1. Is there an omniscient narrator in the text? What effect does the narrative technique in this text achieve?
The text has an omniscient narrator that adds infinite awareness to the entire story. The effect of this narrative technique is that all aspects of the story are covered, a mysterious touch is added to the entire scenario and the reader feels as if there is an invisible story-teller in the background, who is the only one with proper knowledge of the truth.
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2. What is Akutagawa’s comment on facts and truth? If truth is not inherent in the testimony and the final reference (i.e. what in fact happened) is rendered opaque, is the story about a different kind of truth?
The truth is not inherent in the entire story and the writer is portraying a different kind of truth. The story portrays truth to be what we believe it to be. It shows how each witness uses the power of words and influences to render the own version of the truth.
3. With reference to the note on suspense, in what ways does “In a Grove” reflect the classic Western mode of suspense or detective fiction, and in what ways does it depart from the Western mode?
The story covers the Western mode of detective fiction by narrating testimonies of the witnesses and others in story. It gives a first person perspective of each witness and person involved in the crime. It also gives detailed information about the thoughts of each witness during that time. The mode of suspense comes in, when the reader is given several different aspects of the crime.
4. Are you aware that you are being persuaded of a certain version of truth (not the final truth, since that is unavailable) in each testimony? Give examples of how language/rhetoric is a powerful form of persuasion.
Yes, the writer tries to lure our brains into generating a different version of the truth. The writer has cleverly written every witness’s testimony with a convincing edge to each story, which makes us believe that the character is telling the truth. Another noteworthy thing is that with each witness’s narrative, more facts are revealed, which render the last witness’s testimony as false and untruthful.
5. Discuss Borges’ comment; give examples of “horror,” “extravagance,” and a “crystal clear” style.
The term ‘horror’ refers to more than just a state of fear in this context. It refers to an uneasy feeling of realization that hits the reader with the passage of each segment. Extravagance refers to the excessive use of details and crystal clear refers to the versions of truth presented to us in each witness’s testimony and how each version seems to be extremely transparent till more facts are revealed.
6. Discuss Akutagawa’s use of history (or a historical context) in fiction.
Akutagwa cleverly used historical context in his story and at the same time, added many details and gave each character a distinct personality. It makes a reader believe that the story is not a fiction but a genuine tale.
7. Why is the story called In a Grove?
The title of the story has dual meanings. The first is the obvious meaning for choosing the title, because the body was found in a grove and the entire crime took place in a grove. In a broader sense, the story is titled in this way, because it leaves the reader in a ‘grove-like’ situation where the truth stays hidden and ambiguous, right till the end.
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