Jennifer Balli
Professor Alvarez
English 363
19 October 2011

Caught Somewhere In Time: Time Analysis in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Nabo: The Black Man Who Made The Angels Wait

    In Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short story, Nabo: The Black Man Who Made The Angels Wait, Nabo’s timeline becomes distorted after he suffers a head injury. While time outside of his own reality continues to occur at its fixed pace, Nabo continuously experiences the day after having been hit in the head by a horse, which becomes his reality, or a moment suspended in his own time stream. To understand how time functions in Marquez’s story, one can consider the frequent use of anachronies. Manfred Jahn explains that an anachrony is:

“a deviation from strict chronology in a story. The two main types of anachrony are flashbacks and flashforwards. If the anachronically presented event is factual, it is an objective anachrony; a character’s visions of future or memory of past events are subjective anachronies. Repetitive anachronies recall already narrated events; completive anachronies present events which are omitted in the primary story line”. (Manfred Jahn N5.2.1)

In other words, an actual flashback, or objective anachrony, reveals to readers information from an individual character’s or characters’ past which had not been previously stated. If the flashback or even a flashforward indicates or reveals a character’s opinions, feelings, or thoughts, then the memory or vision can be thought of as a subjective anachrony. Repetitive anachronies are often used to reiterate events that have already been stated, while completive anachronies are used to reveal new information. These various types of deviations are used throughout Nabo: The Black Man Who Made The Angels Wait in order to provide readers with a unique narrative and reading experience. For example, objective anachronies are used to describe the type of person that Nabo was prior to his injury. From Marquez’s use of objective anachronies, readers learn that Nabo had been hardworking, a talented singer, and went to the town square on Saturdays to listen to music, where he observed the saxophone player. Marquez’s use of repetitive anachronies are used to remind readers of events that have already occurred, but also to bring them back to the present after having read an objective anachrony. For instance, after deviating from the present timeline to recount how the mute girl had learned how to wind the crank on the gramophone, the narrative returns to the first day that Nabo had begun complaining about his injury, thus beginning his entrance into his own timeline.
As time continued to progress in reality, Nabo became oblivious to anything outside of his own timeline. The saxophone player who seemed to often be present when Nabo awoke became an indication of how much time had passed in the real world in comparison to the amount of time Nabo believes had passed. In response to Nabo’s frequent accounts of his injury, the man first explains that a few days had passed, then two years, then finally that Nabo had “been saying that for centuries and in the meantime we’ve been waiting for you in the choir” (Marquez 79). Although the man was probably exaggerating about the passing of time, it is a clear indication of how detached Nabo had become from the timeline of reality.

Works Cited
Jahn, Manfred. 2005. Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative. English
Department, University of Cologne. 28 May 2005. Web. 18 Oct. 2011.

Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. “Nabo: The Black Man Who Made the Angels Wait.” Collected
Stories. Trans. Gregory Rabassa and J. S. Bernstein. New York: Harper, 1999. 73-82.

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One Response to “Response 3”

  1.   salvarez said:

    Jennifer, some great analysis/close reading of the text here. I’m noticing that your analyses of the literature are really developing, meaning that your interpretations are getting deeper. You should credit this with some of the “tools” Jahn offers for reading the elements of narratives, like you did here with time.

    Bear in mind, the next few rounds of your responses I’ll be taking off points for too much “to be” verbs. I hope that in-class activity showed you some words you use too much. Here I see lots of “to be” verbs, as well as the very “to use”. You’ll want to make sure to always use the best word for the job in each sentnece. Don’t discourage yourself from writing to be verbs, though, but go back during revision to put new, better verbs in.

    The title looks great, but don’t forget to put the titles of short stories in quotation marks, same goes with the body of the response.

    The works cited needs to be in alphabetical order after you fix Garcia Marquez’s citation. Remember to include both his last names, so it reads, Garcia Marquez, Gabriel.

    Block quotes, as well, do not have quotation marks around them.

    I think you’ll find some interesting connections with The People of Paper, right?

    4.5 out of 5 possible points.

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