In the short story “Where Is the Voice Coming From?” by Rudy Wiebe, why and how does the narrator emphasize Almighty Voice’s masculinity? 

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a story about making a story, or about writing and interpreting history. The story begins with this project and then the reader is given fragments and assorted facts relating to the life and death of Jean-Baptiste (Almighty Voice). The facts are numerous but incomplete and some of the facts contradict others. The written descriptions of the appearance of Almighty Voice likewise contradict the picture. The narrator notes that in one of the descriptions, Almighty Voice is described as having a "feminine appearance" as well as having "neat small feet and hands." But when describing the actual picture, the narrator says: 

But the picture: any face of history, any believed face that the world acknowledges as man - Socrates, Jesus, Attila, Genghis Khan, Mahatma Gandhi, Joseph Stalin - no believed face is more man than this face. 

Clearly, the written description has been used to feminize Almighty Voice in attempts to diminish his masculine strength. The narrator emphasizes Almighty Voice's masculinity to show the difference between the picture and the descriptions written presumably by the white authorities. 

The narrator determines that Chardin's and Aristotle's suppositions about storytelling are inadequate. The storyteller can not distance himself from the events. And the storyteller is not one or the other: relating what has happened or relating what may happen (poet). Rather, the historian relates what is happening; this implies that the historian/storyteller takes part in (is a part of) the story. In attempting to sort through conflicting accounts and facts, the storyteller/historian must evaluate the facts as well as the poetry (i.e., the death chant) in synthesizing the information into a story. This is especially true when trying to recover a history of an individual or people whose "voice" has been silenced (in death and in the history books) by another oppressive group. 

Emphasizing that masculinity is just one way of noting the contradiction of facts. It is an attempt to take part in or recreate a voice in history that has been silenced and/or falsely interpreted. 

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