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. Mark twain applies these techniques in his stories to make the narrative tempo either fast or slow. In “The Story of The Bad Little Boy Who Didn’t Come to Grief”, the entire life of the boy is explained in less than 5 pages. A whole life, which would take up to 80 years, is explained in less than 15 minutes. The narrative tempo is manipulated by Twain to make the sense that the novel is moving very fast. In the end of the story, Twain states “And he grew up, and married, and raised a large family, and brained them all with an ax one night…” This excerpt of the story shows how the narrative tempo if extremely fast in this story. The same thing goes to “The Story of The Good Little Boy Who Did Not Prosper.” The boy’s life story is explained fully in a matter of pages.