Narrative Shift -Hemingway Essay, Research Paper
Hemingway s characters often turn to primitive rituals for comfort. (Donaldson, Vol. 13 in Literary Criticism) It is at this primitive point in each character when Hemingway employs a narrative shift or shifting the narrator s description through another characters point of view. In The Short and Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Ernest Hemingway, this strategy both adds and detracts from the story in a number of ways.
First, Hemingway utilizes this technique to better the reader s sympathy, or pathos for the character. He felt a sudden white-hot, blinding flash explode inside his head and that was all he ever felt. (Qtd. In DiYanni, 356) This is a prime example of an emotional appeal that Hemingway throws to the reader. Anger, sadness, and frustration are some of the adjectives that best describe the reader s reaction to this scene, which marks the demise of Francis Macomber.
Also, he uses a shift in narrative to help the readers understand the inner workings of the primitive mind. The lion s anger is notably the best example of this. He could crouch and not be seen and make them bring the crashing thing close enough so he could make a rush and get the man that held it. (Qtd. In DiYanni, 344) Here, Hemingway accurately has the narrator translate the lion s inner feelings. This improves the depth of the story as it helps the reader understand the lions sudden desire to end the gunshots and kill the hunters, This primitive thought benefits the readers in that they can relate to the lions sudden rage and rush to kill.
Although the narrative shift seems to be a successful, it also detracts to the story in one major way. If the reader is not paying full attention he or she might miss the shift in narration and hence be lost. The lion stood there majestically that his eyes only showed in silhouette, bulking like some super-rhino. There was no man smell (Qtd. In DiYanni, 344) There is a quick change as to who the narrator is describing, starting with Macomber and then the infamous lion. Had the reader not been paying full attention, he or she might have missed an integral part of the story.
Hemingway s use of narrative shift help progress the story, yet it also detracted from it. As with most literary devices, nothing is one hundred percent full proof as there are bound to be some problems. Luckily in Hemingway s case, the positives outweighed the negatives.