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In "The Horse Dealer's Daughter," how does the narrative voice suit the story's...

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cindyhr | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 6, 2012 at 8:52 PM via web

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In "The Horse Dealer's Daughter," how does the narrative voice suit the story's effect?

This story is told in the third person narrative and I am wondering how this suits the effect of the story.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 7, 2012 at 6:55 AM (Answer #1)

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The narrative choice chosen by Lawrence in this story adds to the effect of the tale as it allows him to focus on the key theme of his story, which is the strength of passion and how it overpowers our reason. The use of the omniscient narration means that Lawrence is not confined to any one character, as he would be if he had chosen third person limited or first person. As he is exploring the passion that springs up between Mabel and Ferguson, it is important that he is able to switch back and forth between these two central characters and explore how this passion develops and expresses itself in both of them. Consider the following quote, which comes from the very end of the story:

"No, I want you, I want you," was all he answered, blindly, with that terrible intonation which frightened her almost more than her horror lest he should not want her.

The choice of omniscient narrator in this story thus allows Lawrence to explore intimately and with full psychological knowledge the thoughts, feelings and reactions of both central characters as they experience them, and also to depict the often contradictory feelings as they struggle against the passion that is overpowering them. The above quote is a great example as it points out the paradox of Ferguson's words, which are on the one hand indicative of love, but on the other hand, through the manner of their intonation, which is "terrible," undercut that love and make Mabel scared about what he really is thinking. Such subtleties would be different if a different narrative perspective were adopted.

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