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The best stories are those that draw the reader into the plot, they create a certain level of anticipation, foreboding and incite in the reader the feeling of actually being within the story itself and experiencing the same feelings, the same terror or even the same happiness as the characters within.
In the case of the stories “A Family Supper” by Kazuo Ishiguro and “Naema – Whereabouts Unknown” by Mohammed Dib, the narrator acts as the focal point that draws readers into the story and acts as a means of delving into current events and the back story of the plot points utilized.
Told through narration, “A Family Supper” and “Naema” contribute significantly to a reader’s sense of “living the plot” thereby creating an interesting and entertaining story.
Naema – Shock and Grief
The narrator of Naema contributes to the sense of the reader living the plot through his depiction of the stages of shock, grief and despair. In Naema, readers are presented with the story of an unnamed narrator who is searching for his wife.
The setting of the plot is during the Franco-Algerian war which was rife with instances of inhuman brutality with thousands killed on a massive scale both during the fighting and in the numerous concentration camps (Maerhofer, 204-221).
The narrator in effect describes the feeling of utter helplessness at not being able to find his wife, his consternation at not knowing whether she is alive or dead and his anger at the situation in general. The means of narration within the story is one where the author attempts to convey to the reader the feelings of grief and despair felt by the unnamed narrator through a depiction of the events and the character’s feelings.
In effect, Mohammed Dib attempts to make the character relatable by having him unnamed and making the reader feel as if he/she is in the same situation as the narrator (Maerhofer, 204-221). Evidence of this can be seen in the phrase “Not to know where she is, what they have done to her is a torment” as well as the phrase “wait, that’s all that’s left to us“.
These general statements are relatable to a certain extent given that many people have felt similar despair when presented with the concept of “not knowing” as well as “having to wait”. Such concepts are rife throughout people’s lives and, as such, are easily relatable.
Family Supper – Understanding the Past
The method of narration in the story “The Family Supper” draws readers in to understand the reason why the narrator left without actually stating it outright. While it may not seem evident the following phrase helps to encapsulate the essence of the narration within the story: “We fell silent again. The sound of locusts came in from the garden. I looked out into the darkness. The well was no longer visible“.
The focus given by the narrator on the well was actually based on what the well represented, in a sense it was a source of childhood fears, a part of the unknown, yet when reading the story it becomes evident that the ghost of old woman that the narrator associated with the well was not actually a ghost but his own mother (Lewis, 1- 3).
This is evidenced by the following phrase from the story “‘Your mother.’ His voice had become very hard. ‘Can’t you recognize your own mother?“. This refers to the old woman that the narrator saw in a photo that he thought was the ghost from his memories of the well but was actually his mother.
Throughout the story readers are presented with hints about why the narrator left, such as being due to the woman Vicki or even due to the sternness of his own mother. It was seen that the narrator apparently associated an image of fear (i.e. the ghost) with that of his mother which implies that he viewed his mother with fear, or even contempt, and this was the reason why he left in the first place (Ingersoll, 1- 2).
Considering the fact that the narrator even goes so far to state that he had never learned the cause of his mother’s death until recently implies that he did not even go to Japan for her funeral thereby solidifying the claim that they were not on good terms.
Naema – Imagination
Through an explanation of the context of events within the story Naema, the narrator is able to instill in readers a sense of foreboding which causes them to imagine the possible horrors that occurred to the unnamed author’s wife. At the very start of the story the following phrase can be seen “The Bedeau barracks, the prisoners held there are considered to be hostages; dreadful things are said about what happens to them“.
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At the very start of the story, this particular reference to a horrific concentration camp/barracks draws readers in by inclining them to imagine what horrors could possibly await the wife of the narrator within such a place.
While not expressly stated nor elaborated on, this particular facet of the narration helps to draw readers in by making them want to know what happened to the wife of the narrator, whether she lived, died, or was found in the end.
It is the sense of “not knowing” that drives readers to imagine, wanting to know more and, as a result, draws them into the story to understand more about what could have possibly happened and what was the initial cause of the disappearance (Asibong, 349-356).
Based on what has been presented in this paper so far, it can be seen that told through narration, “A Family Supper” and “Naema” contribute significantly to a reader’s sense of “living the plot” thereby creating an interesting and entertaining story.
Asibong, Andrew. “Radically Fantastical: The Politics Of The Truth-Event In The “Metic” Novels Of Mohammed Dib And Marie Ndiaye.” Contemporary French & Francophone Studies 14.4 (2010): 349-356. Literary Reference Center. Web.
Ingersoll, Earl G. “Kazuo Ishiguro.” Cyclopedia Of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition (2003): 1-2. Literary Reference Center. Web.
Lewis, Leon. “A Family Supper.” Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition (2004): 1-3. Literary Reference Center. Web.
Maerhofer, John W. “Algeria “Revisited”: Imperialism, Resistance, And The Dialectic Of Violence In Mohammed Dib’s “The Savage Night..” College Literature 37.1 (2010): 204-221. Teacher Reference Center. Web.