The ways in which an author may choose to shape his/her characters directly affects an interpretation of those characters by potential readers. Sometimes, one’s interpretation of a character moves beyond the influence of the author and to another character itself; essentially, an author can choose to have one character directly shape another. This idea sets the foundation for the literary concept of figural characterization which is defined as, “the characterizing subject is a character. On the level of explicit characterization, a character either characterizes him- or herself, or some other character” (Jahn N7.3). In Guillermo Samperio’s “She Lived in a Story,” Samperio creates a story within a story and thusly, characters who are extensions from these predeceasing stories. We still evidence of this in “She Live in a Story” as Samperio writes, “as he shut off the engine, he decided that the woman in this story would be a young actress whom he admired, for her performances and her extraordinary beauty. Furthermore the actress somewhat resembled Frida Kahlo, who painted herself in the dreams of her paintings, another way to live in one’s fiction” (Samperio 56). In this quote, the character of Samperio’s story Guillermo Segovia writes about his fictional character he created for a story of his own named Ofelia. Rather than Samperio write about Ofelia in a third-person point of view, he decides to let the characterization of Ofelia be told through Segovia. In doing so, readers seem to get a closer, more in-depth look into Ofelia’s being. Had Samperio been the one to describe Ofelia, her characterization may be seem further removed from the readers and less personable. Segovia writes of her in detail and passion, as if he truly knew her as opposed to created her; the beauty of Ofelia seems like something Segovia was fortunate enough to experience, as well as her acting prowess. Segovia speaks from a place of admiration and what seems like first-hand experience. In addition to having Segovia describe Ofelia in a more personal degree, we take what he says at face value; the fact that Segovia is a reliable or trustworthy narrator allows readers to put full confidence into what he says or how he describes her. The reliability of Segovia adds to the concept of figural characterization within the story, because as readers we believe that Ofelia must possess great physical beauty and skills in acting simply because Segovia said so.
Guillermo Samperio’s “She Lived in a Story” incorporates the literary style of narrative levels to create a story of intrigue and depth. Narrative, or diegetic, levels consist of three differing, ordered levels: the general framework, the matrix, and the hypernarrative. The general framework is the beginning level from which both of the others stem from. The matrix is the direct extension of the general framework, and the hypernarrative is thus an extension of both but namely, it is a direct result of the matrix. Samperio’s story contains, “an ‘embedded’ or ‘hyponarrative’” (Jahn 2.4.1); essentially, Samperio’s story contains a story within a story within a story. This idea is executed through narrative levels with Samperio’s story being the general framework, Segovia’s story exists as the matrix, and Ofelia’s account is the hypernarrative. Samperio writes, “this change bothers him because he understands that the next step is to know that he is not being watched, but that he lives inside a gaze, that he is now a part of a new way of seeing. Standing at the foot of the stairs, he thinks: ‘That gaze could be Ofelia’” (Samperio 61). A close analysis and interpretation of this quote reveals that it touches upon the concept of narrative levels with Samperio’s work. The “him” within the quote is Segovia. The gaze Segovia lives within is that of Ofelia’s, and the “new way of seeing” mentioned is that of this character he has created. Segovia’s story would not exist without Samperio’s, the general framework. Likewise, Ofelia’s story wouldn’t exist without Segovia’s or the matrix. Segovia’s character goes from “being watched” by Samperio to becoming the gaze of Ofelia or his extension. Through his story he has become something else, he exists as something else; his creation of Ofelia has thusly created a new sense of being for himself, one that he can no longer avoid. The “gaze” that is Ofelia is the hypernarrative story within the matrix of Segovia which is embedded in the general framework of Samperio’s “She Lived in a Story.”
1. Jahn, Manfred. “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative.” 28 May 2005. Web. 10 June 2011.
2. Samperio, Guillermo. “She Lived in a Story.” New Works from Mexico. Ed. Reginald Gibbons.Evanston: TriQuarterly, 1992. Print
Jahn, Manfred. “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative.” 28 May 2005. Web. 10 June 2011.
Samperio, Guillermo. “She Lived in a Story.” New Works from Mexico. Ed. Reginald Gibbons.Evanston: TriQuarterly, 1992. Print.
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