How does The Storyteller relate to the theme and concept of journeys?

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allie-draper | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The Storyteller can be a story about journeys in a lot of different ways. We can think about it in terms of geography—the narrator and characters travel across physical space to experience new places. The Peruvian narrator has spent a great deal of time exploring Europe (the story opens with him vacationing in Florence), and he recalls his youth in Peru where he met Saúl at university. We also spend a lot of time among the indigenous Machiguengas, exploring their world and its relationship with modern Peru. We explore the different paths the two friends (we suspect the Machiguenga hablador is Saúl) took and the distant places their choices led them.

The Storyteller also explores journeys through time; much of what the narrator recalls about his friendship with Saúl takes place in the past—and it reads like it. The narrator struggles to remember across the long years, and is able to recount few concrete details. He sketches the outline of conversations but includes little specific dialogue, and filters information through the emotions of the present.

Mario Vargas Llosa also documents a journey across cultures; Saúl hints at his life before he became a Machiguenga storyteller and the transformation he underwent. His stories of Machiguenga life and legends take readers on a journey, too, to explore a culture and a mythology they may not be familiar with. And perhaps stories themselves can be journeys—in which case Mario Vargas Llosa describes journeys within journeys... within journeys.

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