NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Monday, April 27, 2009

Class Notes: Introduction To Narrative

Chapter 5: Closure

"With regard to expectations, then, there appear to be two imperfectly balanced needs: on the one hand to see them fulfilled, on the other to see them violated." The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, p. 59.

That statement is so true! We don't want our read to be too predictable, but we have a certain set of "rules" in our heads and if the narrative doesn't follow those rules, we can get a little uncomfortable. For instance, I read a book a few years ago in which the heroine of the story is murdered by the serial killer in the end. That was weird. On the other hand, some of the best books are unforgettable precisely because they violated our rules.

When we're engaged in a narrative, be it in the form of a book, movie, or something else, what drives us to continue to pay attention are expectations and questions. We want expectations resolved in one form or another, and we want questions answered. In short, we want closure. But what if the narrative doesn't provide that closure? What if the end is ambiguous? What if questions are still lingering? Does that bother you? Or do you enjoy spending time pondering the unknown?


Lisa said...

It used to really bother me when something really unexpected happened, but it doesn't really bother me as much now. As long as it makes sense and isn't something the author just pulls out of the air in an effort to surprise or shock the reader. I also am becoming more comfortable with ambiguous endings because let's face it -- that's the way things usually are in life. The older I get the less I see things in black and white.

Lezlie said...

Lisa ~ Me, too. As I've matured as a reader and as a person, I've learned to not only accept but actually *enjoy* the violations of my story "rules". But, as you said, it has to be done without looking like it was done simply for shock value.

I think the fact that life is ambiguous is why a lot of people expect closure in their reading. It's a way to feel like a person has a little control.


Linda/CT said...

Hi Lezlie; I took an early Lit. class a few years ago at the community college & loved The Faerie Queene and the Death of King Arthur, among a few more. Haven't been back because other things seem to get in the way, as they will. I do love taking classes tho', esp. Lit. Linda/CT

Lezlie said...

Linda ~ I keep thinking I should go back to a formal class, but I've opted for the self-education route for now. I'm reading The Faerie Queene now! I like it quite a lot, but it takes a lot of brain power! One or two Cantos a day is pretty much my limit before my mind melts.


Serena said...

I'm not sure if its because I write that I don't have expectations or rules when I read other writers' works. I really have no expectations...I'm there for the journey and its conclusion, whatever those might entail.

Its an interesting question.

Lezlie said...

Serena ~ I think that is the best way to read - open minded. We don't always have to like what happens or the way it is presented, but at least make the pathway available!