Literature, Language, and Life

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“Through time shift, narrative avoids presenting life as just one thing after another, and allows us to make connections of causality and irony between widely separated events. A Shift of narrative focus back in time may change our interpretation of something which happened much later in the chronology of the story, but which we have already experience as readers of the text.”(page 75)

“Time shift is very common effect in modern fiction, but usually it is “naturalized” as the operation of memory, either in the representation of character’s stream of consciousness.” (page 77)

Lodge made a good point about how time-shift allows us to make connection of causality and irony between different events, and that knowing what happened in the past, may change our interpretation of what is the current situation in the story or what will happen towards the end of the story. In some of Kate Chopin’s short stories, a shift of narrative is applied. In the story Beyond the Bayou, time-shift was used in order to inspect the reason for the conflict. This story talks about La Folle who was afraid to step into the Bayou, and in the story, Kate Chopin gives us a flashback of why La Folle does not want to go beyond the Bayou and how “she had been frightened literally “out of her senses,” and had never wholly regained them.”Time-shift played a major role in this short story, without the use of time-shift, the reason for La Folle’s fear of stepping past the Bayou would have not been understandable. Lodge also made a point that time-shift is commonly used in modern fiction, and could be used once a character is reminiscing about the past, which are usually written as monologues in which the character is telling the story. In Beyond the Bayou the time-shift or the memory of what caused La Folle’s fear was not written as a monologue but was a story/flashback that was told by the narrator. Although lodge’s second point does not fully relate to Chopin’s story, it is considered to be naturalized. 


  1. lubnamostafa says:

    Time shift makes Chopins stories more dynamic and provides a rationale for why events happen the way they do. The narrative frame in La Belle Zoraide also allowed room for a time shift. The narrator of the story Monna Loulou seems reminiscent and the song she sings at the beginning show us a nostalgic side of her as she is recalling things from the past. Good point about how without the time shift to explain how La Folle had acquired her nickname we wouldn’t really understand the depth of her accomplishments

  2. kurdi33blog says:

    After reading over your blog post i have developed a greater understanding of time-shift in stories. Even though the examples are only from kates stories i believe that the theme of time-shift can be applied to all stories, and the connections you stated from lodge were very helpful.

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