Beet Quen Essay, Research Paper
The Beet Queen was a very interesting and challenging book to read. The book consists of four parts with sixteen total chapters. Each part is broken at significant breaks or lapses of time in the book. The chapters are separated a little differently however. Each chapter has a different character narrating the events of the book in a first person form. Then, all of the chapters are followed by an omnisent third person narrating a new break in the book. All of these chapters and parts continue in a syntagmatic relationship according to Bonnycastle. While the breaks of the characters narrating the book changes, the order of events follows a strict timeline. Bonnycastle states that The adjective syntagmatic comes from the Greek words meaning to put together in the right order. sometimes the grouping is spread out in a linear way, like a chain While Bonnycastle refers to the syntagmatic relationship to sentence structure and paragraph format, it is possible to evaluate this principle of his writing to the entire book of The Beet Queen.
Louise Erdrich has a great sense of pace and vision for this book. Unfortunately, this book is second (I believe it s second, I could be wrong) book in a series of three books. All of these books contain the same characters but build upon the issues and stories that these characters bring forth. Each book is able to stand on its own however, creating a great read for those less ambitious than others. Erdrich did not provide much background information on Adelaide, Mary and Karl s mother. It would have helped me in understanding her motives behind her actions and provided a greater insight into her mindset to have more information. The readers have no idea what events built up to her leaving her children at the fair. Page 13 states, By the time I dared look into the sky, The Great Omar was flying steadily away from the fairgrounds with my mother. Soon the plane was only a white dot, then it blended into the pale sky and vanished. While we have a basic understanding of her inability to support the three children (which is stated early on in the book), it would be helpful to know the emotional, physical and mental attributes that lead up to these events. This break in the syntagmatic structure of the books is a downfall to executing this type of story break down.
The jump from character to character also proved to challenge readers on a deeper level. While the story syntagmatically progressed forward, it became important to note that each character brought forth their own biases, judgments, paradigms, and morals to the story. By having them tell what happened only provided one side to the story. Erdrich s idea was to have six different vantage points to one story. This proved similar to Faulkner s The Sound and the Fury. However, I found Erdrich s novel to be more difficult in the fact that the characters didn t really possess a unique or different tone, diction or style to it. While it was blatantly obvious in The Sound, this novel really forced me to page back to the beginning of the chapter at points and say, Who am I reading again? Again, the syntagmatic style of writing aided in helping me to understand this difficult yet unique way of presenting the text.
As a concrete random thinker, I prefer this novel over The Sound due to The Sound s infrequent jumps back and forward throughout time. The characters in Beet Queen also possess clear, focused, healthy mindsets that process thoughts well as opposed to, oh let s just say Benjy in Faulkner s novel. That paradigmatic book was difficult to read because of the abstractness of the novel and it s frequent jumps back and forth in time.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed this novel. Erdrich s style of writing complimented my thinking processes and made the novel more enjoyable. While the challenge was still there, it helped me that the story greatly followed Bonnycastle s notion of syntagmatic thinking.