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Analyse The Shifting Narrator In Rinconete Y Cortadillo By Cervantes

2150 words - 9 pages

Rinconete y Cortadillo is narrated using various techniques that add interest, movement and variety to the story as a whole.At the beginning of the story all of the information about Rinconete and Cortadillo is given to us by the third-person narrator who is omniscient and descriptive. The boys are described in detail without us yet knowing who they are. They then start a conversation with each other and the next section is made up almost entirely of dialogue in which the narrator steps back and only adds occasional remarks to let us know who is speaking, for example: respondió el preguntado; dijo el mayor; respondió el mediano; preguntó el grande. The narrator does not release the boy’s names until they introduce themselves through their own direct discourse with one another. Rather than more conventional forms of address they are referred to as el mayor, el menor, el preguntado, el pequeño and el mediano, which are based on the observations made by the narrator as an onlooker of the conversation. Of course the all-knowing narrator knows their names, but he chooses to withhold this information so that it can be given in the first person. The speech is used here to narrate facts essential to the story in a realistic way. This technique is often used by Cervantes in this story and combines the objectivity of a third-person narrative voice with the subjectivity and involvement of a first-person character. The narrator intervenes in the middle of one of Rincón’s speeches:‘“…y entre ellos saqué estos naipes (y a este tiempo descubrió los que se han dicho, que en el cuello traía), con los cuales he ganado mi vida por los mesones y ventas que hay desde Madrid aquí, jugando a la veintiuna”’ p.196.The narrator interrupts this long speech to inform us of Rincón’s actions. Rincón had been telling us about his past and this intervention brings us back to the present moment, adds action to his words and also reminds us of the presence of a narrative voice other than that of the character. It is as though the narrator is involved in the story and creates an interplay between a live character and himself. After the exchanges and introductions of the boys, which provide us with background and character information, the narrator picks up the thread again and continues with the story in his role as the direct narrator. We are told that the boys embrace and start to play cards. These are silent actions that can no longer be portrayed through direct speech and so Cervantes has to bring back his third-person narrator to relate them to us. The narrative voice also has to pick up to prevent the autobiographical discourse from just suddenly ending or losing interest.In the story there are also long passages of descriptive narrative, for example when Rincón and Cortado meet the Asturian “basket-boy” in Seville. Here no direct speech is...

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