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How does the opening paragraph of "The Truest Sport" in Mauve Gloves & Madmen,...

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pashti | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted September 3, 2013 at 6:42 PM via web

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How does the opening paragraph of "The Truest Sport" in Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine exemplify author Tom Wolfe's third law about presenting "the feeling of being inside the character's mind and experiencing the emotional reality of the scene as he experiences it" (Wolfe, The New Journalism)?

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K.P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted September 8, 2013 at 8:43 PM (Answer #2)

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Down a perfectly green tunnel, as cool and quiet as you can possibly imagine--no, it's not a tunnel, it's more like a hall of mirrors--but they're not mirrors, those aren't reflections, they're openings, one after another, on and on--just a minute! it's very familiar!--out of this cool green memory comes a steward, a tiny man, in uniform, a white jacket, perfectly starched and folded and creased like an envelope .... (Mauve Gloves & Madmen)

The question you are being asked to answer by your teacher pertains to Wolfe's principles of New Journalism as they were developed by himself and other New Journalists like Truman Capote and others: in a milieu ripe for adapting the novel's techniques to non-fiction reporting, the theory came after the experimental practice.

The four principle techniques of new journalism, as stated by Wolfe, are (1) telling the story through scenes rather than through the isolated facts who, what, where, when, why, how used in standard journalism; (2) expressing ideas through the dialogue they are expressed in rather than isolated quotations; (3) point-of-view rendition of facts and events through the eyes and minds of participants rather than through the objective, neutral objective reporter; (4) descriptions of elaborate detail that give a picture of the "status life" of the individual(s) being written about.

The third principle, or "rule," of New Journalism according to Wolfe is point-of-view reporting. To illustrate point-of-view reporting, Wolfe used stream-of-consciousness to flashback to standard "dialogisms" to third-person objectivity and any combination of any and all methods he might think of. When asked to analyze a passage in terms of how it exemplifies the point-of-view rule, you are being asked to analyze and describe the point (or points) of view employed by Wolfe in that passage.

Looking at the excerpt above from the first paragraph, the first thing notable is that Wolfe's reporting narration is from "inside the character's head" [though you must understand "character" is not a "character" in the same terms as that of a fictional character--this is a person with whom Wolfe has spent days or even weeks with while doing in-depth research before beginning his writing]. In a variety of a stream-of-consciousness speech (i.e., the continuation of randomly related of unrelated thoughts that flow through one's unexpressed thoughts), the character narrates a lucid dream. Lucid dreams allow one to monitor, comment on and sometimes redirect dream-events.

Thus the first point-of-view in this paragraph is first-person narration of a dream sequence. The next line of dialogue is spoken by the steward, "Bye borty-bibe." The next line is confusing, maybe even controversial: Is this a new third-person narrator or is this the first-person dreamer who is saying "He's saying it!"? I interpret this as the continued first-person commentary of the dreamer. This switches to third-person narration with "Dowd wakes up and it's 5:45 on the button...."

While writing in first-person point-of-view, Wolfe certainly shows what is in the character's mind through lucid dreaming dialogue and illustrates the emotional state of the dreamer, which is pleasantly sleepy and happy to see his morning steward. Thus this exemplifies Wolfe's third "rule" by entering into the character's mind through describing a lucid dream and his reaction to his reliable morning steward, as a result, the reader experiences the "emotional reality of the scene as [the character/person] experiences it."

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 4, 2013 at 12:29 AM (Answer #1)

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The opening scene of Tom Wolf's essay "The Truest Sport" (from Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter, and Vine) proves to be very vivid. The perfect green tunnel, "cool and quiet," proves  to be a confusing image given Wolfe changes it immediately. The tunnel, now mirrors, is familiar to the speaker. The tiny man in a starched white jacket jumps out from the green background immediately. 

The scene Wolfe presents flows seamlessly from one image to the next. First a tunnel (singular and exit-less), the scene then changes to mirrors simulating multiple options and passages the speaker could take. Here, Wolfe's third law (regarding allowing the reader into the mind of the character) is obvious. As the speaker moves through the scene (the changing from a tunnel to multiple mirrors), the reader is led through as well. Wolf does this by narrating the change for the reader through the speaker's recognition of the change. 

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