Prof. Steven Alvarez
English 363: Experimental Hispanic Literatures
16 October 2011
Psychonarration: The Representation of the Priests’ First Impression of the Angel in Gabriel García Márquez’s short story, A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
Gabriel García Márquez is a fan of confusing and using psychological perplexities in order to mystify his audience. In García Márquez’s, A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, he introduces an angel that has fallen from the sky and landed inside Pelayo and Elisenda’s courtyard. Confounded by the news, Father Gonzaga, the village priest arrives to see what the commotion is about and to resolve the disturbance. In Jahn’s Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative, Jahn argues that a character can express his/hers thoughts through,
“Psychonarration: The textual representation of a character’s conscious or unconscious mental states and processes, mainly by using forms of ‘narrative report of discourse’ or ‘narrated perception’” (Jahn N4.9).
Narrative report discourse, which is a “narrator’s summarizing report of a character’s words or thoughts” (Jahn N8.7) and narrated perception, “The textual representation of a character’s perception…” (Jahn N8.11) are used by the narrator in order to communicate the characters feelings. For example, García Márquez writes,
“Alien to the impertinences of the world, he (the angel) only lifted his antiquarian eyes and murmured something in his dialect when Father Gonzaga went into the chicken coop and said good morning to him in Latin. The parish priest has had his first suspicion of an imposter when he saw that he did not understand the language of God or know how to greet His ministers. Then he noticed that seen up close he was much too human: he had an unbearable smell of the outdoors, the back had been mistreated by terrestrial winds, and nothing about him measured up to the proud dignity of angels” (García Márquez 219).
In this quotation, we see how García Márquez uses pychonarration to embody the priests’ visual sense of the angel, and it also represents the priests’ ideals on how an angel should act and react to a figure of godliness, which is the way in which the priest views himself; this is satirical because it’s as if the priest believes that he and the angel are somehow on the same sacred level. This quotation is also a good example of psychonarration because García Márquez does not use quotation marks to show that the character is speaking, instead the audience knows that the descriptions put forth by the priest are brought on by what he is experiencing in that particular moment.
Jahn, Manfred. “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative.” 28 May 2005. Web. 18 October 2011. <http://www.uni\koeln.de/~ame02/pppn.htm>.
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.” Trans. Gregory\Rabassa and J.S. Bernstein. Collected Stories. Harper Perennial. 217-225. Print.