The Other Woman by Sherwood Anderson, 1920
The magic trick:
Using a narrator to re-tell the protagonist’s story
“The Other Woman” tells the story of a man who sleeps with a local cigar-store clerk on the night before his wedding. But is is not told to the reader from a simple, omniscient third-person narrator. Hence the magic trick. We get the story from a first-person narrator who is relating the story as it was relayed to him by the man who is central to the story. Confused yet? It really isn’t confusing. I’m just making it sound confusing.
Anyway, this narration technique really adds nuance to the tale because now the reader is able to make accurate judgments about the protagonist’s motives and true feelings. We are close enough to his mindset to get a complete picture but far enough distanced to get an accurate view. And that’s quite a trick on Anderson’s part.
As he explained when he told me of his experience, it was for him an altogether abnormal time. He felt like one floating in air. When he got into bed after seeing so many people and hearing so many words of praise his head whirled round and round. When he closed his eyes a crowd of people invaded his room. It seemed as though the minds of all the people of his city were centred on himself. The most absurd fancies took possession of him.
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