A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE NARRATIVE STRUCTURES OF THE TEXTS: ARABY by JAMES JOYCE & THE LAST LEAF by O HENRY
A narrative is a story, whether told in prose or verse, involving events, characters, and what the characters say and do. Some literary forms such as the novel and short story in prose, and the epic and romance in verse, are explicit narratives that are told by a narrator. In drama , the narrative is told, but not evolves by means of the direct presentation on stage of actions and speeches of the characters. It should be noted that there is an implicit narrative element even in many lyric poems. In William Wordsworth ‘s “The Solitary Reaper”, for example, we infer from what the lyric speaker says that, coming unexpectedly in the Scottish Highlands upon a girl reaping and singing, he stops, attends, mediates, and then resumes his climb up the hill. While this paper is based on the comparative study of any two texts on the basis of narrative mode. Hence lets begin too discuss what narrative mode is all about, well it is the set of methods which the author of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical story uses to convey the plot to the audience. Narration, the process of presenting the narrative, occurs because of the narrative mode. It encompasses several overlapping areas of concern, most importantly narrative point-of-view, which determines through whose perspective the story is viewed and narrative voice, which determines a set of consistent features regarding the way through which the story is communicated to the audience. This paper, based on the stylistic analysis of the point of view in two texts Araby and The Last Leaf well it tries to explore the narrative strategy of James Joyce and O. Henry .
Adhikari 2 Defining the short story as a private art intended to satisfy the standards of the individual solitary critical reader Frank O’ Connor concludes that the private nature of the twentieth century short story impels it to derive its subject matter , situations and characters from an isolated or “submerged population’. Like most of the stories in Dubliners ‘ Araby ’ is a study in alienation. It is also, an initiation exercise in the best tradition of the genre, preoccupied as it is with the passage of its boy narrator from relatively uncomplicated perceptions and pastimes to a considerably more complex view of things. The acquisition of knowledge by the protagonist is accompanied by a process of withdrawal and distancing that is both a means and a measure of the psychological growth explored in the story. Rohrberger and Burns’ assertion that”…the protagonist’s conflict-the question of his identity -is embodied in the structure of the narrative “ may be reasonably confirmed Joyce’s use of certain narrative strategies that tend in that direction. From an apparently innocuous third person narration the story slips unobtrusively into the first person mode with the use of the collective pronoun “our” in the shift to the first person narration is total. However, as J.L .Morrissey has pointed out in his insightful study ‘Narrative Strategies in “Araby” the harmonizing of points of view does not end with the shift from one to the other but achieves a further problematization in the subtle and grafted shifting of the developed individuality, what he calls the ‘isolated “I”’ from the simple first person ,”I liked” ,”I wished” and the collective consciousness ,”our house” and “ our shouts” instinctively expressing a sense of belonging , however tenuous to a group of friends .However ,with his withdrawal into the recesses of the self and simultaneous disengagement from community the first person acquires a more complex and alienated tone. The emergence of the “isolated ”I”’ characterizing the boy narrator ‘s passage from innocence to experience is fraught with cognitive tensions that manifest themselves in the narrative code inviting a closer scrutiny of its verbal components. Statements such as,”…and yet her name was summons to all my foolish blood”, and “What innumerable follies laid waste my walking and sleeping thoughts after that evening!” are illustrative of distinct registers at work. The effusive and the critical are in a conflicting mode making for a narrative technique that strives for optimal mimesis of the mental processes of the young protagonist. “Until ‘Araby’ the children tell their own stories; after ‘Araby’, the narrator tells the tales of the lost souls. The half-man, half-child of ‘Araby’ emerges slowly from the third person narration to tell his own tale”3 .In the history of his emergence lies the story of the self as it struggles to articulate its perceptions and perfections. This articulation so painstakingly wrought however, disperses into a detached narration .The narrator, anonymous in the early stories becomes virtually invisible in later ones. The progressive alienation experienced by the narrator, borne out of his conscious and unconscious disengagement, is shown for the most part, though a vocabulary of distancings and displacement. This begins to occur as early as the end of the third paragraph where the narrator says, “…And I stood by the railings looking at her” the conversation with Mangan’s sister he mentions, ”Her brother and two other boys were fighting for their caps, and I was alone at the railings”. The “railings” between them persist in
one way or the other with the imagery of obstruction surfacing in the “ gauntlet of the rough tribes”, the”throng of foes”, and “ the serious work of life” which, to the maturing outlook and heightened consciousness of the adolescent narrator appeared as “ ugly monotonous child’s play”. The narrator has , in fact, stayed so far from the group that, on one occasion, the cries of his companions playing “below” in the street reach him” weakened and indistinct “. Stephen in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is also separated from other children by his sense of superiority.” The noise of children at play annoyed him and their silly voices made him feel , even more keenly than he had felt at Clongowes, that he was different from others . he did not want to play.” The image of the boundary persists in the “twinkling river” which ,the narrator had to cross during his train-ride to the fair. He crosses the riverine threshold in search of his mission , striving beyond the periphery of the one world for what he hopes to find in another . Border- crossings, both physical and emotional, imbue the story with the dynamics of displacement that is crucial to is theme of alienation. The boundary image reappears ,albeit in a modified from ,in the metaphors of the turnstile and the portal created by the urns, which stood on either side of the ‘dark entrance” to a stall. Separation and assimilation coverage in these images to suggest the complications that frequently attend infiltrations. Along with the road and the threshold the portal is a typical chronotopic in which” spatial and temporal indicators are fusedinto one carefully through-out concrete whole’.Bakhtin argues that in the literary artistic chronotope “ Time thickens…. Takes on flesh, becomes artistically visible; likewise space becomes charged and responsive to the movements of time ,plot and history”. In an interesting geometry of effects verticality is attended by laterality. The higher the boy – narrator climbs in his pursuit of an adult-like knowledge the farther he is seen to move ,the lack of interaction between the narrator and the palpable throughout the story. The uncle’s curt answer , his delay in returning home, his drunken indifference to the boy’s intense romantic aspirations combined with the aunt’s general insensitivity to the same in conveying a domestic atmosphere of the utmost deprivation. The narrator observes of the salesgirl, “The tone of her voice was not encouraging; she seemed to have spoken to me out of a sence of duty “. Forever relegated to being the recipient of impersonal attentions desultorily bestowed whether at home or abroad the narrator is destined to haunt the margins of relationships , watching, following, enduring in the throes of a personal emotion , scarcely ever gaining any ground or eliciting the desired reciprocity in others. Instead of being an idealistic consummator of a vision ardently entertained, the narrator is ironical perceived as a potential consumer in a half closed bazaar where men were “ counting money on a salver” Marginalized and perceiving himself unwelcome the boy looked “ humbly” at the jars flanking the entrance of the dark stall , and “lingered” for a while before turning away. The flippant intonations of the sales girl as she flirted with the young men “O, I never said such a thing!” bring home to the narrator the retraction of an infinitely greater promise that had spurred him on to his quest in the first place . tn the adult world of commerce and idle flirtation , the narrator, in an ironical inversion of the ignition rite, seems to a child once more murmuring his thanks and jingling the two pennies against the sixpence in his pocket.
The closure of the story, in its emphasis on aloneness, seems to bear out Ber nard Bergonzi’s contention that the from of the short story “tends to filter down experience to the prime elements of alienation and defeat”. O.Henry’s short story The Last Leaf ,describing the transfiguring and reincarnating power of art ,is a great example of the art of the author in case of narration , technique, symbolism and growth of the theme. O.Henry’s short story shows a great unity in its theme and style , the whole story being a combination of sentimental out pouring and symmetrical style of narration and other artistic phenomenon. Henry employs a number of symbols , images, personifications, pathetic fallacies and other picturesque details, along with the sentimental switch with the twist in the tail. In its uniqueness in narrative craft , along with the various images, the whole story being crafted through a logical pattern of scenes, the story becomes extremely touching and attractive. O.Henry’s The Last Leaf begins with the evocation of the atmosphere of the district of west of Washington Square, with the streets running crazy and broken into small strips places. Then in the next paragraph we have the description of old Greenwich Village, in which ‘art people soon came prowling’. The scene advances to windows and eighteenth century gables and ‘Dutch attics’. The imagery advances and then we are introduced to the characters of the story –Johnsy and Sue , the two artists who found some affinities between each other and at last boarded an one room joint flat. Thus there is no abruptness in the beginning, the third person narrator going smoothly from one scene to another to develop the mood of the story and there is something cinematic in the description which is so logically built from the wider place to the smaller places and ultimately reaching the characters. O.Henry’s narrative technique is mostly third person omnipresent narration in which the narrator continually moves from one scene to another, thereby making the story lot more dramatic and logical in its growth. In some cases the very narration goes on to have some humorous touches, which is not devoid of any imaginative felicity and thematic over pouring. The Last Leaf is built through logical scenes in perfect order and symmetry of plot. But on the other hand the third person narrator’s role becomes very much important in case of building up the sentimental appeal of the story through the twist in the tale technique. The twist in the tale offers the very theme of the play. If Behrman’s act of painting the leaf and placing it on the vine , was told before the recovery of Johnsy ,the dramatic revelation of the central theme could have been violated .The potency of art i.e. the theme of the story, is built through the last line ,in which the twist occurs through a surprise. O.Henry’s use of colloquial language appears to be a very conspicuous element in style and narrative technique of The Last Leaf .Old Berhman’s simple, humorous and unassuming sentences give the story a charm of its own. The entire plot of the story as well as revealing the characters of the men and women. The Last Leaf is not highly complex but there is an overflow of symbols in its narrative technique. The old, ineffectual artist, waiting and talking of his coming master piece paints a replica leaf with ’green’ and ‘yellow’ colors, the colors symbolizing ‘death’ and a ‘regeneration’ in the ‘yellow’ and ‘green’ respectively. Again the ‘ladder’ and ‘lantern’ stand for the aspiration and distant ray of hope in life , that Johnsy lacked, and that Berhrman provided at last.
The Last Leaf appears to be very much related to the story’s delicate symmetry of plot ,the twist in the tale, with the narrator’s third person omnipresent narration with symbolic overtones and suitable use of life like imagery .The theme of the story is taken out of the numerous details and one logical way of scenes. Thus The Last Leaf is characterized by its author’s handling of the themes of art and life, and how in the confrontation between life and death, art stands for the transfiguration and transubstinating power of hope and aspiration .But the real charm rests on the handling of such themes in an attractive and symbolic manner. Well after the comparative study of both the texts on narrative what I seem to have found out is that in ‘Araby’ we find apparently third person narration the story slips into first person mode with the use of collective pronoun. But O.Henry narrative technique in The Last Leaf we find narrator continually moves from one scene to another, thereby making the story more dramatic and logical in its growth. The narrator in ‘Araby’ remains anonymous to the early stories becomes virtually invisible in the later ones. But in The Last Leaf the narrator remains third person omnipresent. In Joyce’s work we find there is lack of interaction between the narrator and the elders, which could be due to generational divide or it could be due to some other tensions in family. No such feature of narrator is found in O.Henry’s text The Last Leaf the third person narrator’s role seems to be very much important in case of building up the sentimental appeal of the story through the twist in the tale technique.
Adhikari 6 BIBLIOGRAPHY
* A GLOSSARY OF LITERARY TERMS
* SHORT FICTION AND THE NUMINOUS REALM: ANOTHER ATTEMPT AT DEFINITION(MFS,VOL28,NO1. SPR1982),46 -MARY ROHRBERGER AND DAN E. BURNS
* ‘JOYCE’S NARRATIVE STRATEGIES IN “ARABY”’(MFS, VOL28, NO 1, SPR 1982),46 -J.L. MORRISEY
* A PORTAIT,(47)
* THE DIALOGIC IMAGINATION: FOUR EASSAYS
-M. M BAKHTIN
-EDITED: MICHEAL HOLQUIST
-TRANSLATED: CARYL EMERSON AND M. HOLQUIST
-PUB: AUSTEN UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS PRESS,1981,(84)
* THE SITUATION OF THE NOVEL
- PUB:LONDON MACMILLAN,1970(215)
* 100 SECLECTED STORIES
NARRATIVE MODE :1.2
DATE:28 September 2012