In The Fragmented Life of Don Jacobo Lerner, the events of the characters’ lives and their own qualities are revealed gradually through four kinds of narration, which alternate as the book progresses. The most objective narrative consists of quotations from the public record—from the birth registration of Efraín, for example, or from Jewish Soul, whose social notes, pleas for taking Peruvian citizenship, and historical comments on past persecutions reveal the always nervous background of the Jewish community and its attempts to attain some feeling of security in an alien society. In addition, dated “Chronicles” reveal public events and private musings in a stylized objectivity. Interspersed with this deliberately emotionless material are third-person accounts, sometimes with limited omniscience. The fourth method, and the most revealing, is the dramatic monologue. Because the monologues are not chronologically ordered but are interspersed among the chronological quotations and “Chronicles,” there is an alternation between chronological narration and psychological narration which produces suspense somewhat in the mode of a murder mystery. Events are discovered, and therefore characters must be reinterpreted, or characters are revealed by their reactions to events which have already been discovered.
For example, as the protagonist, Don Jacobo appears first as a rather weak man who has seduced and abandoned Bertila. Later,...
(The entire section is 596 words.)