The Miracle of the Birds

by Jorge Amado

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Style and Technique

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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 442

Critics characterize Amado as an instinctive writer. His comparative lack of reflectiveness and defects of craftsmanship are compensated by his ability to captivate the reader with his storytelling skills. If his work is marked by a certain glibness, there is also an undeniable vividness to the scenes in his stories and novels, and “The Miracle of the Birds” is no exception.

Amado characteristically uses the device of authorial narrative in his fiction, that is, of a storyteller reporting and commenting on events. Widely used for centuries, this framing device is evident in Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones (1749) as well as Miguel de Cervantes’s El ingenioso hidalgo don Quixote de la Mancha (1605, 1615; The History of the Valorous and Wittie Knight-Errant, Don Quixote of the Mancha, 1612-1620; better known as Don Quixote de la Mancha). Producing the sense of immediacy and “presentness” made possible by a first-person narrative, the technique also permits the writer to exploit such privileges of third-person narration as intrusion and commentary, thereby directing the reader’s interpretation of events. The device aims, ultimately, at convincing the reader of the “reality,” or authenticity, of the story being told.

The authorial narrative relies largely on simulating the spoken word, enabling Amado’s fiction to bridge the worlds of folklore and myth. The “realism” of Amado’s style, then, seeks to approximate that of popular literature. Indeed, his narrative pose is that of a chronicler of “the people,” rooted in the oral tradition of popular folklore and song. In keeping with this tradition, sustaining action is his forte. His characters, following E. M. Forster’s categorization, are more apt to be “flat” than “round”; that is, they are readily identifiable and should not be expected to develop or to display complexity. As with the characters in popular literature, they are iconographic.

Amado’s intermingling of the real and the super-or supra-real links him not only to local folklore and myth but also to the technique of Magical Realism so prevalent in modern Latin American fiction. This style serves to reinforce the irrationality of Amado’s work, infused as it is with the romantic temperament of the author. Although Amado’s use of the marvelous may be considered symbolic, as well as highly effective in terms of the storyteller’s art, it also implies to critics such as Patai the inability to affect the true causes of events. It has been suggested after all that in societies, including many still in Latin America, in which the gap between the “have” and the “have nots” remains great, the influence of magic, as one of the few weapons left available to the latter, remains strong.

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