Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

The fact that Mobile is dedicated to the memory of Jackson Pollock is a clue to Butor’s technique as well as to his theme. The abstract expressionist painter is best known for his technique of pouring and spattering of paint across his canvases instead of using the more common method of applying paint with a brush. Butor throws words across the page in somewhat the same manner that Pollock threw paint. The words seem to tumble around like so many blobs of acrylic. While there are many small patterns to be seen, the series of patterns does not lead to any kind of coherent whole.Sentences do not necessarily begin with capital letters, nor do they always observe the traditional boundaries of commas and periods. The chapter headings are all capitalized, but the headings may be buried in the middle of the page. Sometimes the states’ names are written out, and sometimes, for no apparent reason, they are abbreviated. The typography, or the way that the words appear on the page, is unpredictable. Some sentences begin at the right-hand side of the page and work backward; other sentences or fragments begin in the middle of the page. A large portion of the book, approximately one-third, is printed in italics. All the excerpts from Penn, Franklin, and Jefferson are italicized, but other italicized portions are not attributed. Therefore, it is not possible to determine whether those portions come from anonymous writers or from the objective narrator. Transitions from...

(The entire section is 508 words.)