Final Paper


Jessica Villejoint                                                                              Prof. Alvarez

6/9/2011                                                                                              Eng 363

Jahn’s Narrative Levels Of: “She Lived in a Story and Don Quixote”



Stories can be very confusing if not read properly. Authors tend to make stories confusing for plenty of reasons such as to make the story unique or boring. Different stories can open up to different people, so that’s why authors have variety of different stories. Readers usually get lost if they dont understand a text, this is where Narratology could be useful. This essay will focus on Narrative levels on Third degree narrative and Matrix narrative. When you get lose in a story, what do you do? Do you stop reading or just keep going and get more lost? Maybe people tend to get lost because they dont understand the narrator levels in that story.  If one that is lost in a story take time out to figure out the narratology of that story they will be able to comprehend the story much better. Narratology is useful to help readers understand the role of the characters. Is useful because it helps point out the purpose of the story. It helps you realize why and how the author told the story that way. After Jahn theory on Narrotology, I feel like I understand stories much better because I use levels of narratollgy to seperate the characters. Such as the story “I Lived in A Story” which was extrrmely confusing to me, but after using levels of narration i undetstand the characters purpose. Some people thinks that Narratology is more confusing and could make the reader lose faith and focus. They think its confusing because there are so many terms listed that you have you know. As long as you have the defination with you it shouldn’t be hard, just seperate the characters that you think that match the term. 


Jahn’s theory on Narratology is very helpful to understand stories  that has multiple characters. A Guide to the Theory Of Narrative is a helpful way to help you narrow down the levels. In the theory of literature there is the study of narrative structure. Narratology looks at what narratives have in common and what makes one different from another. Jahn says that “The third degree narrative is one that is embedded in a second- degree narrative ect. Meaning the third degree narrative is the surrounding of the second degree narrative. It is an extra idea of the second degree narrative. A matrix narrative is something within which something else originates. It comes from a Latin word meaning (mother, womb), which means the creator of the whole story. Without the matrix narrative the story wouldn’t exist.” Jahn states that “First we must define narrative itself. What are the main ingredients of a narrative? What must a narrative have for it to count as narrative? For a simple answer let us say that all narratives present a story. A story is a sequence of events which involves characters. Hence, a narrative is a form of communication which presents a sequence of events caused and experienced by characters. In verbally told stories, such as we are dealing with here, we also have a story-teller, a narrator. This getting started section will mainly focus on narrators and characters”. Narratology has numerous words with definations that must be defined in order to understand the meaning and purpose. After knowing the defination of the words, it beconmes less confusing and actually more helpful.

In the story “She Lived in a Story” by Guillermo Samperio, Ofelia is the third degree narrative. The quote “I write that he writes a story that I live in” (Samperia 60) shows that Ofelia is aware that the author Segovia (the author who is also in the story) is writing a story that is about her life. This means that Segovia is the second degree narrator. Segovia is the second degree narrative because in the story he is the author writing about a story. The fact that he is writing about Ofelia makes her character the last degree narrative subject of the whole story. The title “She Lived in a Story” itself explains that the female character is the one whose life is being targeted and watched by a person, and that person would be the second degree narrator with the information. Which means the title explains the quote. The quote explains that she knows that she is the third degree narrative because she is the one who the author in then story is focusing on. The quote proves that she is aware that he (Segovia the author) is the main subject of the story and she comes after. The fact that she knows that she is the last degree narrator, makes the story more interesting. Their isn’t many stories with quotes indicating that the second degree narrator knows that they are being watched by another person. The narrative levels are a good way to narrow down the position of each narrators in a story. Some stories only has one narrator, but some stories such as “She Lived In A Story” has more than one narrator and this is a helpful way to narrow them down. To have less confusion look at the narrators as levels because that way it be less confusing.  In this case the story “She Lived in a Story” the matrix would be Segovia. The quote “To live in a text” (Samperio 55) Segovia is saying to himself that he has to write a story that his readers can relate to. This quote shows that Segovia is going to be the creator of the story that he is going to write. Segovia wanted to write a story that seems surreal. He wanted to build a story that is real and well- structured, and to do that he had to make a story based on someone’s life. In the story Segovia was the one who came up with all the ideas to make a marvelous story, which makes him the original creator. He came up with the idea of making his story based on Ofelia’s life. He said the words “To live in a text” twice to himself, that’s where he came up with the idea to name the story “She Live in a Text”.  He figured a women living in his story would be the best fit. Segovia is the matrix narrator because he is the master creator of the whole story, whatever he says goes. The general frame work is Samperio, because he is not a character in the story, nobody created him and he is actually the creator of the whole story, he is the one that created Segovia. Since Segovia is a character in the story, he is the matrix/ 2nd narrative in the story.

In the story Don Quixote, Don would be the matrix narrative because his mind has a story of his own. He views everything a different way than how everyone else views things. His side kick Sancho would be third degree narrative because since he has a interesting relationship with Don and is his helper he comes after don. Don feels that he created Sancho and Sancho is his side kick so that makes sancho the third degree narrative because Don created him. A round character is three dimensional; have conflicting characters, not a stereotype. It is a complex literally character with fully develop traits. The round character can be more reliable out of the rest of the characters. The novel “Don Quixote” by Cervantes, Don Quixote is a round character because he is the main character and the only character with plenty of conflicts. The quote where Don says to Sancho “It’s my belief, Sancho, that all your sufferings are caused by your not having been admitted to the order of chivalry, for it seems to me that this liquor does not benefit those who are not knights” (Cervantes 133) proves that Quixote knew that he was fit to be successful but Sancho wasn’t fit to be successful and Quixote believed the drink they drank proved it. It seems as if Quixote was extremely optimistic. He was so sure of himself that he is the best knight and tried bringing Sancho’s spirit down. Quixote had a very strong character, even though the narrator and other people thought that he was insane. Quixote is a round character because he has been through a lot during the whole story and still maintained to conquer what he waned to accomplish. He was clearly obsessed with adventures and being a knight throughout the whole story. After reading these books he decided to go through adventures. The fact that he had always stuck with the same idea of being a knight and being adventurous without ever deciding to give up, shows his character is fully develop with him knowing exactly what he wants. Everyone thought he was insane because he didn’t sleep or ate but read tremoundsly, but in his mind he thought that he wasn’t insane but he was being ambitious. Even though it was a bit insane that Quixote was trying to live an adventurous life just as the characters in the stories he was reading, On the other hand, Quixote isn’t insane because he was very constant with his discussion of being a brave knight throughout the whole story. In order for an individual to be insane they must never be constant about knowing who they actually are. Throughout the novel Quixote was an adventurous knight, so he knew who he was. His character always stayed the same and had a big impact in the novel which makes him a round character. A flat character is a one dimensional, doesn’t develop and can be a stereotype. The flat character represents a “type” more than a personality. A flat character is the highlight that develops around a round character, which is a side kick of the main character. Sancho is a flat character in the story “Don Quixote”. Sancho replied to Quixote “Well I’ll be damned and all my kinsfolk too! If you knew that, why did you let me drink the stuff in the first place?” (Cervantes 133). Sancho said that because he was furious that Quixote had let him drink the wine knowing that the wine wouldn’t help him because he isn’t fit enough to be a knight. Quixote had complete control of Sancho, because Sancho’s character wasn’t as strong minded as his. Quixote manipulated Sancho into believing he isn’t worth being a knight, when in fact Sancho probably is more fit than he is. Since Sancho isn’t as determined as Quixote he actually believes Quixote. Quixote said that remark to Sancho to bring down his self esteem and that way Quixote will always have the upper hand and always have him as his loyal sidekick.  Sancho is a flat character because he was the loyal sidekick of Quixote. He never had a voice of his own. He seemed as if he wasn’t sure of himself, first he hated being a laborer and wanted to be a Governor. Than when he got the chance of seeing how it is to be a Governor, he decided that he would rather be a laborer. He has more of stable mind than Quixote but he isn’t as ambitious as Quixote. Sancho never had a main personality that readers could rely on. The only role he stuck with was the role of always being right by Quixote’s side and helping him out. Sancho’s character wasn’t introduce in the first chapter which indicates that his character is not the main character that readers should focus on, but the fact that he is the supporter of the main character (Quixote) means that his character is extremely important. Without Sancho by his side, Quixote probably wouldn’t be able to go through his adventures alone which make Sancho a flat character. Every determined, ambitious and brave character has to have a loyal sidekick by his side.


The two texts are similar and also different. They both have connections with third degree narrative and matrix narrative. Most stories that has characters and plots  must deal with matrix and third degree narrative. “She Lived in a Story” and “Don Quixote” both stories has strong characters that are influenced by other stories that are around them.The characters Samperio and Quixote both were living in a fantasy world with imaganations. Samperio wrote a book about another woman’s life which means he had a great imaganation. Quixote also had a great imaganations because he read alot of novels and enjoyed them so much, he started living in those fantasies. The texts were different because Samperio had no flat or round character because in that story there was no side kick or a developing character. As for Don Quixote there was flat and round characters because there was a side kick and a developing character. “She Lived in a Story” is more confusing than “Don Quixote” because of the narrator that creates the story within the story. While “Don Quixote” is more simple with the narrator telling one story.

Work Cited

Jahn, Manfred. “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative.” Poems, Plays, and Prose: A Guide to the Theory of Literary Genres. Cologne: U of Cologne Press, 2002. Web.

De Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel. The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de laMancha. 1605.Trans. John Rutherford. Columbus, MT: Penguin, 2003. Print.

Samperio, Guillermo.  “She Lived in a Story.” New Writing from Mexico. Ed. Reginald Gibbons. Evanston, IL: TriQuarterly Books, Northwestern University: 1992. Print.


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