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The Night Face Up
Transcript of The Night Face Up
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The Night Face Up
Point of View
We will be looking at the story from 3 major viewpoints.
Which one is the dream?
The Night Face Up
, Julio Cortazar led the reader to believe that the narrator lived in the modern world and proceeded to end the short story with a revelation that the modern world was actually the dream.
The Night Face Up
is rather ambiguous since it is possible for both settings, the modern world and Aztec world, to be the protagonist’s material world.
Contrast is an integral part of The Night Face Up as it is implemented with the use of several literary elements to strengthen the theme of dream vs. reality and civilization vs. savagery. It is achieved with the use of two settings, the first being in the modern world and the second in the Aztec world, which are alternated throughout the story.
Dreams Deal with Traumatic Experiences
Carl Jung's theory states that dreams allow individuals to understand and express their true feelings and offer solutions to problems that exist in the person's waking life. The protagonist's dream mirrors his accident and its consequences, supporting this interpretation of the story.
"The historical time and place and the social circumstances that create the world in which the characters act"
includes the city (the ambulance and the street where the accident took place) & the hospital (the hospital ward which had several beds and the room in which his X-ray was taken)
city is modern and civilized - motorcycles, street lights, cars
world is neat, organized, simple, pleasant and calm
predictable - a specific procedure is followed after the accident; hospital has a predictable routine
sunny “sun filtered through the tall downtown buildings”
friendly and safe atmosphere shown by paramedics, doctors, man next to him in the hospital
“encouraged him cheerfully with jokes and assurances”
“A violet lamp kept watch high on the far wall like a guardian eye.”
accident makes him go into shock, resulting in him having difficulty focusing and paying attention to every detail
no details that point towards a specific culture or country (foreshadows the ending)
includes the temple and the jungle
"war of the blossom" is taking place
flower wars were ritual battles to capture prisoners to sacrifice at a temple
the Aztec gods saw humans as flowers to be uprooted
had already been occurring for 3 days and nights
hunt would continue until ended by a priest
the number of victims was not significant
members of other cities / communities were targeted by these hunters
NOTE: the flower wars were ended by the Spanish when they discovered the Aztecs
takes place at night in a forest
runs from the Moteca warriors dressed in traditional clothing
once again the protagonist notices several smells: "marshy smell" "fresh composite fragrance" & "smell of war"
dark and full of fear
world is described in vivid detail
disorganized and chaotic
About the Author
Julio Cortazar was born in Brussels in 1914 and shortly after the Argentina War he moved to Argentina. However, in 1951 he moved to Paris and did not return to Argentina after many years as he was exiled for his political views. Once the ban lifted he visited his home country many times. His background may have influenced the theme of civilization vs. savagery and the contrast between a modern world and a less developed Aztec world in The Night Face Up. Julio Cortazar’s stories were innovative for their time, borrowing elements from the Surrealism movement. He passed away in 1984 at the age of 69 and celebrated as one of Latin America’s greatest writers.
Round Character: The Protagonist
round character: fully developed and encounters conflict
the protagonist is a complex character with many emotions and thoughts
author focuses more on the protagonist's actions, thoughts and dreams than on specific personality traits
he begins the story carefree and ends up struggling to survive and accept what has happened
faces person vs. group conflict and person vs. self conflict
namelessness creates suspense as it prohibits connecting him to one specific world
minor characters who do not undergo substantial change or growth
girl who is hit by the motorcycle
patient next to him in the hospital
X ray technician
The narrator introduces the setting and the protagonist goes for a motorcycle ride
He hits the woman in the crosswalk and is taken from the accident by paramedics
While at the hospital, he begins dreaming about the Aztec world where he is running from warriors whose goal is to capture him
These warriors steal his protective amulet and he is captured
He begins to heal at the hospital and drinks water
He drifts in between the two worlds
Each time he leaves the Aztec world, suspense is created through cliffhangers
The protagonist has been taken prisoner and starts to stop fighting, give up and accept his fate as he is taken into the sacrificial chamber
"strained until the pain became unbearable and he had to give up"
"he was screaming because he was alive, his whole body with that cry fended off what was coming, the inevitable end"
this is reflected in his failures in the hospital
" he made one last effort, he sketched a gesture toward the bottle of water with his good hand and he did not massage to reach it, his fingers closed again on a black emptiness"
"with a last hope he shut his lids tightly, moaning to wake up"
the protagonist accepts that he will die
he comes to the conclusion that the Aztec world is reality and that the hospital was a dream
he can no longer make sense of what happened in the hospital
"green and red lights that burned without fire or smoke, on an enormous metal insect that whirred away between his legs"
person vs. group - the protagonist is trying to escape from the warriors who want to capture and sacrifice him
person vs. self - he struggles with guilt after he hits the woman with his motorcycle
person vs. self - he struggles with his identity as he attempts to determine which world is the dream world
central meaning or dominant idea
Diction choice and writing style created a very orderly and pleasant impression of the city.
“He lets the ministries zip past (the pink, the white), and a series of stores on the main street.”
Even when he falls off his motorcycle, the author still maintains the pleasant atmosphere and tone of the city by describing the bystanders are amiable
“Voices which did not seem to belong to the faces hanging above him encourage him cheerfully with jokes and assurances”
The modern world represents order, civilization, safety and goodness.
In comparison to the modern world, the diction creates a disorganized image of the Aztec world.
The Aztec world is described as being savage, wild and violent.
This world is also described in vivid detail with constant reference to the smell of the world which is very unusual as the man states that he has never dreamt smells.
This world is full of fear, darkness and death, and it is the opposite of the modern world.
Dreams Deal with Traumatic Experiences
Symbols and Other Literary Devices
parallel events / objects
imagery: vivid descriptions of the Aztec world and contrasting colours used for the different worlds (white for hospital, black & red for Aztec world)
diction used to emphasize contrast
atmosphere / mood is created in both worlds
hyperbole: everything is slightly exaggerated or heightened in the Aztec world
irony: the ending is ironic because it contradicts the idea that the Aztec world was the dream and the hospital was reality
juxtaposition: overlapping or mixing of opposite or different situations; this is used to heighten contrast and moods
extended metaphor: can be used for the interpretation that the dream is being used to deal with traumatic events
foreshadowing: way in which the hospital is described hints at the ending
protagonist states that he is in shock after the accident, proving that it had a significant impact on him
"he tried to fix the moment of the accident exactly, and it got him very angry to notice that there was a void there, an emptiness he could not manage to fill"
originally recognizes the Aztec world as a dream
"but he didn't want to go on thinking about the nightmare"
his plan in the Aztec world is to hide and run from his problems
pain from the accident doesn't exist in the Aztec world
the Aztec world is dark and fearful, which could represent his negative emotions and his fear that he caused the accident (he sees himself as a killer)
both worlds have several parallel images (stone slab & hospital bed, Aztec torches & hospital lights, amulet & water, stone knife & needle / surgery)
"in the infinite lie of the dream, they had also picked him up off the ground, someone had approached him also with a knife in his hand, approached him who was lying face up, face up with his eyes closed between the bonfires on the steps"
If the Aztec World is the Dream ....
If the Original World is the Dream ...
the hospital is like a sanctuary for him
it is safe and comfortable
he is able to escape the idea that he will most likely die
he creates a world where he is in an unfamiliar environment because of an injury, not because he is being chased away from his home and hunted down
So Which One is the Dream?
Evidence that the Hospital is Real
- Dreams do not have smells but the protagonist observed a:
• “hospital smell” (Pg. 266)
- “A young intern arrived with some metal and leather apparatus”
• He is not familiar with medical apparatus and could not have dreamt about something he has never seen (Wenk, 2011)
- During slow wave sleep (SWS), you dream of events that are occurring really quickly and can involve older memories that are full of emotions (Wenk, 2011)
• Events in the Aztec world were occurring fairly quickly and he was full of fear (he was running from the Aztecs, he lost the trail, touches the amulet and mutters a supplication prayer, gets captured by the Aztecs, discovers that the amulet is missing, he was lifted and taken to the executioner priest with the stone knife)
- Slow wave sleep is one of the first stages of the sleep cycle, during non-REM sleep (Roth, 2009)
• The images of the Aztec world would appear soon after the protagonist felt drowsy
• Right after the administration of anesthesia, prior to the surgery
• After drinking the broth, he let himself “drift off”
• “Now sleep began to take over again…the violet light was beginning to get dimmer”
• “It was difficult to keep his eyes open, the drowsiness was more powerful than he”
Evidence that the Aztec World is Real
- “He detached himself almost physically from the final scene of the nightmare” (Pg. 267)
- “It was unusual as a dream because it was full of smells” (Pg. 266)
• “marshy smell” (Pg.266)
• “fresh composite fragrance” (Pg. 267)
• “smell of war” (Pg. 267)
- “He felt thirsty, as though he’d been running for miles” (Pg. 268)
• He was running in the Aztec world, which may have brought about this thirst
- After waking up from a dream, the pain that was felt in the dream immediately subsides (The Neurocritic, 2011)
• Ex. Getting beat up in your dream, but waking up without any pain
• He hurt his knee in the motorcycle accident but did not perceive the pain while he was running through the forest in the Aztec world
- The protagonist is a round character who changes after being a fugitive and prisoner
• He progressed in the same way that we do in our lives
• At first, he was running away from death because he was scared
• At the end, he “was lying face up,” before death itself (Pg. 272)
- He seemed to well-versed on all of the customs of the Moteca, as well as the forest trails and the supplication prayer
Evidence that Both Are Dreams
• The tone of the story varies with the setting
• While in the modern world the tone is safe, comforting and pleasant
o This is achieved by using words with positive connotations
• In the Aztec world the tone conveys the character’s fear as he is running from danger
o It is the opposite of what is happening in the modern world
• The tone enhances the contrast between the modern world, representing civilization, and the Aztec world, representing violence and savagery
• The tone and the imagery it creates are more vivid in the Aztec world leading to the protagonist’s conclusion that the Aztec world is in fact reality
- Third-person point of view
• The effect of an imaginary person explaining the occurrences in the protagonist’s life
• The protagonist could be the narrator of the story and it is possible that he is looking at himself in a dream (similar to inception: a dream inside a dream)
- Selective omniscient narrator
• The author enters the protagonist’s mind and describes his feelings
• “To be afraid was nothing strange, there was plenty of fear in his dreams” (Pg. 267)
• He was scared to hit the woman with his motorcycle & was scared to be taken as a scapegoat by the Aztecs
Thanks for watching :)
based on Carl Jung's theory
“Persona” : person you are in your waking life thought of as being a mask
“Self” : person you appear to be in your dream world may appear different but you still know it’s you
“Shadow” : antagonist in the dream represents the parts of yourself that you dislike
The Night Face Up
is written in third person point of view (non-participant point of view)
• The author also uses employs a selective omniscient narrator who can only enter the mind of the main character
• This point of view is effective in conveying the message/ theme of the story as the reader knows what is happening in the surrounding environment as well as the thoughts of the main character
Echoes 12 Textbook