Approaching Prose Narrative with Modern Narrative Theory of Focalization and Voice: A Comparative Study of Achebe's Things Fall Apart and Fikeremarkos's Land of the Yellow Bull

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Addis Ababa University


Narratorlogy, a theory of narrative, helps us to highlight the distinctiveness of any given narrative, compare any number of narratives to institute a narrative according to narratively pertinent features, and certain interpretive conclusions. The present study explores the methodological and practical consequences of the Genettean and post-Genettean theory of narrative. Focusing on narrative voice and focalization, the study reviews and situates traditional 'point of view' concepts within the narratological framework of Genettean and post-Genettean voice and focal ization theory by moving, roughly speaking, from Genette(l980) to Stanzel ( 1984), including other important concepts of recent contributors to the field. This narrato logical toolbox has been practically used to analyze two case study novels: Land of the Yellow Bull and Things Fall Apart. The study considers narrative to include all types of genres, literary or non-literary, fictional or non-fictional, and verbal or non-verbal.Besides, the study examines the integrative investigation of both stol'Y narratology and discourse na .... atology in the novels under discussion. Furthermore, although narrato logy has different specialized field s, for example, cognitive narratology, this study focuses on narratology as a general exploration which builds a basic narratological framework and shows how to apply it in the analysis of prose narrative fiction. The study also proposes to show that a given narrative technique cannot be judged accord ing to its service to the narrative but only according to its success in particular works, because narrative content has no basis except in the narrative act and the narrative act cannot carry within itself its own predetermined meanings and effects. Furthermore, the study also argues that among the different narratological concerns, narrative voice and focali zation are the two significant and salient features of a prose na'Tative. Methodologically, the researcher depends on .literary and qualitative methods and on the critical and literary reviews of voice and focalization as narrative techniques which are believed to help the researcher identify relevant theories, recent modifications and developments in this area. Thus, the researcher will focus on investigating and class ifying the categories of voice and focalization. This will lead the research to class ify, analyze and interpret the facts and events in the two selected novels against the data collected in line with the se lected categories of criticism, viz., focali zation and vo ice. Based on the above theoretical framework and methodology, the following general findings have been arrived at. In both the nove ls, the authors employed heterodiegetic authori al-figural narrator to tell the story. Both narrators in the novels under discussion are sexually indeterminate, and therefore, they have been gendered according to the sex of the author of each of the novels. Unlike Land of Yellow Bull, in Things Fall Apart, inside the overall matrix, there are seven embedded narratives which are narrated by intradiegetic narrators. All these narrators are heterodiegetic in relation to the story they relate. Regarding focali zation, both authors utilized an external focalizer dominantly, though there are instances of internal focali zations, too. In Things Fall Apart, window shift and window overlap is the underl ying narrative technique of focali ztion. In Land of the Y cllow Bull, although there are instances of window shift, the pervading narrative technique in focalization is window overlap.



Approaching Prose Narrative with Modern Narrative Theory of Focalization