Jennifer Balli
Professor Alvarez
English 363
7 November 2011

Saturn and The Narrative Voices in Salvador Plascencia’s The People of Paper

  The People of Paper, by Salvador Plascencia, is written from several distinct points of view. The narrative experiments with the various types of narrators in order to lure readers into an already unique narrative experience. With the exception of the prologue, which is narrated by a heterodiegetic narrator, the entire book is narrated by various homodiegetic narrators. In “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative”, Manfred Jahn argues that a homodiegetic narrative is a story “told by a (homodiegetic) narrator who is also one of the story’s acting characters” and a heterodiegetic narrative is a story “told by a (heterodiegetic) narrator who is not present as a character in the story” (Jahn N1.10). In essence, an active character or participant, present during the events of the narrative would be considered as a homodiegetic narrator. A heterodiegetic narrator, on the other hand, only recounts the events in respect to characters who are actively present during the events and therefore is not an active participant or character during the events presented in the narrative. Throughout The People of Paper, many of the homodiegetic narrators, such as Froggy, Sandra, and Little Merced, express their constant fear and paranoia of the always present Saturn. In doing so, readers gain a better understanding of the characters’ true personalities and how they are directly affected by Saturn’s presence. The characters wage war on their creator, who they believe should not have the ability to observe their every action or know their private thoughts.
  Saturn, an external force or even an enigma, often becomes the target of other characters’ angst, rage, and fury. Saturn, who at first appears to be a heterodiegetic narrator, later reveals himself to be a homodiegetic narrator and the voice of Salvador Plascencia. Although it is unclear whether or not Saturn’s voice is synonymous with that of Salvador Plascencia the character or Salvador Plascencia the author, the mere insertion of Plascencia further experiments with the narrative. Characters such as Little Merced, Froggy, and Federico de la Fe have an indirect relationship with Saturn, living in fear that his presence alone can invade their thoughts and actions. However, it is through a rare interaction with Saturn that reveals his more humane qualities. Smiley and Apolonio manage to visit Saturn, or Salvador Plascencia, and perceive him in his more human state. Saturn, preoccupied with his own melancholy is not able to recognize his own characters. Depressed by his position in a love triangle, he simply states:

“‘Smiley, you can tell Federico de la Fe and the rest of EMF that they won. They can leave their lead houses up or they can knock them down, but they don’t have to worry about me staring down on them anymore’”. (Salvador Plascencia 106)

Though the war that the members of EMF had waged on Saturn had often been relentless at times and stagnant at others, it remained a one sided war. In this instance, one of Saturn’s rare acts is shown to be retreating from the war, having succumb to his own emotions. Saturn, who had previously been perceived as a relentless force invading the lives of the characters, withdraws from the war, revealing that he not only is human but a character with emotions as well.

Jahn, Manfred. 2005. Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative. English
  Department, University of Cologne. 28 May 2005. Web. 3 Nov. 2011.
  <http://www.unikoeln.de/~ame02/pppn.htm>.

Plascencia, Salvador. The People of Paper. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2006. Print.

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One Response to “Response 4”

  1.   salvarez said:

    Jennifer, I’m seeing your prose sound more scholarly with each response. I can certainly see what you have here turning into the section of your final essay that would deal with The People of Paper–if that’s what you wanted.

    With regards to some ideas here. I think you should make the Jahn its own PIE without any Plascencia. The part where you write, “Throughout The People of Paper, many of the homodiegetic narrators, such as Froggy, Sandra, and Little Merced, express their constant fear and paranoia of the always present Saturn. In doing so, readers gain a better understanding of the characters’ true personalities and how they are directly affected by Saturn’s presence. The characters wage war on their creator, who they believe should not have the ability to observe their every action or know their private thoughts” should be its own paragraph, and also given a quote and some E to connect back to the Jahn.

    The Jahn you have here would go in the “theory” section. You can start thinking about all the Jahn stuff now that you could connect both on your responses and blog posts. You have a lot of great material, and I think if you read back on some of your older posts, you’ll notice how your analyses have deepened. Narratology does that, alas.

    Too much “to be”: I counted 14. That’s way, way, way too many. Revise those out. I took off points for those. You’ll notice your writing will read more fluidly when you get ride of these verbs. It works, it really does.

    4 out of 5 points.

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