Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Variation in Character Description

I was very taken by how Albanov approached his crew. He seldom mentions a name (save the one man from Norway who he felt appropriate to mention because of his unique history) and the reader is never allowed to grow close to anyone but him. When he mentions a name, it means nothing to the reader because we have not been given much of a chance to get to know the crew. Albanov's 'companions' are approached much differently than Barrett's characters, who introduces each character in great detail. To Albanov, the crew is an afterthought but to Barrett they are the focal point of the story.

Albanov abstractly mentions disputes- one between two men who shared malitsi and another between himself and his Lieutenant Brusilov- but the reader is never brought into the dynamics of the quarrel. Barrett, on the other hand, guides her readers through the disputes; compelling them to understand the minds of all involved and the intricacies of the interaction.

I think that the difference is due to the different goals of the two authors. Albanov focuses on narrative and more general details of his journey while Barrett uses dialogue and relationships to add to the adventure of her narrative. This difference is likely due to the nature of the texts: non fiction vs. fiction. Because Albanov does not have much of a written record of his adventure, he chooses to focus instead on what he remembers of the landscape and the harshness of the environment (and probably even embellishes that). Barrett has the flexibility to create and thus can make the dialogue as detailed as she likes.

1 comment:

  1. I thought it was almost a jarring change from the books we've read thus far. Many of the previous novels have focused extensively on the development of the supporting characters. I guess I was taking it for granted that I felt like I knew the motivations and could understand the behaviors of the people in the story other than the main character. It was interesting to read this and feel like there was a conscious decision made to focus exclusively on the details of the expedition.