Class Notes, 21 June 2011

Q. Why is Narratology useful or not useful for interpreting Literature?

–helps guide readers toward story’s message

–helps us comprehend the author’s message(s)

–gives us insight as to “why” a writer chooses to write a certain way—insight into the author’s technique

–helps to apply to small sections of texts instead of entire novels

–gives a more concrete understanding for analysis

–gives terms for a vocabulary of story

–concepts are simple, but some of the terms

–adds to the interpretation of the story (the structure of the story)

–how the author uses the text, and less than the why . . .

–structure can change affect the interpretation of a text

–a lot simpler to compare two books, because every narrative has structure (system)

–brings an appreciation to what the author writes; readers can catch on to some of the writers’ techniques

“exclusion of folks who don’t know the vocab from the discourse”

“English’s way of taking revenge on Math folks”

“making simple stuff more complicated than it needs to be”

[use this free-write to think about a “theory” section in your final essay]


Q. What are some of the narratological elements you see happening in Omaha Bigelow?


 Go through chapter by chapter and give a short summary:

 Narrator of the novel:

Omaha: narrator has a distinct voice, “comfortable” “casual”

 Bruja: witch, magic

Sequence of events in Omaha

Ch. 1: Introduction to Omaha and his adventures in the park. Description of his relationship to his Mom: Oedipal complex; fired from Kinko’s; Mom’s nail polish and his sexual fetishes; talks to the polar

 [. . .]

 Ch. 13: characters called the narrator, and has exchanges with them. Distinct voice.

Is the narrator the author?

 Or is “Vega” a character?

 Narrative: time and sequence

 Free-indirect discourse


Remember your fight/near-death experience, then do a free-write beginning:

I remember . . .

I remember . . .

Keep the pen(cil) moving



–Winter—December 1999

–use sensory details—smells, sounds, etc.


“dialect” and character

 Make a list of vocabulary terms your protagonist would use

“talkin shit”

“tell you what”

“I might could”


“my friends”


“I know huh””

“_____’s all _____, huh?”


      He entered the book fair, and he knew he would find something nice. He would find a good book, and his Mom would be happy that she helped him.

    “I hope I find something about Transformers,” he said to himself. 

Your goal: “ambiguity”


    He looked over the books. He thought he saw one he liked, but then he turned away because he noticed someone was staring in his direction. Who could it be? Why stare? Chingao, what would happen if someone saw his money?

–next version of story: change pronouns of narrator to third person (now a heterodiegetic narrative)

–All third-person narration is in the past tense

–All spoken dialogue is in the present tense.

–play with some free-indirect discourse

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