Focalization is the restriction of the narration based on the perspective, knowledge, and experiences of the narrator. In some instances, the focus of the narration is dictated by the characters and other entities within the world where the narrated story is occurring. It defines the perspective with which the narration progresses and links to the feelings and opinions expressed. Fixed internal focalization combines the fact that a singular focus is established and that the focus is on a character within the narrative. This is maintained throughout the story. In Atwood’s Footnote to the Amnesty report on Torture, the man who cleans the floor indemnifies himself from the gruesome activities by taking the perspective of a worker just carrying out his duty to make a living (Vendler et al. 70).
He’s glad to have this job because there are few others.
He isn’t a torturer,
he only cleans the floor: every morning the same vomit,
The same shed teeth, the same piss and liquid shit, the same panic.
This use of fixed internal internalization underlines the fact that those who see and are around torture have lost the ability to see it as abuse and decided it is a necessary action.
An implied author is the author whose characteristics are a byproduct of the literary work. The expressions within the narration of thoughts and emotions evoke am idea of an idealistic author of the text. Each member of the audience perceives this author differently. Given that there is only one real author, an implied author is fluid and subjective. The implied author is also part of the story as much as any character and this made more pronounced when the narrator of the story is a first-person character within it. In Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken the implied author is a person who had to make a choice between two options with different merits. By using the first person the author ingrains themselves within the text and invites the audience to evaluate his choice of paths. This may or may not be reflective of the actual situations faced by the author. The decision made reflects an adventurous and risk-taking approach that is not directly representative of the author’s own decision-making process. Without becoming part of the text in the form of an implied author, it is difficult to convince the members of the audience that the taking of risks is a rewarding characteristic (69).
The Narrator always reserves the right to tell the story as a disinterested party whose main objective is to describe the events without seeming to make decisions or being affected by those of the characters. In this format, the narrator is distant from the events being narrated. In level one, the narrator can choose to be remote but objective as Atwood does in changing from directly describing the torture chamber to taking the perspective of the cleaner (69-70). In level 5 the author is directly involved in the narration as is the case in Sylvia Plath’s Daddy where a detailed description of a life lived and experiences had, is necessary (21).
Narrative order is the chronological and subjective arrangement of events within the story. The order of events is necessary for forming an ideological bridge with the audience. However, in some instances anachronism is necessary to link details of the story. It occurs in the form of flashbacks and flash-forwards. Flash-backs and flash-forwards are used in the road not taken. The author stands in the middle ground and provides the reasoning behind the decision to take the path less traveled. The narrator flashes back to what they saw and experienced when making the choice. A flash-forward is then used to infer that the success is based on the decisions they made in the past. The author’s past and future are integral to each other, as risk and success are linked (Vendler et al. 69).
Structuralism is important in establishing the links between the narrative and the broader thematic and stylistic categories. The idea is that literary works should not be read in isolation as this deprives the audience of an opportunity to critically analyze the story based on agreed principles. These principles include the text in terms of themes and characters. The second principle is to discuss the narrative form and the final principle is to describe and identify the purpose of the narrative. This is a stepwise process in which a surface analysis gives room for an in-depth subjective analysis of the text. The principal assumptions are that all texts can be analyzed in this form and that all text has a symbolic and literal meaning. The advantages of this approach include its ability to illuminate the societal mindset, it is enabling of greater learning from literary works, its deterministic value, and its versatile application in various frameworks. The approach has the disadvantage of forcing the analysis of works within set structures thus restricting creative thought.