Narrative Technique

An Acquisition on Narrative Techniques in the Select Fiction of Eudora Welty

Narrative technique is the logical sequence of events presented to the readers in a way that enables the author to show his talent in conveying the themes which are embodied within the literary work whether it is a novel or a short story. It is the part of Narratology. The study of ‘Narrative’ is called ‘Narratology’. It has its roots in structuralism and it is the study of the ways in which narratives function.

It is not concerned with the content of individual stories but with stories have in common. For better understanding and examination of narrative techniques employed by Eudora Welty, in her fiction, to objectify her ideology and to achieve the thematic concerns, it is necessary to know what to narrative technique consists of.

There are several types of techniques that can be found in many novels or short stories and are important for any writer to think about when beginning writing a literary work.

Any writer who starts to plan the framework of their fiction must choose the point of view that contains the perspective from which an author chooses to tell the story. It determines which characters’ thoughts and feelings are accessible to the reader. For example, in the third person omniscient point of view, the narrator of the story is not a character within the story but an authoritative figure to present the events, and who is able to access the thoughts and feelings of all the characters.

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Second, is the first person limited point of view, where the reader focuses on a single and only has access this person’s thoughts and feelings. In the first person point of view, the narrator is a character in the story who directly relates his experiences. Third, is the second person point of view, the narrator directly addresses a “you”, the reader, sharing what he or she does, feels and thinks.

The first function of the narrative technique is to determine the manner of sending the information to spectators. After that, when people or what is known as the characters begin to speak, then the author needs a dialogue that characters use to tell their stories. This technique has two types; the first one is the dialogue which is directly spoken by two characters. The second type is when the author speaks about himself or his feeling. Then the author needs to specify the time in which the events of the story took place.

The fiction of Eudora Welty, one of America’s most distinguished authors, provides an unusual opportunity for study of narrative technique. Her work contains a variety of narrative modes, and her methods of narration are precise instruments for developing structure, theme and characterization. Welty creates a self-contained world, a fictional illusion that is modeled usually after the contemporary world in Mississippi, though occasionally after its historical or mythical antecedents. A perspective or set of perspectives developed and focused to regard it from some fixed mode of vision. It is described by a voice that is consistent structurally and represents sometimes the narrator’s perspective but at other times developed either objectively or subjectively. Welty’s first volume of short stories, A Curtain of Green, contains narration representative of all the kinds she uses in herlater works, and the methods used in the stories of this first volume cover the range of general possibilities inherent in her concept of point of view.

Before proceeding to Welty’s works of fiction, however,it is well to consider some remarks that Miss Welty has made in one ofher essay. Place in Fiction, upon subjects relevant to her methods ofnarration. She suggests in this essay a close relationship between thefictional material and the narrator, and another between the narrator andthe author. She seems to regard the narrator’s perspective, especiallywhen it is external, as an idealized authorial perspective, defining theauthor’s role as an artist and crystallizing his relationship to thestory material, without ever becoming a subjective self-portrait of theauthor.

Welty’s design in Place in Fiction is to show the importanceof place as a critical concept based on locale, and her method is toanalyze its importance in terms of three of its significant relationships.She first considers the relationship of place to the raw materials of writing. Then she considers its significance in relation to the writingitself and the achieved world of appearance, through which the novelist hashis whole say and puts his whole case. Concerning this relationship Welty suggests a transformation of raw material into a unified form ofarticulation for the artist’s vision. Finally she considers the questionof place in connection with the writer himself, and it is in this portionof the essay that she discusses her concept of point of view. Weltysays that place is where he has his roots, place is where he stands; inhis experience out of which he writes it provides the base of reference,in his work the point of view. Later, in developing this idea, shedefines point of view as the resolution of the question of Place in Fictionin relation to the writer:

One of the most important things the young writer comes to seefor himself is that point of view is^ an instrument, not an end initself, that it is useful as a glass, and not as a mirror to reflecta dear and pensive face. Conscientiously used, point of view willdiscover, explore, see through–it may sometimes divine and prophesy.

Misused, it turns opaque almost at once and gets in the way of thebook. And when the good novel is finished, its cooled outside shape,what Sean O’Faolain has called “the veil of reality,” has all theburden of communicating that initial, spontaneous, overwhelming,driving charge of personal inner feeling that was the novel’s reasonfor being. The measure of this representation of life correspondsmost tellingly with the novel’s life-expectancy: whenever its worldof outside appearance grows dim or false to the eye, the novel hasexpired.(On Writing. P.50)

Welty states in this passage that point of view is the author’s meansof objectify his whole mind as an intensifying, ordering and clarifyingagent of the world that he envisions. She considers it necessary that theartist filter his really personal image out of the fictional illusion. However, if he does not the reader will see both of those pictures thatthe artist has seen: his own and the world. The artist’s task is tomake the reader see only the artist’s picture, while under the illusionthat it is the worlds. For this task to succeed, the artist must revealHimself in his work only as his picture expresses the essence of his mindat work. The reader must be able to sense the artist’s act of creation,originally a process in the real world, only as it lingers as distilledenergy behind the fictional world. The successful artist usespoint of view to achieve a spiritual presence in his fictional world for unless his act of creationreflects upon that fictional world. It is just a reproduction of the world’spicture and not true art at all.

Welty says that essential to true art is the constant and subtle and unfolded reference between the artists’picture and the world’s, for true art must bear the stamp of this reference,the imaginative interpretation of life that it implies. The artistmust therefore make his creative act be felt within the veil of reality asthe tension of that constant reference, inherent in the “cooled outsideshape” that must communicate it. Otherwise, point of view becomes a”mirror” reflecting the artist’s own “dear and pensive face,” and thenthe reader sees both pictures. Welty thus considers point of view as the means by which theartist gives birth to his work out of his struggle to create, the universalendeavor to create order out of disorder, design out of chaos, meaning outof confusion. The two pictures are the opposing terms of this dichotomy,and the artist’s picture acquires its tone and texture from his mode ofrefining of the world’s picture into his own. Yet he must transform theworld’s picture without allowing it to lose the reverberation of his ownstruggle to create, for this echo makes the fictional illusion believableas an image of life and thus allows the reader to experience the illusionthat the artist’s picture is actually the worlds.

Welty’s fiction usually reveals an inner drama of the human consciousness. She intensely focuses upon the individual character and reveals his special perceptions by having him, directly or indirectly, unfold the narrative and shape its fictional world. When Welty uses first-person techniques, her narrators usually stand in an ironic relation to the story. In much of her work a seemingly omniscient third-person narrator indirectly reveals the way each character envisions his surroundings, thus creating an interdependence of world and character, an enveloping atmosphere which seems to spring from the imagination of the character it surrounds. In A Piece of News the reader is not concerned with the raging storm outside the Fisher’s cabin as merely a bit of background complementing the story’s action, but as a mirror of Ruby’s consciousness. The reader is finally aware only of Ruby’s vision of the story, which reveals her way of seeing things and provides the reader witha meaningful way of “seeing” the story, itself.

There is a narrative device in A Petrified Nan however, which resembles one which Welty uses in her fiction of first person. It is interesting that, technically, the “story” concerns Leota and Mrs. Fletcher, but their situation and center of interest involves another story concerning Mrs. Pike and her expose of the petrified man. Leota tells the story of Mrs. Pike to Mrs. Fletcher with much the same naive directness as the sister in Why I Live at the P.O. and Edna Earle in The Ponder Heart tell their stories to unnamed visitors. This technique of a second story within the central narrative becomes even more complex in works like Powerhouse and Old Mr. Harblehall. In each of these works, unlike “Petrified Man, ” the first person narrator takes on a many-sided nature, and he assumes dramatically two conflicting personalities that is one public and one private.

The result of Welty’s narrative first person technique stories which reveal the world and the private (as well as public) vision of this world by a narrator-protagonist. It was pointed out previously that Welty’s method of characterization in most of her stories was that of having her characters reveal themselves. The result of this method was shown to be a world whichenveloped the story, shaped by the private vision (or visions) of its characters. Most of her third person fiction, which tells itself quickly shifts from any omniscient authorial narration to the point of view of its characters. Welty’s third person techniques, which enable the reader to see into the minds of her characters also provide her works with a carefully woven structure of private visions, creating the fiction’s total world, at the same time commenting ironically on each other. In Delta Wedding, Welty uses a multiple consciousness technique which, in its shifts from character to character, affects the structure of the novel. It makes good sense, for example, that the first view of the Delta country and of Shellmound and “all those Fairchilds”would be through the eyes of an outsider and, because of .the pastoral form of the novel, a child’s.

Eudora Welty uses many themes throughout her literary work that is illustrated as racism, responsibility, initiations, coming of age, belonging, as well as many other that are found throughout her literary pieces. A Worn Path is a story with many different themes shown throughout it. It is considered by many to be the best writing that Welty ever did. Because Eudora Welty was a writer from Mississippi in the 1940-1950’s most of her writing was influenced by the theme of race and racism. In A Worn Path, Welty shows the theme of race and racism by the encounters in which her characters experience along the story. During the time period in which the story was written, it was common for a Caucasian person to call blacks by aunt, granny, or uncle as a way of labeling them instead of speaking to them as an individual by their name. Welty often found herself using themes that were influenced by Greek mythology and beliefs. The theme of resurrection is found within A Worn Path by looking into the character of Phoenix. When examine Greek mythology, see that a phoenix was a bird that actually rose from its ashes to restart a new life. Just as the phoenix mythological bird is resurrected, the character Phoenix is resurrected because she refuses to give up and die. Duty and responsibility is seen through A Worn Path as the character Phoenix had a strong sense of duty to take care of her grandson as he has no one else to tend to him. Not only did Phoenix have a sense of duty to care for him, but she felt that it was her responsibility to see he got everything that he needed like when she was determined to make it into town to get the medication that he needed for his throat. The main themes in which sum up A Worn Path are race, duty and responsibility, and resurrection. Welty uses these themes to allow the reader to experience firsthand struggle in which the characters encounter.

Moon Lake is a short story that Eudora Welty wrote in 1947 with the themes of identity, belonging, initiation, and coming of age. In Moon Lake, there are two characters that are prepared to see a new view of what reality is. Loch Morrison, and the girls both experience initiation and they are both connected to the revelation of the male power and energy. Loch Morrison initiation comes from not hunting like most males experience, but instead through the heroism and salvation. This story depicts the theme of coming of age and the group of girls start to notice the lifeguard Loch Morrison as he is ever so careful to stay to himself. Welty speaks of Easter who almost drowns in the lake is rescued by Loch, only for it to be perceived as a sexual act to the other lady. Throughout the entire story Welty speaks of feminine scenes which are reinforced by masculine energy. Identity is within this short story as a whole is applied to the orphan girls who do not have a true sense of who they are. They simply give themselves certain names and identities as does Easter. They are not rooted deeply within the town because they are known as unwanted or outcast. Jinny love on the other hand knows exactly who she is as her identity is defined by the adult world. Her identity is given to her with approval from society. Nina on the other hand is an individual who is not happy being just her, she wants to know what life is like for others. She has a very private sense of her own identity as she feels very isolated. Moon lake has a theme of belonging as all of the orphan girl have a sense of unity being at the camp. They feel as if they all fit in and are needed by each other. The orphans have no other sense of identity except for what they know when they are together at the camp. Belonging to the group of orphans gives them a sense of identity and family that they long for.

The art of narration is the work of the artist; it is the artist or the author who makes it successful. He should be an experienced campaigner to make it better and best. These skills were successfully presented by the great twentieth century writer, Eudora Welty. She handled with ease and produced great work of fiction.

WORKS CITED

  1. Prince, Gerald. Narratology: The Form and Functions of Narrative. Berlin: Mounton, 1982.
  2. Booth, Wayne C. The Rhetoric of Fiction. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1965.
  3. Ransom, John Crowe. Delta Fiction, Kenyon Review: VIII (Summer, 1946)
  4. Welty,Eudora.How I Write. Reprinted in Understanding Fiction.Cleanth Brooks and
  5. Robert Penn Warren (eds.). New York: Appleton Century Crofts, Incorporated,
  6. 1959.
  7. Welty,Eudora.Place in Fiction, South Atlantic Quarterly, LV (January, 1956)
  8. Welty,Eudora.On Writing, Modern Library, 2002.
  9. An Acquisition on Narrative Techniques in the Select Fiction of Eudora Welty
  10. K.Sankari, Research Scholar, AVVM Sri Pushpam College (Autonomous),

ABSTRACT

Eudora Welty is one of America’s most distinguished authors, provides an unusual opportunity for study of narrative technique. Her work contains a variety of narrative modes, and her methods of narration are precise instruments for developing structure, theme andcharacterization. Welty creates a self-contained world, a fictional illusion that is modeled usually after the contemporary world in Mississippi, though occasionally after its historical or mythical antecedents. A perspective or set of perspectives developed and focused to regard it from some fixed mode of vision. It is described by a voice that is consistent structurally and represents sometimes the narrator’s perspective but at other times instead a non-narrating characters, developed either objectively or subjectively.Before proceeding to her works of fiction, however,it is well to consider some remarks that Miss Welty has made in one ofher essayPlace in Fiction.

Eudora Welty uses many themes throughout her literary work that is illustrated as racism, responsibility, initiations, coming of age, belonging, as well as many other that are found throughout her literary pieces.The study deals with the significance of narrative techniques which are useful, related and also the base for the readers to study and understand the selected fiction of Eudora Welty.

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Narrative Technique. (2019, Dec 10). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/narrative-technique-essay

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