections from him when he is older and fighting in a war.
We can see how the different people in the Apartheid-era were treated through Marnus’ actions in
1973. We also see how that particular year caused big changes to occur in Marnus’ life when he reflects on them when he is twenty-six and in the midst of battle.
We will look at the récit (the concrete narrative text) and histoire (the underlying story) and how they interact in “The Smell of Apples”
Récit is the oral or written dialogue that makes up how an event or a series of events are told in a narrative. It is the physical book we read – that is Mark Behr’s “The Smell of Apples” in our case. We also see that there are two timelines in the novel; that is Marnus as a eleven year old narrator in
Cape Town almost on holiday and sporadic narration of a twenty-six year old Marnus in Angola fighting in a war.
It also refers to the real or fictitious succession of events that form part of the dialogue. We experience a summer in the life of Marnus Erasmus. The things that happen to him – from where the stange Mr Smith comes to visit, how his sister is more cynical of her parent’s beliefs to the eventual experience of seeing his best friend’s rape at the hands of his father – all form part of the récit.
Narrative is seen as the form of signifier (Oliphant 2012:14). It is seen as the printing on the pages of a novel. We can also see the prominent Afrikaans heritage of the author in the use of the Afrikaans
“Oupa” (page 21), “Tannie” (page 26) and the ever popular “Ja” (page 62).
Histoire is the story in the story that we, as reader, must figure out. To do that we must figure out what the author / narrator is trying to convey.
In “The Smell of Apples” we see that the oppression of Apartheid came mainly from the white
Afrikaners but because of the expectations they of their culture they oppressed themselves in a way with their fear, isolation and alienation. They taught their children to think a certain way and those who do not comply were cast out. An example of this is the way that Marnus’ ‘Tannie Karlie’s exclusion of the family because she said that Marnus’ father sucked the life out of his mother (page
106)
The history or story is the content or signified of the narrative and to extract the story buried in the text we have to move between the narrative texts and the meanings of the story (Oliphant 2012:15).
In “The Smell of Apples” we see some ‘hidden’ meanings and scenes develop through the novel. We see it in the way Behr pops in the word apple in the everyday going-ons of the family – apple tart to finish off dinner (page 41) to drinking Appletiser. We also see how the title of the novel is explained through the course of the events - from being compared to white supremacy (page 124) to being compared to the rot that Apartheid made the of the people (page 179)

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From the retrospections of Marnus we see him coming to terms of what he was taught and how it affects all.

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Question 2
Anachronies in The Smell of Apples
Anachronies are the differences, contradictions and divergences between the time-order that characterises the narrative level of the story (Oliphant 2012:29).It is the parts in a novel that does not form part of the narrative. In other words – it breaks the chronological order of events in a story.
There are three different types of anachronies that can affect the chronological timeline in a story.
They are flashbacks (where the narrator recalls a past event), prefiguration (to tell of an event that is yet to take place) and timeless events (or sometimes called eternal).
Genette (1980:40) gives these anachronies new terms that are not associated with psychology and subjective associations. They are analepsis, which is the telling of an event after it has taken place earlier than the point in the story. Prolepsis is the telling of an event before it will take place and achrony is all the forms of discourse between the two orders of story and narrative.
In “The Smell of Apples” we see a matured Marnus, aged twenty-six, busy fighting in the war in
Malawi and thinking back on the summer being narrated by his eleven year old counterpart. He compares some of the instances to military formation and rules and sees how their family was led around by their patriarchal father. We see him getting a letter from his mother begging him to return home, but still he stays and contemplates his life.
You get different types of analepses; namely internal, external and mixed. The primary narrative of
“The Smell of Apples” is from an eleven year old Manus’ point of view while external analepsis comes forth in the twenty-six year old Marnus’ point of view. This is because the analepsis (1988) happens outside the time frame of the primary text (summer of 1973).
“The Smell of Apples” also shows us that the past events are somewhat similar to that of the primary text, making it a homodiegetic analepses. Both deal with life changing events that make Marnus reevaluate his life and beliefs.
We see that Marnus changes how he looks at the people around him through the analepsis and although he never had extremely negative interactions with black or Coloureds he was still very much influenced by his racist and narrow-minded father. As they move closer to the 1990s and
Apartheid comes closer to an end, Marnus realised and hints at the summer of 1973s events that he sees thing differently than he did as a child.
In the interplay of the past and present events we see the destruction and discourse Apartheid left through the eyes of a white Afrikaner boy and how the repercussions of a devastating secret can stay and haunt you to death.

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Question 3
The role of the first-person narrator
When reading a book, you get readers who prefer third-person writing style over first-person and vice versa. This preference could also be because of the genre that the reader is interested in. A romance novel would not be as intimate and romantic if it was written in an omniscient voice, likewise an action novel would be very biased if written in first-person.
When reading Mark Behr’s “The Smell of Apples” we see how the main character, Marnus, experience during the summer when he is eleven. Sporadically during the encounter we encounter a twenty-six year old Marnus fighting in a war in Malawi. This retrospective first person narrative draws you in by hinting at happenings that changed the course of his life.
According to Genette there is no difference between a first-person narrative and a third-person center of consciousness (Oliphant 2012:80). Both of these occurrences are interior and they have a character, in the case of “The Smell of Apples” we have Marnus, as focus. The differences between these two come in the identity of the narrator, in other words the voice. Focus and voice are separate in first-person narratives but these separations are mostly ignored by studies of point of view (Oliphant 2012:80).
In a retrospective first-person narrative the same character is the narrating voice and the narrating focus. In this character there is the one who already went through the events of the past (the focus) and then there is the one who is narrating in the present (the voice). In “The Smell of Apples” the focus is the twenty-six year old Marnus thinking back on what the eleven year old Marnus is experiencing in the primary text. He is the voice. Both these aspects are different in function and knowledge. When looking at focalisation we see that “The Smell of Apples” is a form of internal fixed focalisation because the character, Marnus, is focalised from an interior viewpoint and the entire novel is written from his viewpoint.
The distinction between narration and focalisation is that it influences how the reader receives narrative information. In a retrospective first-person narrative the narrator tells his own story and is focalised through the younger ‘hero’ and the experiencing “I” can restrict the type of information that the reader can access. An example in “The Smell of Apples” can be see when the retrospective
Marnus thinks back to the summer of 1973 and hint at happenings but we as reader only learn of the actual happenings later on in the novel.
The difference between a nonfocalised narrative, the omniscient narrator, and an internally focalised narrative is in the agent who sees more than the character or who sees with the character.
The experiencing “I” who is the focus of the internal focalisation comes together with the character and becomes the fictive subject (Oliphant 2012:82). These subjects see everything that the character sees. The experiencing “I” in “The Smell of Apples” is Marnus Erasmus and we as reader see everything that he sees.
The choice of focalisation is seen as a considered strategy to limit the amount of information that is conveyed at any given point. A narrative with internal focalisation and homodiegetic (where the past event is similar to the primary events) narrator restricts information given. This is particularly effective in Mark Behr’s novel as the reader only put the pieces of the puzzle that is in the plot together at the last minute.
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The way that information is given to the reader by the narrator, whether in first- or third-person, is based on how the narrative voice is focused. A reader will not always receive all of the information but they will get the idea of what they are supposed to receive. “The Smell of Apples” is a novel full of information that is not always apparent to the reader. It is a deep story of how a culture can manipulate themselves and their children to destruction.

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Question 4
Depiction of character in Mark Behr’s “The Smell of Apples”

A character, whether they are the main one or not, is necessary for the development of the story.
When we are young you only look for the good or bad guy in a story, we forget that there are character that helped the good guy to save the town or made the bad guy become bad. In Mark
Behr’s novel “The Smell of Apples” we encounter numerous characters that make Marnus, the main character and first-person voice, come to the realisation that not all was well in his home, family and culture during the Apartheid era in South Africa.
A reader sometimes associates with a character because they see something of themselves in the character. This can be explained by the fact that traditional studies on narrative an assumption made that characters are based on reader for readers to associate with them (Oliphant 2012:105) and although it came under attack it is still an assumption that is adhered to.
In getting to know the characters of Mark Behr’s “The Smell of Apples” I found EM Forster’s theory of character valuable.
He said that “the actors in a story are, or pretend to be, human beings and that it is necessary to analyse their relation to actual life” (Oliphant quoting Forster 2012:106). He then goes on to say that the difference between a character in a novel and a real person is in the way that they are portrayed in the novel. A real person is somewhat of a mystery to us but a person in a novel is very easily understandable to the reader. We get to know almost every last detail of their lives. This exposure of their lives is the reason that makes the fictional character more “real”. In “The Smell of Apples” we see Marnus letting his friend copy off him in class, them riding their bikes after school and staying at each other’s homes during the holiday make the reader feel closer to the character and make him seem almost like a real person.
As a reader matures and gets more into the finer details of a story you get into contact with different characters. You get flat characters, who do not develop more than what they are at first glance.
These characters help conversations along. In “The Smell of Apples” people like the teacher are examples of flat characters. You also get round characters, they are multidimensional and are capable of developing and lead full lives. These are usually main characters that play major parts in the plot. An example of round character in “The Smell of Apples” is Marnus Erasmus.
David Fishelov also defined type and individual properties of a fictional character in 1990 as a response to Forster’s theory. He categorised a type character as a literary character that embodies either a recurring literary pattern (a stereotype) or a psychological model occurring in a society and supposed to represent humanity. These could be anything from a blonde, an arrogant lawyer or a meek housewife.
Fishelov also link the perception of type and individual characters in literary work to the reader’s activity and ability to see a character as a stereotype yet also see the character as an individual. We can use Marnus as an example in “The Smell of Apples”. On first appearance we see an eleven year old white Afrikaner boy in the midst of the Apartheid era who has white supremacy indoctrinated into him since birth but as the plot unfolds we see that most of his interactions with blacks or coloureds are amicable.

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The duality we see in characters can also be seen in the classification of Pickrel’s (Oliphant 2012:110) between existential and essential characters as well as Henry James’ characters that only fill in a technical role (for example to hold the narrative together) and those essential to the novel (round characters) All characters are important to the development of a novel. A reader may not always recognise the importance of a character but when reflecting on the story the come to some sort of revelation.
“The Smell of Apples” show us a multitude of character that, in some way or another, help Marnus come to the realisation that not all that he was taught by his father was correct.

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Reference
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Oliphant, AW. 2012: Study Guide THL3701: Advanced Narrative Theory. University of South
Africa
Behr, Mark. 1993. The smell of apples. Cape Town: Quellerie
Clouet, Richard. 2004. The allegory of the apple in Mark Behr’s ‘The smell of apples’: The burden of the past and the sense of guilt [online]. Online: publica.webs.ull.es_upload-REV
FILOLOGIA_22-2004-04 (Richard Clouet).pdf (accessed on 22/04/2014)
Wikipedia. 2014. The Smell of Apples. Online: www.wikipedia.com/TheSmellofApples
(accessed on 22/04/2014)
African Bookclub [Don Makatile]. 2011. The Smell of Apples (by Mark Behr). Online: http://www.africabookclub.com/?p=5447 (accessed on 22/04/2014)

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