Applications of Rhetorical Narratology
to Aspects of Narrative
In the second and third chapters I provided a general approach to the analysis of narratives, concentrating on the structure of narrative transmission as defined primarily by audience positions (authorial and narrating audiences and narratees) and the voices that can be discerned or inferred (extrafictional voice, implied author, narrator, and focalizer). I have shown how relationships among these positions can be understood as offering to actual readers opportunities for identification, for ironic distance, and, in the case of a narrative that fails with a reader, for rejection. I have shown how a narrative's locutions must be understood within a context of illocutions that are constituted in the interaction between text and reader, are governed by four ur-conventions and the principle of hyperprotection, implicate messages from author to reader, and thus have a great deal to do with how a reader reacts to the narrative's ideology and “interprets” its theme. In short, I have shown how illocutionary acts can result in perlocutionary effects, as long as the situational context is one that allows the principles of relevance to operate.
My purpose in the present chapter is to refine this approach by applying it to four aspects of narrative that have especially interested narratologists over the past several decades: the relationship of plot and theme to narrative discourse, the gendering of narrating voices, the temporal structure of narratives, and the representation of both inner and voiced speech. (My exclusion of the topic of “character” may seem odd, but James Phelan, in Reading People, Reading Plots, has done a masterful job of placing character within a rhetorical context.) Having already touched on the first two aspects, I will begin with them.
Plot and theme are two of the elements of narrative most frequently discussed in introduction-to-literature textbooks, characterization