Jennifer Balli
Professor Alvarez
English 363
14 September 2011

“She Lived in a Story”: A Two-Bedroom House

  Guillermo Samperio’s “She Lived in a Story” presents readers with a narrative told from distinct perspectives by characters who share similar thoughts and notions. The story begins with the first narrator, a third-person narrator, stating that Guillermo Segovia has just left a lecture which he has given, contemplating emotions and characters as presented within a text. While driving home, Guillermo Segovia considers the similarities between an architect and a writer, and a house and text, respectively. Segovia concludes that:

‎  ‎  “The architect who lives in a house that he designed and built himself is
‎  ‎  one of the few persons who may live in his fantasy. From his own
‎  ‎  perspective, the author is an artificer of the word, he designs stories and
‎  ‎  sentences so that the reader may live in the text.” (Samperio 55)

‎  Segovia comments that an architect and an author are alike because they are both creators of art, which manifests the ideas of the creative mind and exists for the benefit and enjoyment of the artist, as well as others. Segovia believes that “‘To live in a text,’ he insisted, despite his mental blanks” (56) must be a gateway into a new perspective and understanding of one’s environment and conscious mind. Segovia then becomes so fixated on the idea of a character existing and living within a text, that he resolves to write a story about a beautiful actress named Ofelia. When the story transitions into that of Ofelia’s, Guillermo Segovia immediately draws the reader into her mysterious world of possible danger. Ofelia’s constant paranoia and awareness of being watched by an unidentified entity lures the reader into Ofelia’s world, or what Guillermo Segovia may call her house. As Ofelia’s voice takes the role of first-person narrator, readers are presented with a new perspective that shifts to parallel that of Segovia’s. Ofelia writes consciously of the watchful eye observing her every action and every move, but comments that Guillermo Segovia, now a character within the text himself, would need to understand that “he is not being watched, but that he lives inside a gaze, that he is now part of a new way of seeing” (61). In this instance, the readers are presented with Ofelia’s analysis of Segovia’s character, which reveals a new point of view and insight into Segovia’s own paranoid  and anxious thoughts. Ofelia immediately follows this notion with Segovia having literally burned the pages of this manuscript, or her house and world, unable to come to terms with the idea that he too exists within the text (61). Based on both Guillermo Segovia  and Ofelia’s thoughts and behaviors, if one is to consider the metaphor of similarities between the house and text, the reader is presented with two rooms in the same house or text. Because the narrative begins with a third-person omniscient narrator, one can imagine that perhaps it is this narrator, whose voice may be that of Guillermo Samperio himself, who first builds the house and then allows Segovia to live in it, who then rents a room to Ofelia. Guillermo Segovia writes about Ofelia so that she may exist within a text, allowing the two creations, both the character and text, to figuratively come to life. However, when Ofelia is given a first-person narrative voice, it is as though Segovia is pulled into the text himself, and now lives alongside Ofelia in the house.

Samperio, Guillermo. “She Lived in a Story.” New Writing from Mexico: A
‎  TriQuarterly Collection of Newly Translated Prose and Poetry. TriQuartely
‎  Books. Web. 13 Sept. 2011.
‎  <http://363hispanlit.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/files/2011/08/Samperio-She-Lived-
‎  in-a-Story.pdf
>

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2 Responses to “Response 1: “She Lived in a Story”: A Two-Bedroom House”

  1.   salvarez said:

    Jennifer, nice title, I like how you have the colon in there: that’s the “academic format”. You’re missing a few elements, but we’ll work on those for the next response. There’s a certain formula that scholars follow when writing titles for their articles.

    Is the third-person the same as what Jahn would call heterodiegetic narrator? How does Segovia change from a heterodiegetic narrator to a homodiegetic one? Maybe the difference between being a narrator and a character? I ask you these questions in the hopes that you’ll practice peppering in some of the Jahn terms in the P and E sections of your PIE paragraphs. Use the terms to give your interpretations some jargon-weight. It makes the interpretations sound scientific or smart–or with scholarly depth.

    If the quote you cite is longer than three lines, then you don’t use quotation marks.

    I quoted the E section you have here below, and I offered some comments in CAPS:

    “Segovia comments that an architect and an author are alike because they are both creators of art, OR ARE THEY CONSTRUCTORS? ART INVOLVES CONSTRUCTION OF THE ART ITSELF, LIKE THE PIECES THAT MAKE UP NARRATIVES, OR WHAT THE STUDY OF NARRATOLOGY UNCOVERS which manifests NICE VERB the ideas of the creative mind and exists for the benefit and enjoyment of the artist, as well as others. Segovia believes that “‘To live in a text,’ he insisted, despite his mental blanks” (56) must be a gateway into a new perspective and understanding of one’s environment and conscious mind. WHAT’S MEANT BY THE MENTAL BLANKS? YOU COULD ALSO CONSIDER HOW JAHN DESCRIBES “SPACE” IN NARRATIVES: HOW NARRATIVES CREATE A SENSE OF DEPTH OR SHALLOWNESS, AND ALSO OF THE EXPANSES OF A FICTIONAL WORLD (THINK ALSO OF DON QUIXOTE ROAMING ACROSS THE COUNTRYSIDE) Segovia then becomes so fixated on the idea of a character existing and living within a text WELL THAT IS WHERE CHARACTERS LIVE, that he resolves to write a story about a beautiful actress named Ofelia. DON’T THINK THIS SENTNECE IS CLEAR When the story transitions into that of Ofelia’s, Guillermo Segovia immediately draws the reader into her mysterious world of possible danger. Ofelia’s constant paranoia and awareness of being watched by an unidentified entity lures the reader into Ofelia’s world, or what Guillermo Segovia may call her house. ALSO CONSIDER HOW FOCALIZATION CONTRIBUTES TO THE SPACE OF THE NARRATIVE OR WHERE THE NARRATIVE’S GAZE LANDS. ARCHITECTS DEAL WITH SPACE, SO DO NARRATORS BUT IN DIFFERENT WAYS. ALL ARTISTS DO ACTUALLY As Ofelia’s voice takes the role of first-person narrator, HOMODIEGETIC NARRATOR FOCALIZATION SHIFTS TO OFELIA readers are presented with a new POINT OF VIEW OR FOCALIZED perspective that shifts to parallel that of Segovia’s. Ofelia writes consciously of the watchful eye observing her every action and every move, but comments that Guillermo Segovia, NOW HOMODIEGETIC OR HETERODIEGETIC? now a character within the text himself, would need to understand that “he is not being watched, but that he lives inside a gaze, that he is now part of a new way of seeing” (61). In this instance, the readers are presented with Ofelia’s analysis of Segovia’s character, which reveals a new point of view FOCALIZATION / HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO ‘MOOD’ ACCORDING TO JAHN? and insight into Segovia’s own paranoid and anxious thoughts. Ofelia immediately follows this notion with Segovia having literally burned the pages of this manuscript, or her house and world, unable to come to terms with the idea that he too exists within the text (61). THIS NEXT PART COULD BE THE BEGINNING OF A PARAGRAPH–MAYBE FOR LATER WRITING. Based on both Guillermo Segovia and Ofelia’s thoughts and behaviors, if one is to consider the metaphor of similarities between the house and text, the reader is presented with two rooms in the same house or text. Because the narrative begins with a third-person omniscient narrator, one can imagine that perhaps it is this narrator, whose voice may be that of Guillermo Samperio himself, who first builds the house and then allows Segovia to live in it, who then rents a room to Ofelia. Guillermo Segovia writes about Ofelia so that she may exist within a text, allowing the two creations, both the character and text, to figuratively come to life. THAT’S A COOL IDEA: BUT NOTICE IT STILL DEALS WITH SPACE, BUT THIS TIME ABOUT OWNERSHIP ABOUT SPACE, AND ALSO NARRATION OF DIFFERENT CHARACTERS WITHIN SPACE. CHECK OUT THE JAHN SECTION WHEN HE WRITES ABOUT SPACE IN NARRATIVES TO GIVE YOU SOME IDEAS ABOUT FOLLOWING UP ON SOME OF THE GOOD STUFF YOU’VE WRITTEN HERE However, when Ofelia is given a first-person narrative voice, it is as though Segovia is pulled into the text himself, and now lives alongside Ofelia in the house.”

    Great job with all the quoted evidence. Like I wrote above, check out the Jahn stuff about space, and see if you can see what he’s getting at with his way of thinking about how narratives create effects of space. Really all the space has to be imagined, and this is something that artists have in common when creating.

    As for the citation, that’s the right form for some sources, but for this one, no. You should cite it like it was a paper journal article, because I didn’t publish it in its original form. The copyright information I gave you was for you to find the source. It was never published online–I just reproduced it for the class so you wouldn’t have to buy it.

    4.5 out of 5 possible points.

  2.   salvarez said:

    Jennifer, nice job with the PIE paragraph. I think you have the shape down well enough. You also reserved the most material for the E section, which is very important. Remember, when you use a block quote (more than four lines) you don’t need to use quotation marks.

    Be sure to try to pepper some of the Jahn terms into your responses. Adding some of the critical vocabulary to your words will make your interpetations deeper, and also will add critical weight to your words, making you sound like an authority when reading literature. It’s a little trick, but also a way for you to participate in the larger discussion among those folks who study English and who speak with such cumbersome language.

    As for what you wrote here, I like the idea of focusing on the “architecture” of a text. Jahn writes about his idea when he covers “space” in his treatise. You might review what he mentions about that in the article. I offered some advice on your E section here below. I’ve copied and pasted your E section, and I added my comments in CAPS:

    “Segovia comments that an architect and an author are alike because they are both creators of art, which manifests NICE VERB the ideas of the creative mind and exists for the benefit and enjoyment of the artist, as well as others. RIGHT: BUT ALSO THE IDEA THAT ART AND ARCHITECTURE ARE CONSTRUCTIONS, BASED ON IMAGINATIONS OF SPACE REALLY. Segovia believes that “‘To live in a text,’ he insisted, despite his mental blanks” (56) WHAT DOES ‘MENTAL BLANKS’ MEAN IN THIS CASE? must be a gateway into a new perspective and understanding of one’s environment and conscious mind. BUT WHAT ABOUT THOSE BLANKS THEN? WHAT IF THERE ARE BLANKS IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF A HOUSE? HINT: CONSTRUCTING A SPACE IN LITERARY NARRATIVE REQUIRES LOTS OF EMPTY SPACE, IN FACT, MOSTLY EMPTY SPACE. Segovia then becomes so fixated on the idea of a character existing and living within a text, that he resolves to write a story about a beautiful actress named Ofelia. RIGHT, ABOUT A CHARACTER LIVING AS A CHARACTER, AND WRITING HER OWN CHARACTER; HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO THE IDEA OF AN ARCHITECT IMAGINING A HOUSE INTO EXISTENCE? WHAT WOULD BE SEGOVIA’S BLUEPRINT PLAN? When the story transitions into that of Ofelia’s, Guillermo Segovia immediately draws the reader into her mysterious world of possible danger. Ofelia’s constant paranoia and awareness of being watched GOOD, HOW DOES HE ‘CONSTRUCT’ THIS AS AN ARCHITECT? by an unidentified entity lures the reader into Ofelia’s world, or what Guillermo Segovia may call her house. As Ofelia’s voice takes the role of first-person narrator, readers are presented with a new perspective that shifts to parallel that of Segovia’s. A SHIFT IN POINT OF VIEW MEANS WE CAN BRING IN THE TERM FOCALIZATION AS WELL. Ofelia writes consciously of the watchful eye observing her every action and every move, but comments that Guillermo Segovia, now a character within the text himself, GOOD: SO THERE’S A DISTINCTION BETWEEN NARRATOR AND NARATEE (OR NARRATED) THAT ALSO SHIFTS WITHIN THE DIFFERENT LEVELS OF THE STORY would need to understand that “he is not being watched, but that he lives inside a gaze, that he is now part of a new way of seeing” (61). GOOD NICE JOB MIXING YOUR WORDS WITH THAT OF THE TEXT In this instance, the readers are presented with Ofelia’s analysis of Segovia’s character, which reveals a new point of view and insight into Segovia’s own paranoid and anxious thoughts. GOOD: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE FOCALIZATION HAPPENING HERE THEN? EXTERNAL TO INTERNAL TO EXTERNAL? Ofelia immediately follows this notion with Segovia having literally burned the pages of this manuscript, or her house and world, unable to come to terms with the idea that he too exists within the text (61). Based on both Guillermo Segovia and Ofelia’s thoughts and behaviors, if one is to consider the metaphor of similarities between the house and text, the reader is presented with two rooms in the same house or text. OKAY, BUT AGAIN, CONSIDER HOW SPACE HAPPENS IN JAHN, AND THEN HOW SPACE GETS NARRATED IN THE STORY? THERE’S THE SPACE OF SEGOVIA’S HOUSE, THEN THE OPEN SPACE OF THE EMPTY CITY OFELIA WALKS ALONE IN, THEN THE PARK, THERE ARE A FEW PLACES. Because the narrative begins with a third-person omniscient narrator, one can imagine that perhaps it is this narrator, whose voice may be that of Guillermo Samperio himself, who first builds the house and then allows Segovia to live in it, who then rents a room to Ofelia. WELL MAYBE, BUT ALSO THINK ABOUT HOW THAT ROOM CANNOT COME INTO EXISTENCE UNLESS NARRATED, AND THE POER OF THE NARRATOR TO CREATE SPACE FROM NOTHINGNESS, EVEN THOUGH THE SPACE IS IMAGINARY, OR A FICTION. IN WHICH CASE, ALL ARCHITECTS ARE THE SAME: THEY USE THEIR IMAGINATIONS TO CREATE A FICTIONAL SPACE THAT DOESN’T EXIST. Guillermo Segovia writes about Ofelia so that she may exist within a text, allowing the two creations, both the character and text, to figuratively come to life. However, when Ofelia is given a first-person narrative voice, it is as though Segovia is pulled into the text himself, and now lives alongside Ofelia in the house.”

    Keep up with those terms. I can tell you have the close-reading skills down, but I need to see that you’re able to sprinkle some of those ideas from Jahn into your words. You’ll notice after you start to get the hang of them how your interpretations will deepen, or sound more “scientific” so to speak.

    Finally, the MLA is off for the Samperio story. It wasn’t published online; I reproduced for the class, but the original publication date information is found on the PDF. It’s also not a book but a periodical, a special issue of a magazine/journal about writing from Mexico. It was a good effort with that though.

    4.5 out of 5 possible points.

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