Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Robbe-Grillet uses surrealism to illustrate feelings about traditional gender relations. This is perhaps the best form in which to express such thoughts, as the topics and questions raised challenge the traditional way one thinks about the world. It is also more effective to present this conflict with shadowy characters in an unreal setting than to discuss it in a more realistic manner. The surreal context allows readers to step outside their own situations and look at the story from a perspective that had not been previously possible. Thus readers may empathize with a fictional character who may not be unlike a person from everyday life. Readers may then be equipped to apply this new perspective to their own situations.

Robbe-Grillet’s writing is characterized by detailed descriptions. The story begins with the minute details of a flow of blood that, at first, seems to fill the entire picture. It is hard for the reader to tell what will happen next, because the setting is so unfamiliar.

When the unfamiliarity is established, Robbe-Grillet denaturalizes the view of the reader through a cinematic viewpoint. The reader is coerced into viewing the scene in the way the author has presented it. This cinematic technique is useful in demonstrating the author’s assertion that the mutilations described happen in a temporal context as well as in a spatial one, a fact most clearly demonstrated as the story appears to rewind and play back, and also when the author reveals the same scenes from different vantage points.