David Lodge oversees the idea and methodology of narrative structure through the keyhole point of view between two short stories. “The Hand” and “All Right” both are short stories but that is the only similarity they share between them as their narrative structures and internal verbal echoes prove to be each other’s greatest adversaries. He displays the stories bare in front of the reader to decipher on their own then later distinguishes and criticizes their true meanings, like peeling an onion only to find more to peel on the inside filled with an entirely new outlook.
Kate Chopin’s Short Stories
Regarding one of Kate Chopin’s short stories, “Dead Men’s Shoes”, we see how the story opens with a narrative structure that is simple enough. The reader automatically is aware of the situation by the end of the first sentence and is familiar with the syntax and diction that is being used. As the story progresses, however, we see many sudden shifts in points of view which change the narrative structure along with the diction and syntax. Most of the time this pertains to the change in dialogue especially between Gilma and Septime with words such as “hoss” meaning “horse” and “aff’davits” meaning “affidavit”. This odd use of language pertains to the way the language was during the time which may be difficult for the reader to understand and may cause slight difficulty with the narrative structure, but immerses the reader into the story more and makes the feel of the late 19th century Creole life during a post-civil war Louisiana.
Another example of the interesting use of Kate Chopin’s narrative structure in her short stories can be found in “The Lilies” which is also set in the late 19th century of a post-civil war Louisiana. The story opens not with our main characters but a mischievous vagabond by the name of Mamouche who let a calf loose and open the fence rails to Mr. Billy’s crop which soon was being destroyed by the calf as Mamouche ran away successfully completing his diabolical plan. This then lets the author introduce the main characters and the situation at hand and how eventually through the use of lilies, the problem was solved and forgiven for. The story was much more focused on the third person point of view and guided the reader throughout the story with similar syntax and diction with a dash of the French aristocracy that Louisiana had at the time.
The structure of a narrative is like the framework of girders that holds up a modern high-rise building; you can’t see it, but it determines the edifice’s shape and character.
I found this statement the most influentially echoing throughout my reading as it holds true to its meaning. The invisible and unnoticed strings of narrative structure within a story easily fall into one of the highest requirements of a well-told story. The characters, plot, points of view, and grammar mean nothing without the narrative structure as it is what ties them all together into a sensical piece of work that a reader can understand. It’s like making bread without the oven. You may have the flour, yeast, and water, but without the oven, you can’t make the bread you need. The narrative structure molds the entire story from beginning to end to what it will become and the decisions and character development and growth is all determined based on the events that occur and how they occur. The narrative structure is responsible for making novels such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”, which in my opinion has one of the most difficult and complex narrative structures, the masterpiece that it is.