Narrative capability is one of the most distinguished gift given to human beings which dwell on each individual in various levels of experience and types of discourses. Theorists put forward a large number of naratives to discuss. What makes the narrative perception so profound issue stems from it having a pivotal role in shaping our world. The aim of this dissertation is to argue the implications of “the narrative jamming”1 upon the narrator and the reader which distorts the verisimilitude of the accounts of the narrator and writer running parallel. This premise will be underpinned by a narrative analysis of Ian McEwan’s “Atonement” Jean-Paul Sartre, in his famous work “Existentialism is a humanism”2 asserts that “Man makes himself” by underlining the morality that is choosen by the mankind. I will adopt this view to “narrator makes its writer” He also claims that “ you are what you live” I will also call it “ you are what you write”. In this regard although these statements seem inextricably interwoven, sometimes you are not able to be what you write. But in which cases does this happen? Is this a direct consequence of the narrrative jamming we experience every day consciously or unconsciously? Roland Barthes explains this natural affinity as follows;
“Narrative starts with the very history of mankind; there is not, there has never been anywhere, any people without narrative; all classes, all human groups, have their stories and very often those stories are enjoyed by men of diffirent and even opposite cultural backgrounds: narrative remains largely unconcerned with good or bad literature. like life itself, it is there, international, transhistorical, transcultural.”
This quotation inspired many researchers on their works as a starting point to the depths of the narrative discourse however, I will be hesitant and barely inclined to agree with that it being “like life itself” as long as and only if the mankind themselves narrates this premise. The reason what causes me to have serious reservation about this point is the same with the notion what led me to have recognized the dual role of the narrative within the entire span of the history of mankind. The narrative is the key player in our life with its dual role as a means of communication with the present and as a device of imitation of the past which also paves the way for the prediction and creates the power of determining or constructing the future. All these come to happen through the triangular interaction which is composed of the narration, the narrator, and the reader. Thus, as the quotation suggests above, narrative can not be confined into a group of writers or some leading intellectuals of a certain elite. It encompasses the whole of the society and spans nearly a complete life from the onset of the childhood to the adulthood for each individual. Some believes even the period of infancy can be conceived within this process.
Let’s have a look at the incident In Ian McEwan’s Atonement, in which Briony Tallis’s pretence of being drowned takes place in the river is a corroborative evidence to this notion. This example directly brings us to the focul point of the ongoing dispute on reliability of the narrator by extention usually the author itself. Many questions arise in the very heat of this argument. To what extent can the narratives be versions of reality? Whose voice is it we hear of? Does the narrator narrate everthing? Can the Subjective identiy be reconstructed ? what is the role of the Narratee amid these debades? All these arguments stem from the uncertainity of the posture what the narrator adopted towards the narrated and the narratee at the exact time of narrating. Here, the narrative time interferes with the core of the problem as another indelible compenent. In order to grasp the argument lets remmber Briony Tallis as an author who just reached the age of 77 in 1999 who finished her last novel, its origin derived from her chidhood and its earliest version from January 1940. As it is clearly seemed, It nearly spans a complete life. But the point is the resulted implication being that “ it will also inevitably span the whole narrative time” from the very beginning of the narrating to the final sentence which will mark the end of the narration. However, we do not know precisely how long it took for Ian Mcewan to finish his novel, but by his novel Atonement he is projecting the very epitome of this process. This instance is mapping the whole history of the narrative but in a way in which many questions arise from the time gaps between the different acts of narrating all along the different acts of writing time. Is it plausible for the narrator to remain the same person while its author is still getting older ? How can an author adopt itself to the continuum mechanics in the diegesis3 of the narrator ? If the narrator is not the one who writes and the writer is not the one who narrates according to the structuralists whose narration is it we read? These are absolutely absorbing questions as relatively much as controversial. These arguments scattering over the subsequent chapters with their relevant subpoints will be debated in direct references to Atonement.
CHAPTER ONE THE LEGACY ON THE COMPLICATIONS OF NARRATİVE THEORY
In this frame there are three levels of communication. First level between the author and reader is “extratexutual” level. The later two levels is “intratextual” level which is one between the narrator and addressee and the other is between the characters themselves. The questions is here whether we can add an additional level by transposing the communicative frame and if possible where the transnarrator should be positioned? Also I am sure that “Implied author and reader”7 had come to mind already pages ago before this question. As a fact of matter but, I deliberately saved this highly controversial argument to the chapter two before plumbing the technical terms getting harder. Since the preconceptions of which conceive the implied author as a reader-generated entity Implied author and implied reader seems to have assessed wrong and excluded from narrative frames without having developed terminologically sufficent, Iwould prefer to say in fact “without giving a chance, focus and attention ineavatable no means of finding a place in such an anticipation” Now lets have a deeper look at our arguments on narrative analysis of Atonement and see what Ian McEwan presents us in order to test our claims and how the attitude of distancing and concealing the writer itself from the reader is changing into “ the desire of the writer is to come back to its reader, is to resurrect its importance and thus reveals itsself to the reader after his/her long enduring absence by stylistics and pragmatics codes left behind herself /himself.
Matrix is an important frame for us in order to understand the complex narrative instances and narrative shifts such as presented in the story line of Atonement. let us have a look at this table below and answer the questions;
Who is the one who takes photo? Whose photo is taken? Is any body else who takes the whole picture? How can we differentiate the actuality of the real photographer from its reflections without having present if our photographers is pictured by some one else? These questions becomes more challenging problems when you begin to read a story within another story and after all if you realize towards the end of it in fact all you read was a part of another story of some one else. In such circumstances, the original narrative level – the last level which is understood by the final revelation – becomes a “matrix narrative” and the story what you have previously read and told by the former narrating character becomes “embedded or hyponarrative” The word “matrix” goes back to ancient times and originated from the latin word “womb” and according to the Oxford Dictionary it means that “the cultural, social, or political environment in which something develops:” and “ late Middle English (in the sense ‘womb’): from Latin, ‘breeding female’, later ‘womb’, from mater, matr- ‘mother’” A matrix narrative must include a hyponarrative which means an intradiegetic narrator will participate in extradigetic level of the story. This is the hardest and momentous part for a writer to create these levels in a harmonious relation between the narrators and characters. Ian McEwan presents us the matrix narrative and hyponarrative with this beginning of the first paragraphe below;
“WHAT A STRANGE time this has been. Today, on the morning of my seventy-seventh birthday, I decided to make one last visit to the Imprerial War Museum library in Lambeth. Is suited my peculiar state of mind. The reading room, house right up in the dome of the building, was formerly the chapel of the Royal Bethlemen Hospital – the old Bedlam. Where the unhinged once come to offer their prayers, scholars now gather to ressearch the collective insanity of the war ” We immideately discover that who speaks to us so far throughout the story as a 3rd. person heterodiegetic omniscient narrator who knows everthing is in fact a delusion and not was it but only a covert form of our latent narrator. Furthermore, we also realize that we know a lot about our new narrator since the three parts what we read was just telling the story of our new narrator. The first what we need to do is to draw the frame of these three parts and final coda. The paragraph below I cited from the Prologue of “The Name Of The Rose” Umberto Eco and I will use its frame in order to show the complications on the frame of tAtonement by comparing and applying them.
“Perhaps, to make more comprehensible the events in which I found myself involved, I should recall what was happening in those last years of the century, as I understood it then, living through it, and as I remember it now, complemented by other stories I heard afterward—if my memory still proves capable of connecting the threads of happenings so many and confused. In the early years of that century Pope Clement V had moved the apostolic seat to Avignon, leaving Rome prey to the ambitions of the local overlords: and gradually the holy city of Christianity had been transformed into a circus, or into a brothel, riven by the struggles among its leaders; though called a republic, it was not one, and it was assailed by armed bands, subjected to violence and looting”
The change is temporal considering the rest of the novel but, let us suppose this is all. We have five “I” , one “my” which project a vocal quality of a homediegetic first person overt narrator who has a limited capacity until the lines which start with“ In the early years…”. The rest of paragraph is told by the third person heterodiegetic narrator. Homodiegetic narrator who takes part in action starts to tell according to his memories something else who does not take action but narrates everthing omnisciently by knowing the reasons of the actions, the correct sequences of the events and of course as a covert narrator. But I need to remind once more according to the whole of the prologue the narrator level does not change but I deliberately cited from The Name of the Rose in order to show that there is also temporal diegesises independently from the primary levels. In fact it could start with a character saying directly “let me tell you a story” or “ okay then, tell me your story” but for a deeper understanding such a tentative and specific example will be more practical in our frame below.
In the first narrative instance A; N1 is the extradiegetic level and narrator is the extradiegetic narrator. It has a homodiegetic voice. S1 is the intradiegetic level which means the world of the characters. When our narrator who is present in action begin to tell a story, S1 intradiegetic level changes into S2 as a metadiegetic level and becomes a hyponarrative in other words “story within story”. N2 is the first person heterodiegetic narrator who is absent in action and also N2 level becomes a matrix. This frame is pretty simple and can be easily applied to all embedded narrative instances.
On Atonement now, we will face with a narrative instance and frame their complexity comparatively raisen by a notch. On Atonement there are three parts and a final coda at the end of the novel so we must carefully determine which paragraphes must be taken and would be exquistely beneficial on our frame. And besides, we have also different frame options since we have now four different parts of narrative insntances on hand. But we have two distinctive parts and I will draw narrative frame according to these parts. As to paragraphes, I will cite one paragraph from both parts and the first of these paragraps will be the beginning sentences of the first paragraph of the part one. The second paragraph will come from the last closing sentences of the last paragraph and novel in the final coda. These two paragraphs also have special bonds between them that the disriminating readers immideately will notice how The trials of Arebella straddles a thin narrative line between diegesis of the first three parts and the diegesis of the final coda. Here is the first paragraph below from the beginning of the novel.
“THE PLAY- for which Briony had desinged the posters, programs and tickets, constructed the sales booth out of a folding screen tipped on its side, and lined the collectipon box in red crepe paper- was written by her in two – day tempest of composition, causin her to miss aa breakfast and a lunch. When the preparations were complete, she had nothing to do but contemplate her finished draft and wait for the appearance of her cousins from the distant north “
n our frame; N is a covert and omniscient third person heterodiegetic narrator. There is no metadiegetic level. Everthing seems to be causal. Our narrator appears to have the capacity for insight into the minds of the characters and knows everthing and have an access into the thoughts of the characters. While everthing is going on its way, we surprisingly come across with a title “LONDON, 1999”. First impression on the reader is a possibility of a flasfback or a more possible time lapse. Let us have a look at the closing sentences of the last paragraph in the coda below and see how the reality is different.
“I like to think that it isnt weakness or evasion, but a final act of kindness, a stand against oblivion and despair, to let my lovers live and to unite them at the end. I agve them happiness, but I was not so self-serving as to let them forgive me. Not quite, not yet. If I had the power to conjure them at my birthday celebration…Robbie and Cecilia, still alive, still in love, sitting side by side in the library, smiling at The Trials of Arabella? It’s not impossible”
Now we are getting the whole picture in order to be able to draw a complete narrative frame of Atonement. But the things will be getting harder this time in compare with our first narrative instance. Let us define what it is like.
We have now a matrix narrative and hyponarrative. N1 is the extradiegetic level on the first person homodiegetic voice. N2 is the intradiegetic level and our intradiegetic N2 narrator is also a homodiegetic narrator which has taken action in narrative as a characer. However we should pay attention to the fact that N2 is changing into heterodiegetic covert narrator in the act of telling the story of Briony in the intradiegetic level on the complete frame so in the intradiegetic level the homodigetic narrator coexists with the heterodiegetic narrator according to the final frame in normal circumstances. However, as I have just mentioned above, the reality is suprisingly different and the whole frame is a misguided attempt to draw as we do not have normal circumstances on Atonement which can easily apply to the narrative frame in such way. Normally, we could conclude that Atonemet is a metefictional novel which is told by a homodiegetic first person and overt narrator in which has another story embedded which is told by a heterodiegetic third person and covert narrator. But this conclusion will be wrong by definition as the frames have one serious oversight which is forgetten in the schemes of the events.
The oversight which is omitted to mention is the fact that we have never a narrator or a character on the coda who starts the act of telling a story or the act of writing a story. Therein lies the problem. Our homodiegetic narrator can narrate a story becoming a heterodigetic narrator in the intradigetic level but in this case it does not and the complications of this shortcoming brings some questions as a fact of matter. We know that Briony is the writer of the first part – the first three parts- of the novel but as we do not have any transitional moment which indicates the metalepsis- narrative change- So one can suggest that the narrator of these three parts is in fact not the heterodigetic but is the same homodigetic narrator of the Coda and vice versa; the narrator of the Coda is in fact not the homodigetic but is the same heterodiegetic narrator before the Coda.
It is now time to remember the picture of narrative matrix. Whose narrative did we read before the Coda if we have a writer and narrator in the intradigetic level who does not tend to start to tell the story to us? The more importantly then, who read the first part to us as a heterodiegetic narrator? Let us remember well on any narrative level; intradiegetic, extradiegetic or metadiegetic all narrators have the privilige to change the narrative voice. This is essential part of all narrative instances for this reason, the same principle can be hypothetically applied to this case by any one who examines these two main parts- the parts before the coda and the coda itself- In order to highlight the problem let us imagine a moment where the narrator of the narrative X and the writer of the narrator of the same narrative X come accross with each other within the same narrative level or diegesis. Could you figure out how it would be like? It sounds like a travelling in time.
If we had a time travelling machine, we could have gone to see ourself in a different time independently from where we exist at present in other words, if we have a travelling device in narrative levels, we could see then by whom we are told will be us. Can it be possible to come accross in the same narrative level? You will remember that I mentioned by underlining the specific reason on my aim to choose The Name Of The Rose before Atonement. In narrative of The Name Of The Rose, our narrative instance was an example of Metalepsis in which the narrator shifts a level and tries to communicate with its reader. But the narrative voice did not come accross with its writer in the same narrative level. In fact we can explain this paradoxical situation in a more simple frame for example; you can tell a story to your friends about an incident what you have witnessed as an outsider or taking part in it two days ago. You become a narrator of the story what you have just told to your friends. But, this happens only within the diegesis what you will create in other words in your own imaginary world. On the other hand, the incident what you remember can not belong to the same diegesis because as a narrator you were in the extradiegetic level whereas you were present, you were in the intradiegetic level as a chracter who takes place in it. So it is imposible for you to exist in the narrative level. However, on Atonement now let us have a look at again the frames below what happens in fact this time by discriminating and labelling who where is.
This frame can be accepted only on condition that the narrator will never takes action in the intradiegetic level. The first or the third person pronouns such as “ I, my,he,she..” do not determine the real narrator. The only thing which can determine whether a narrator is homodiegetic or heterodiegetic is the relation of the narrator to the relevant text. It means that if a narrator is present in action, it is homodiegetic; on the contrary, if it is not present in action, it is a heterodiegetic narrator. We should not forget at this point our writer is Ian Mcewan so we exclude him from the narrative frame and also we have only two narrative levels. But when we labelled the chracters according to the coda we will face with a different framework.
So we can draw such a frame on the base of this principle as follows according to the revelation on the coda.
it seems like everthing unusually changed. We have a homodiegetic narrator now. As you remember well, a homodiegetic narrator can tell a story in a heterodiegetic voice and vice versa. But the problem is that on the coda we face with author Briony as a homodiegetic narrator in which level? Let us see how we can combine the frame of the coda with the frame of the first part of the novel to arrive at a final frame of the novel. Here is new frame of the coda this time its characters labelled below.
Now, our paradox is how our homodiegetic narrator of the coda if it is the author of the first part can be a heterodiegetic narrator in the extradiegetic level? The paradox stems from the fact that the author Briony in the instance 1 is also the same character in the intradiegetic level of the coda. This means that a character turns into the diegesis of narrative level in which it is told. It sounds implausible. Normally a character in the same narrative level can change its narratavie voice from homodi
- Aristotle (1969), “Poetics” translated by Ingram Bywater oxford at the clarendon press
2. H.Porter Abbot (2008), “The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative”, second edition Cambridge University Press) pp 01-24, 67-79
3. Roland Barthes (1968), “The Death of The Author”
4. Roland Barthes (1975), “An Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative” ( The Johns Hopkins University Press pp 237-272
5. Donald Braid (1996), “Personal Narrative and Experiential Meaning” (The Journal of American Folklore) pp5-30
6. L.B. Cebik (1986), “Understanding Narrative Theory” ( History and Theory, Vol,25) pp.58-51
7. Umberto Eco (1990), “The Name of The Rose” ( Warner books edition)
8. Gerard Genette (1972) “Narrative Discourse” (Cornell University Press) pp 212-263 Ian McEvan (2002) , “Atonement” (NAN A. TALESE)
9. Oddee, (2008) Prehistoric Cave Paintings (published under Amazing Art)
11. Schmid, Wolf (2010), “the living handbook of narratology”: “Implied Author”,
12. Paragraph 2. In: Hühn, Peter et al. (eds.): Hamburg: Hamburg University Press.
13. The first People – The Legends,
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17. Amar Yacobi (1981), “Fictional Realiability as a Communicative Problem” (Poetics Today, Vol.2 pp 113-126