What is the dialogue part of the short story "The Leap" by Louise Erdrich?

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

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This is an interesting question because there are no direct dialogue passages in "The Leap." There are, however, indirect dialogue passages. Dialogue is the exchange of direct comments between characters or in directly stated monologue that are indicated by quotation marks, some call them inverted apostrophe marks. Here is a random example of direct dialogue:

Tat the cat said, "I should like Christmas pudding."

Oscar, the big black cat with the large yellow eyes, said, "We shall be sure to supply you with some when the time comes."

Indirect dialogue is when the narrator or a character says that someone said something. Here is another random example, this time of indirect dialogue:

Tat the cat faced Oscar, the big black cat with the large yellow eyes, and told him how very much he should like Christmas pudding. Oscar, having a heart as large as his eyes, replied to Tat that he should glady be supplied with Christmas pudding when the time came.

You can see in the second random example that we receive the same information (plus the narrator's comment on Oscar), but the dialogue that is being reported is embedded in the narrator's words. Indirect dialogue can also be embedded in a character's words, like in this other random example:

"I was speaking to Tat," said Oscar, the big black cat with large yellow eyes, "and learned that he should like Christmas pudding. I told him that he shall surely have it when the time comes."

In "The Leap," the dialogue is indirect and of the style of the second random example. The narrator, Anna's daughter, relays to the reader what those speaking said, but she does this through her own voice, just as the random narrator above relays what Tat and Oscar said. Here are a couple of examples of indirect dialogue from "The Leap":

They laughed and flirted openly as they beat their way up again on the trapeze bars.

when I opened the window she told me to raise it wider and prop it up with the stick so it wouldn't crush her fingers.

my mother asked him to unzip her dress. When he wouldn't be bothered, she made him understand.

There are other examples of indirect dialogue in "The Leap." Just look for the bits where someone's conversation is suggested. Also, Erdrich uses this technique so effectively that she evokes the mental image of the conversation ongoing.

[Tat the cat and Oscar, the big black cat with the large yellow eyes, are the creation of Audrey Titcombe (author), Bill Titcombe (illustrator). The random dialogue is my own invention.]

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