Just as in “She Lived in a Story,” Omaha Bigelow exhibits the narratological concept of a matrix story, or a story within a story.
“Maruquita handed Omaha the cell phone. He took it hesitantly. Mr. Vega?” (Vega 98)
The story within a story occurs as Mr. Vega and Omaha converse. Readers are seemingly, at first, unaware of who Mr. Vega is or his role within the novel. No outside information is given as to his character, and as readers, we are left to fill in the pieces and build our own interpretation as to goings on of the story. From the lack of information, we determine that Mr. Vega, Omaha, and Maruquita had an ongoing storyline different from that of which we have been reading thus far. Thus, a story within a story unfolds in Omaha Bigelow.
Narratology is essential to interpreting literature, because it allows you, as a reader, to delve deeper into the story. You gain a better understanding of the characters: static or flat; it helps you to not only categorize the characters but to understand what really makes them who they are. Narratology also lets readers determine the voice within the text and the eyes through which we see the story; this alone helps the readers to gain a better understanding of what the author intended while writing.
I remember it was the end of 7th grade and school let out for the summer. I was saying goodbye to my friends and remember being sad. We hugged goodbye and I told them I wasn’t moving and that I’d be back in three weeks. Looking back, it was comical how worried my friends were that they thought my three week vacation in Guyana would somehow turn into me moving there permanently. I remember at the airport, Asha’s bag got checked and she freaked out saying, “I didn’t pack my own bag; my mom did it.” We all died of laughter, because she was so young. I remember my dad telling me to not talk to any boy and to not go swimming. I remember the day we got there. We were playing catch with an unripened guava. Dave was throwing it from the ground up to the balcony where me and Priya were standing. He threw it too hard, and I ducked – not catching it. We all heard a loud crashing sound of glass shattering. We slowly turned around and saw the window had broken, leaving piece of glass all around the balcony floor.
Focalization can be either internal or external or heterodiegetic or homodiegetic. Fixed, indicates that there is one POV, while variable means that there are multiple POVs that switch between each other. The focalizer is referred to as the person from whose POV the story is being told. In Samperio’s “She Lived in a Story” there is variable focalization in that it switches between Samperio, Segovia, and Ofelia. Cervantes is alike in the multiple POVs, since it varies from that of Don Quixote and the narrators. The dynamic of having multiple POVs adds depth to the story and different perspectives into the story. An author includes many focalizers so that readers’ interests are peeked and keeps the audience on their toes by having things constantly switch.
I’d rate Omaha Bigelow four out of five stars; it was unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It was edgy, sexual, and fantastical. It took any preconceived notions that the readers might have and dispelled them. It kept its readers guessing as to the next event just because of the sheer ridiculousness of it all. Bigelow’s story was told in a creative, yet frank way, and was written in a far from traditional sense. The dialect was common, every day, street talk and added a somewhat relatable aspect to the characters and the entirety of the novel. We were able to feel pity and despair with Omaha Bigelow as he travelled through each event of the novel.
Story Line – 10 Points:
1. we decide to take the boat out for a quick trip
2. as we paddle back into the dock, someone spots a bee hive’s nest close by and decides to freak everyone out as a prank
3. that person jumps out of the boat for theatrics and begins to scream about the bee’s nest
4. everyone in the boat begins to jump up and down and begins to panic
5. the boat flips over
6. everyone panics more and gets separated
7. neighboring people hear the screaming
8. people are getting pulled out of the water, but I can’t see anything or swim ashore
9. my sister holds my head under water, and I have trouble breathing
10. my uncle takes control of the situation and calms everyone down
“Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote” calls the credibility of the narrator into question at the very beginning of the piece. “I am aware that it is easy enough to call my own scant authority into question. I hope, nonetheless, that I shall not be prohibited from mentioning two high testimonials” (Menard 88). Along with questioning the reliability of himself as the narrator, he makes sure to back his reputation up by adding two references of highly esteemed testimonials. He plays into readers’ conceptions that he might be an unreliable source and banishes any doubts that they might have by validating his reputation with his references of baroness de Bacourt and countess de Bagnoregio. This idea of unreliability is evident in Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote as well as Cervantes writes, “but this doesn’t matter much, as far as our story’s concerned, provided that the narrator doesn’t stray one inch from the truth” (Cervantes 25). This idea that the narrator is seemingly unreliable leaves much to question on both tales. The readers are left wondering how much of what they’re actually reading is reality and what is a fiction of the characters’ or the narrator’s imaginations.
I would rate the story of Don Quixote a solid 3 out of 5 stars. I found it an enjoyable read, yet I didn’t find it groundbreaking or revolutionary. It seemed to a comical tale following the adventures of Don Quixote and his sidekick Sancho Panza and barely anything more. I’d recommend the book to those wanting an easy, yet long read that is full of cheap thrills. The book was overly repetitive in that there’s only so many misshaped adventures that the readers can take. From a literary standpoint, I find that it narrowed in on focalization well and flipped between the internal and external narrator quite often. I’m not quite sure this book is considered a literary classic, although I can see the literary creativity of Miguel de Cervantes in his writings. I found “She Lived in a Story” to be more edgy and daring, unlike many things I’ve read before. There were twists within the plot and a deeper storyline.
Understanding the differences between discourse, story, discourse time, and story time help readers to better grasp the story of Don Quixote. Discourse refers to conversation, discussion, argument, the way the narrator tells the story, or the collective works of a conversation. In Don Quixote, that would be any of the dialogue between the various characters within each chapter. The discourse offers a break from the story or the narrative that tells who, what, where, when, and why; it can also be described as events happening in sequence or a series of events. Essentially, discourse is the story being told by the narrator, while discourse is the conversation between the characters. A further step into understanding these two elements are their subcategories of discourse time, or the time it takes you to read something, and story or the amount of time it takes the story to happen. The story time is typically longer in length than the discourse time simply because the amount of time it takes a reader to read something is significantly shorter than the amount of time it would take actual events to unfold. In Don Quixote, readers jump back and forth between discourse and the story, and separating the two helps readers to better understand the dynamics of the story.
In Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes, Don Quixote treads the line between reality and fiction through his countless adventures with his sidekick Sancho. The idea that imagination can overtake reality is discussed as Cervantes writes, “the idea that this whole fabric of famous fabrications was real so established itself in his mind that no history in the world was truer for him” (Cervantes 27). This quote reinforces the power of the mind so much so that fiction becomes Don Quixote’s reality. He is no longer able to separate reality from fiction. What he reads is the world around him and the history of the past. The alliteration, namely the use of the word “fabric,” indicates that there’s an element of structure. The fabric is part of a greater whole- the pieces of the imagination weave together to make or overtake his mind. “Famous fabrications” can be stories there were already written; these stories were taken at face value by him and became real.