The Narrator’s Effect to the Reader
The narrator shapes the reader’s interpretation of the selfless behaviors in various ways throughout the story. The narrator appeals to the empathetic and sympathetic emotions of the reader through vivid descriptions of situations and characters. The emotions that the characters experience can guide the thoughts of the reader. The narrator has to build the characters well in order to ensure that they evoke the desired emotion from the story. The approach of the characters to the situations also matter as per the intention of the narrator. The selfless acts can be harmful in some cases and all the time evoke sadness in the characters. The cultures, trends and practices of the society in which the story is set is important in defining the characters and justifying their actions. The character has to show the development of their personality in adopting the new trends of their society. The narrator once again is tasked with ensuring that the reader understands what the story is about and the importance of each character in building another character. The author has to fit all the characters into each other’s lives to give the story a flow and as such dictate what the reader interprets the selfless acts to be in the social setting the narrator uses for the story.
In Jiang Xingge Reencounters His Pearl Shirt, the narrator shows the importance of rethinking friendship as a selfless act. The narrator explains why Sanqiao fell into the trap of temptation of being unfaithful as a less result of forging a friendship out of a selfless act. Sanqiao was instructed by her husband to keep herself away from the public eye because he knew the temptations would be many when people realized that she lived alone. She heeded to his advice but things fell apart when another young man saw her and used an old women to get to her. “You’ve got to think of some ingenious way for me to get to know her.” (Jiang Xingge Reencounters His Peral Shirt) The old woman and took advantage of her loneliness and eagerness to escape it in making friends to accomplish her mission as per Chen Dalang’s, request. The old woman befriended her and made Sanqiao pity her to the point of housing her for the summer. This episode explains why being overly selfless is dangerous. The old woman was used to break Sanqiao’s marriage while her husband was busy taking care of business. Xue was against the idea until she could no longer turn down the offer of money from Chen. Sanqiao ended up being a victim of her selfless act of accepting friendship with Xue, an old woman unconditionally. Xue crafted a method of getting Chen to know her and he was eventually gifted with a pearl shirt by Sanqiao which belonged to Xingge’s family.
The author made the selfless act of friendship by Sanqiao fit into the context of the time by ensuring that whatever Xue was proposing was nothing out of the ordinary. By Xue suggesting that she would help Sanqiao with fulfilling the needs she would require of her husband, Sanqiao let her guard down. Xue aroused Sanqiao’s thoughts in a way that made it easy for her to accept Chen’s advances. When she realized that Xue had tricked her it was too late and the deed was done. This occurrence goes to show how being a selfless friend takes away the ability of an individual to sieve their friends. Sanqiao was not keen on finding out what Xue wanted from her until it was too late. (Jiang Xingge Reencounters His Peral Shirt)
Another example of a selfless act is when Sanqiao let her husband go for such a long period of time while their marriage was still so young. On the other hand, Xingee was also selfless in giving up his marriage to take of business so that they could invest with the profits in future. It is evident that he had a vision for what he wanted for his wife, given that he left her with enough servants to tend to her needs and keep her company. Xingge’s act as narrated was inevitable and the reader can easily see it. He had to attend to the businesses his father had left behind while at the same time, he had to take of his family. Xingge in his selflessness as per the narrator, ended up losing his wife and find that his businesses had little meaning to him as they were. Xingge regretted his selfless act according to the narrator. The reader picks up the direction the narrator points towards. This is mainly because the reader’s only source of information is the narrator’s point of view.
The narration of the pearl shirt brings the reader’s mind to an observatory mode. The reader has the free will of deciding what about the story is intriguing to them. The reader gets to relate to the characters without being influenced by the narrator. The narrators of both stories only bring out the characters in a way that it is easy to know which one is more influential in their society than the other. The key characters in the stories are given enough coverage and support by the narrator. Looking at Shengxian’s story, she was the main character along with Second Brother Fan while all the other characters were included to act as subordinate characters. From the narrator, it is not easy to tell who they preferred in the story. This leaves the character at liberty to relate to the story as they wish. In the narration about Xingge, the narrator breaks down the story into sections where the reader is told about one character at a time. After the reader knows all the characters, the narrator then merges their stories where they relate. This means that the reader still has control over their understanding of the narration. The narrator once again, tells as it is. They have no influence on what the reader understands or relates to in their stories.
In the Fan Tower Restaurant as Witness to the love of Zhou Shengxian, Shengxian’s mother was selfless in giving her daughter a chance to have her heart’s desires. It was, however, difficult to convince her father to accept the proposal that her mother had promised her (Menglong). Eventually, Shengxian died twice as a result of her father’s actions directly and indirectly respectively. The narrator explains the sadness that engulfed the people who felt robbed by her death efficiently. The happenings of this society according to the narrator, followed a given system. When Second Brother Fan and Shengxian fall ill, the elderly lady who figures out their problem does it out of experience. She is also a respected member of the community seeing that she is sent to find Second Brother Fan a wife. The indication that Shengxian’s mother could defy her husband in support of her daughter means that she has adopted the current trends of marriage while her husband is stuck in the past.
The narrators in both stories ensure that the reader gets unbiased perspectives of the happenings. They report as it happens and neutrally. Both stories show the importance of having good friends for the characters. In the case of Shengxian, the community was tight knit except for the fact that her father was uncooperative. Zhu Zhen was also not a good friend to Second Brother Fan yet they seemed to be of almost the same age. Zhen was not respectful of Bother’s Fan’s lover’s grave. Even as his intentions were what saved her life, it was not in good taste. Zhen was not a friend that would help unless it benefitted him as well’ Zhen did not listen to his mother’s counsel and eventually he was thrown in jail (Menglong). According to the narrator’s report, Zhen was not a good friend. He needed guidance and good company to make him refrain from engaging in such despicable acts such as raping a “corpse.” The narrator, however, does not show that he does not approve of Zhen’s behavior, he only reports what goes on and how he gets caught. A biased narrator would try to make Zhen a good person by emphasizing his decision to take responsibility of his actions or make him a bad person for holding Shengxian hostage after rescuing her from her grave. The narrator’s decision to refrain from doing so shows that they let the reader decide what is right or wrong about the characters.
The authors made sure to incorporate the current trends in the narration where there are detectives investigating the death of Shengxian (Menglong). The detectives are an indication that the story was set at a more civilized society. Both the narrators also show the impact of love in young couples’ lives. The attraction is usually very strong and defies all odds. In both narrations, however, the couples ended up breaking apart by infidelity, lack of clear communication systems and death too. The authors open up these issues keeping in mind that these things have been happening differently but with the settings of the stories, the context was fully utilized. In the case of Xingge, the trade business was not something to be done in a few months and get a chance to be with your family. Xingge and his wife had broken communication channels because he would have found a way of communicating with her, which he did not and it contributed a great deal to the breakdown in their marriage. Xingee acted without giving his wife a chance to explain her side of the story. He was not being a good friend to her seeing that he divorced her without warning.
In the case of Shengxian, the narrator explains the thoughts of the characters. This means that the narrator only gives the reader a feel of what happened after which the reader gets to deduce that Shengxian was ready to leave her family for love. Xingee also abandoned his family for business. The characters push the limits of their social stability by taking their emotions too seriously. For instance; when Second Brother Fan killed Shengxian, he was acting out of emotions. He hit her to death because he believed he was looking at a ghost. After her death, he was arrested and it can be compared to abandoning his family for love. Zhen was also arrested and his mother was left all alone because of his persistent greed just like his father’s before him. The narrator takes the reader back to Zhen’s history (Menglong). The reader now knows that Zhen took after his father’s job and habits. They both have been grave robbers with bad endings. Both Zhen and his mother sound like they abandoned family. When Zhen was being arrested, only his mother was found at home. His father also died of a wrong doing which is similar to abandoning his family for greed. Xingee can also be looped in on abandonment of family for personal gain.
To conclude, the narrators are the instruments used by the author to communicate with the reader. The reader always initially thinks in the direction the narrator points them to. After concluding the book, the reader normally has an analysis of the story and if they were to retell it, it would have a lot of their personal thoughts in it. Authors must always ensure that they set their stories appropriately which is the reason why they incorporate the current trends of their time to make the stories relevant and informative. For instance, of the two books, one can clearly tell that Xingge existed way before Shengxian. Shengxian’s story has a lot of modernity. The narrators always have to be a neutral voice that leaves the judgment to the reader.
“Jiang Xingge Reencounters His Peral Shirt.” n.d. 9-67. Document.
Menglong, Feng. “Fan Tower Restaurant as Witness to the love of Zhou Shengxian.” Menglong, Feng. Stories to Awaken The World. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1646. 272-289. Document.
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