I have been trying to come up with a thesis for an essay I am writing on Summertime by J. M. Coetzee. The prompt we are given for our thesis is this: “What stylistic aspects does Coetzee use to represent either a character or historical situation in Summertime? What is the impact of Coetzee's literary choices?” We must include three body paragraphs. I am struggling to find a strong idea that will have clear evidence. I know unrequited love is a major theme, but I am unsure how to connect his stylistic aspects.

For an essay on the relationship between style and a character or historical situation in Summertime, one might focus on the author’s use of interviews to create a composite image of the character John Coetzee. This topic would provide material with which to answer the question about the impact of the author’s choices. Using multiple sources, each with a distinct relationship with John, forms a mosaic-like composition. It also forces the reader to question the truth.

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M. Coetzee’s novel Summertime uses an unusual narrative strategy in regard to characterization, especially of the protagonist, John Coetzee. An essay about the novel’s stylistic aspects could address the author’s use of the interview format as a way of bringing in the opinions of numerous other characters.

A traditional novel that uses a single narrator might present a unified, clear vision of the main character. Instead, Coetzee has opted for multiple narrators, whose words are in turn mediated by the biographer, Vincent. As the author and Vincent move from one interviewee to another, each of their distinct visions of John emerge. The impact of this approach is to form a complex image composed of multiple small parts, much like a mosaic.

This multifaceted image might also be analyzed as fragmented and imprecise. The reader, along with Vincent, cannot know if any of the interviewees actually has greater insight into John than any other. One can also question their motives in speaking with the biographer: do they intend to provide accurate information? The broader impact of the multiple narrators pertains to the reader’s inability to know which, if any, is telling the truth or leading to a deeper understanding of John’s character.

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