What is a FRAME NARRATIVE? In a nutshell, a frame narrative is a “story within a story”
Examples of FRAME NARRATIVES... Titanic – (the movie) the story of “Old Rose” revisiting the site of the Titanic “bookends” the love story of Jack and “Young Rose” onboard the ship in 1912 Forrest Gump – Forrest (in the present) is telling his life story (of Forrest in the past) to various citizens on the park bench Can you think of any others?
Another way to view FRAME NARRATIVES... We can look at frame narratives as a diagram For example, with Titanic: “Old Rose” Love story of “Young Rose” and Jack
FRAME NARRATIVE in Life of Pi Martel uses a FRAME NARRATIVE Martel is the “real” author of the novel, Life of Pi… The story begins with an Author’s Note, narrated by an anonymous author figure This creates the illusion that the book is fact/real, when in fact it is FICTIONAL Why do you think he may have done this?
FRAME NARRATIVE in Life of Pi The italicized passages are the voice of an anonymous author who is writing a story, told in Pi’s own words These passages provide a description of how he learned about Pi, as well as his interviews with Pi in the present day.
FRAME NARRATIVE in Life of Pi The story has THREE narrative “layers” (plus a “mystery” layer...) The author of the novel itself, Yann Martel The “author” of the Author’s Note (who is talking about meeting with Francis (Mamaji) Adirubasamy and interviewing “real” Pi while researching for the novel Piscine Molitor Patel in present day who is narrating the story of his younger self There is one more narrative layer or “voice” to this story that is yet to be discovered. See if you can figure it out by the end of the novel…
FRAME NARRATIVE in Life of Pi Now that we have all the layers or “voices” for our FRAME NARRATIVE, draw a diagram to represent them Yann Martel Author’s Note Pi Patel the Narrator ?
So what is the PURPOSE of a FRAME NARRATIVE? The shifts in point of view (POV) serve to create a sense of verisimilitude Verisimilitude – the appearance of something to be real or true – when what we are reading appears to be true e.g. A character in a book cuts his/her finger and the finger bleeds. We believe it is happening – if the book said the cut finger produced sparks of fire rather than blood, the story would NOT possess verisimilitude
So what is the PURPOSE of a FRAME NARRATIVE? Even fantasy or sci-fi novels/stories which deal with impossible (or very improbable) events can possess verisimilitude if the reader is willing to suspend their disbelief Willing suspension of disbelief – when a reader/viewer temporarily and willingly sets aside their beliefs about reality in order to enjoy the “make-believe” of a play, novel, poem or movie – e.g. We can watch Harry Potter without feeling “gullible” as long as we, the audience, set aside our sense of what is “real” for the duration of the movie.