Find the Focalizor
Guillermo Samperio’s “She Lived in a Story” is about a man, who he named after himself, who is writing a story about a girl, who is writing a story about a man, and by the end of the story, the two characters meet and accept their fate together. This is a great clash of reality and imagination meeting as one; both are made up characters, one made up by the author, and the other created by the character created by the author. Aside from the story being a representation of the combining of two different worlds, imaginary and what we perceive to be real, it is also a great example of focalization, collective focalization to be exact. “Without thinking about it, he decides to move closer; with this movement of his legs, he finally achieves lucidity. He stops next to me; in silence, accepting our fatal destiny, he takes my hand and I am willing,” (Samperio 62). This is a quote, the final quote, from Samperio’s “She Lived in a Story” which depicts a very important aspect of focalization. There are a couple of different types of focalizations but the one being portrayed by this quote is collective focalization, which is when there is focalization through a group of characters. The quote depicts the two characters of the story, characters that should have never met because they existed in two different stories, discovering one another only to see what fate has in store for them. Sadly enough fate had a fatal ending for both of the characters, but I believe that it was the perfect ending for a story that was only about stories. Fixed focalization has taken place throughout the story, meaning that there was only one view point, and to end the story with collective focalization, viewpoints of a group of people, is very clever and it puts a simple end to the story. It’s an odd occurrence though when the two characters meet; it’s as though something has drawn them together, and they have this extreme feeling of trust for one another which could be considered odd since they’ve never met before. I use the word extreme to describe their trust because without a word, she accepts his hand and tells him that she is willing to die; it is their fatal destiny. Since this is collective focalization, we are seeing two different viewpoints in the end of this story, and they are both very comfortable with one another regardless of the fact that they have never met before. Samperio says that the male character has reached “lucidity” and the word lucid means a clear perception or understanding. As a reader, you can feel the freedom and the relief and the sense of confidence he has walking towards her to accept his fate, and same goes for Ofelia when she reaches out and takes his hand. He also made these moves without thinking; somehow he knew that it was what he had to do and she knew that it’s what she had to do. All in all, I thought having all the characters meet at the end of the story was the perfect ending to a story about multiple made up characters; it was their fate all along even if we didn’t think it was possible.
Another type of focalization that Samperio takes advantage of in his short story is hypothetical focalization. Samperio writes about a man that he named after himself that creates a story about a girl named Ofelia; he even goes as far as using the exact title of his story as the title of the story about Ofelia. Guillermo’s character, Guillermo, starts the story off with Ofelia reminiscing back to a wet and dreary night when she was walking through the streets and felt a weird vibe. The weird vibe that she is feeling is hypothetical focalization; she feels as though someone, something, or a group of things are watching her but she has no idea what they or it is. “Although it was impossible to ascertain from which direction, Ofelia sensed that she was being watched. On the corner of Francisco Sosa and Ave Maria she stopped while a car turned right. She took advantage of this instant to look behind her, thinking that she would discover who was watching her” (Samperio 58). Hypothetical focalization is when the viewpoint of a hypothetical observer or a virtual spectator comes into play in the story. These eyes that Ofelia feels on her, this mysterious something that is watching her is that hypothetical observer, and the hypothetical observer is the reader or the audience watching what’s going on. The audience is in the darkness so she cannot see that they are there, but she knows they are there and can feel them watching her. We as the readers and the audience to the story that she is telling, have our own view point to exactly what is happening to her and it comes into play in this part of the story. We get to see with our own eyes what is happening to her and how she is reacting by rubbing her hands together, walking faster, and looking into the trees to see if she could find who or what was watching her. We are able to feel the vulnerability and the fear that she does as her body shudders while walking through the darkness; we witness what she does. I agree with the way Samperio brings this type of focalization into the story as well; the whole story is about different viewpoints of different characters so why not add in the viewpoints of his readers and audience as well? It was a very clever story through and through, whether it was the titles or names of the characters or the way he switched from viewpoint to viewpoint with different focalizations; an interesting story indeed.
Samperio, Guillermo. “She Lived in a Story.” New Writing From Mexico 1992: 54-62.