Paul Auster, Portrait Of An Invisible Man Essay, Research Paper
Of memory, anecdotes; of fact, journalism; of all these forms of writing; how can you find a man once thought known to you in life and suddenly lost in death? Death? some may say there is nothing more final. Paul Auster differs, with in his essay Portrait of an Invisible Man, ??man continues to exist, but only as an idea, a cluster of images and memories in the minds of other people? (pg.57). Through many different literary approaches, he allows himself and his readers to discover his father. By the end of his composition, a clearer picture of his late father has been cast; it is in death that he can clearly see him for the first time and yet realize that it would be impossible to truly know him or anyone for that matter.
Anecdotes are ubiquitous throughout the piece; these short stories give a personal grasp of how Auster saw his father and his varying actions throughout different situations. Looking at his childhood he reflects upon when his father came to a baseball game where his performance was lacking, after the game his father said he had played a nice game and that he couldn?t do well everytime. Instead of finding comfort in these words Auster says, ?I realized that even if I had done all the things I had hoped to do, his reaction would have been exactly the same.? This could easily be the truth or his father really could have been trying to impose some feeling, it cannot be known for we only witness the event on behalf of the author. This is a problem with the anecdote as a form of knowledge; it is one person?s memory. Auster himself realizes this but chooses to go on, ?I can remain silent, or else I can speak of things that cannot be verified? (pg.61).
In searching for what his father was in his own life the author had to come to terms with his father?s life before his birth. In seeing how he came to be the man that he was, we are able to find allowances for some of his less acceptable behaviors. Auster offers to us the story of his grandfather?s death at the hands of his grandmother. This section of Portrait of an Invisible Man portrays a very journalistic style. There are quotes from newspapers, pictures ? hard evidence. ?Former Prominent Real Estate Agent Operator is Shot to Death in the Kitchen of His Wife On Thursday Night Following a Family Wrangle Over Money-and a Woman?(pg.75). Here the reader can sit comfortably with in this knowledge and recognize concrete facts. His father watched his own mother kill his father. His father saw his mother put on trial. He lived a life afterwards being raised by a single immigrant mother with numerous children. We can be sure of these accounts and permit some degree of understanding after recognizing them and their legitimacy.
Another writing form presented in Portrait of an Invisible Man is the letter. It serves almost as a testimonial account of things that happened or to the character of a person. In one case, it allows some light to be cast on a gentle-hearted side of Auster?s father. He was a landlord and this was a letter he received some years later, ?Anyway I move away left of owing $40. rent. ?So here is your money. thanks for being so very nice to the children and I at that time. this is how much I appreciated what you done for us? (pg. 91). Unlike the anecdote, we can be sure of this person?s feelings and yet unlike the journalistic style we can still get a personal grasp on the situation. The letter seems to encompass the best of both styles. We can now recognize that the emotional truth is somewhat different from the factual truth yet, that both are necessary in trying to create the whole picture.
Presented through different forms of knowledge they all serve to be a slice of a man?s life that goes to show we can never truly know someone. For there are too many aspects to be covered too many personal opinions to recognize what one man was to everyone that knew him. Like Auster says man lives on in the minds and memories of other people but to each his own.