Norman Mailer’s The Fight fits a mold of story telling described by Jerome Bruner, but not in the ways expected. The characters are more than just characters and the plot fits more a mode of telling than an actual plot. Considering Bruner’s features of narrative that he describes in “The Narrative Construction of Reality”, through an illustration of canonicity and breach, the protagonist of The Fight is the ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’ itself, while the antagonist of the story is the breach of the fight.
Canonicity and breach, as explained by Bruner, is the breach of a canonical script. This breach breaks the norms or standards of what is expected. A tale must break the normal state to be ...view middle of the document...
These traditional féticheurs brought a new aspect to fighting. As described in Breaking a Date for the Dance, the féticheurs carry “ the artifacts of their profession: bones, fingernail clippings, chicken claws, the tips of antelope horns and other such charms.” Traditional fights are not always accompanied with this addition. Some fighters may be superstitious and look to additional help, but the use of witchery as a prime addition to the fight was a new obstruction to the playing field.
Another obstruction to the fight was discrepancy between fighters. Foreman was well known, was building strength, and had just fought at the Olympics. He was also younger. Ali was seen as the older man, Foreman the up and coming younger fighter. He was a heavy weight champion, but was not liked in Zaire as much as Ali. President Mobutu showed support for Ali, along with many of the citizens of Zaire. As seen in When We Were Kings, Ali was supported by much of Zaire. Wherever he went, people cheered, “Ali Bomaye”, meaning Ali, kill him. There was a liking for Ali’s representation of African American and his hopes for furthering his African heritage. Foreman was seen as an outsider, the unflavored participant in the fight. The difference in reception between the fighters created a breech in equal support of both fighters.
The obstructions of the fight, the difference in reception of the fighters and the different traditions of a new location, are the antagonists of “The Rumble in the Jungle”. The breeches in canonicity blocked an easy approach to the end, but also added a story line to the fight. Without a change in location, the fight would be without much of the reception it received, losing some of its recognition as a notorious fight.
The addition of the obstructions also adds an element of race to the story that otherwise may have been more overlooked. African roots were pivotal in Ali’s support from the people of Zaire. They supported him due to his support of their country, and the growth of an African American sport participant. As Gerald Early describes Ali in Muhammad Ali as Third-World Hero, Ali “combined protest and action and exhibited fierce racial pride and extraordinary egotism about his own powers—no black public figure in history seemed more blatantly in love with his own being and his own possibilities than Ali” (p.6). The fight brought a new face to the challenges of racism against blacks. Without the difference between Ali and Foreman as well as the change of location, the force behind Ali’s motion would have been lost. Ali would only have been seen as an older fighter who beat the younger Foreman.
Images often are accompanied with different meanings from different perspectives. Such is also the case with storylines. Solomon Northup’s 12 Years a Slave, originally a novel, is also theatrically represented in a cinema rendition. Northup’s story portrays a different image of the beating of Patsey, interpreted differently by film and text...