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Duration (Faisal)

In his chapter on duration, David Lodge states “Another aspect of fictional time is duration, as measured by comparing the time events would have taken up in reality with the time taken to read about them. This factor affects narrative tempo, the sense we have that a novel is fast moving or slow moving.” I completely agree with Lodge’s statement. The novelist can manipulate the story’s timeline making the reader think whether the narrative tempo is fast or slow. Kate Chopin applies this technique to her stories making the narrative tempo fast or slow. In “Beyond the Bayou”, Chopin makes the duration of the story fast in the beginning and very slow towards the end. Chopin explains in the beginning how La Folle stayed on the plantation after the Civil War for decades while all the other former slaves left. The narrative tempo is very fast as the events tackle one after the other. However, the narrative tempo then slows down. Chopin begins to explain La Folle’s love for Chéri. The story then goes on to show how La Folle’s love helped her conquer her fears. The narrative tempo here is slow, as the reader would take a while to read, and the time it took to for the events to happen in reality is less than a day. In “La Belle Zoarïde”, the time in which the events would have taken up in reality is very long, as Chopin goes on to explain Zoraïde’s life and how her problems pan out. However, the time in which the reader takes to read the story is relatively short. The narrative tempo in this short story is fast as compared to “Beyond the Bayou”, which has a very slow narrative tempo. Chopin clearly demonstrates Lodge’s emphasis on duration and the novelist ability to control the narrative tempo.


2 Comments

  1. laithab says:

    Kate Chopin also applies this technique in “The Lilies”. The total time in which the story happens is just over one day. the tempo of the story feels fast as the story progresses quickly keeping the reader interested in the story. Implementing the right tempo is crucial to the writer to capture the readers attention. When the wrong tempo is chosen for a story it makes the story either really boring or too fast for the reader to understand what it is going on.

  2. zahrawahed says:

    This helped me further understand David Lodges points better. It helped me understand that one of Lodges main points were “measured by comparing the time events would have taken up in reality, with the time taken to read about them.” This gives a reader a sense of imagination of what the event is vs. the reality of it. The reason this is significant and applies to the book is because it impacts the narrative tempo, which is ‘a novel that is either fast moving or slow moving’. This helped me better understand why duration was used and how it affected the novel. It also made me understand how the reader felt.

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