This week, I want to finish looking at Normal People, although this rich book could easily yield more discussion. However, certain audience members have a tendency to become…restless, shall we say. You know who you are. Last time, we looked at a key sequence in the book, beginning on page 229 of the 2020 Hogarth paperback edition, in a chapter entitled Four Months Later (July 2014), followed by Five Minutes Later (July 2014). The first chapter is from Marianne’s perspective,
Sex is an integral part of Normal People. Let’s get a definition. (Wait…what? A definition of sex?) Yes, we all “know” what sex is, but I like to begin with a definition of a concept I’m writing about so that everyone knows the basis of things. (So that we’re all on the same page?) ‘Kay. It’s hard to find a useful definition of sex, which is notable, I think. The English word “sex” comes from a Latin word meaning to divide. Most definitions tend to involve circularities like
This week, let’s look at one of two major themes in Normal People, social class. I realize that last time, I left off with the threat to get into a mysterious issue, the role of dialogue and whether it may represent the characters speaking directly to the reader rather than through the narrator. I don’t wish to dodge this, but I’m not sure that Normal People is a clear example, so I will postpone the matter. (Yay!) Thematically, Normal People is a lot about sex and social cla
We’ve talked about how, at times, the locus of narration in Normal People can be hard to determine. That first sentence, “Marianne answers the door when Connell rings the bell,” could be the narrator’s perspective reporting about Connell, or about Marianne’s perspective. It’s ambiguous, and I believe it’s deliberate. Because the two characters are so intimate, their perspectives blur. But, as the first chapter develops, it becomes clearer that it’s from Connell’s perspective.
This week, let’s look more closely at the role of the narrator in Normal People. A definition, please. A person who narrates something, especially a character who recounts the events of a novel. So, the narrator entity tells the story, right? I’m afraid it’s more complicated. Are we going down the rabbit hole? Hang on. Long time readers of this blog will recall that I like to make a distinction between the real author of a story, the implied author, the narrator, and the prot
Normal People, I’m going to say, is a book of recollection. A story of two people, told from a future vantage point and ending in a way that indicates the story will continue. One of the chief ways the author gives this effect is in the use of time. Time is handled in an interesting and skillful fashion. The reader notices right away that each chapter of the story is identified by a reference to a date and period of time. Thus, the first chapter is “January 2011,” the second
As we continue our exploration of Sally Rooney’s Normal People, let’s take a look at some structural issues. The story concerns two main characters, Marianne and Connell, and is told by an unnamed narrator in intriguing and adept fashion, a narrator who is able to whiz around and get inside all the characters’ heads. This busy and dare we say omniscient narrator entity however, is not an “I” in the story. It is not a character narrator as we have encountered before, actually
This week, a new story, my friends, Irish author Sally Rooney’s 2018 novel, Normal People. Normal People was a bestseller in the United States and won critical acclaim, including being longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize. Set in Ireland during the post 2008 economic downturn, it concerns two young Irish folk, Marianne Sheridan and Connell Waldron, and their relationship over time as friends and lovers. An Emmy nominated television adaption of the book aired in 2020. Afte