Özgür’s Posturing

Özgür struck me emphatically as the most stereotypical of The Familiar’s nine narrators. He portrays himself as a noir style detective, complete with “the overcoat, [and] the trilby” (174). Moreover, he constantly references his heroes- crime novelists and jazz musicians- whom he emulates in practically every way “until eventually he no longer resembled a caricature of Marlowe, but if anything Marlowe looked like a caricature of him” (174). Yet it is this strange sense of self-awareness that saves him from becoming a cliché. In his first section in the novel, he ruminates explicitly on whether or not he is simply a posture, never reaching a real conclusion but claiming that he is not thinking of these cultural icons even though they have populated his thoughts for the last couple of pages and reemerge not five lines later after a brief interlude focusing on a mysterious woman, another noir trope. He seems to realize his own unoriginality but is unwilling to create a distinctive identity for himself or fully admit his banality. Given the meta-fictional context of the novel, Danielewski seems to be commenting here on media’s potential to shape our conceptions of the self insofar as people purposefully craft themselves after cultural archetypes. Özgür epitomizes this aspect of mass media and production.

Has anyone else noticed any instances of purposeful identity construction in the other narratives?

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One response to “Özgür’s Posturing”

  1. JDS17 says :

    In a similar way, I see the meta-fictional accounts within the jingjing narrative “palace above the day” as a construction of identity in a way that seemingly breaks the narrative structure. The reader, at least the reader who is not familiar with Singlish, is isolated from much of the language within the narrative.

    Yet, it is not only the reader that can feel alienated from the unfamiliar language as Zhong is shown to have trouble with Cantonese (282). Zhong’s trouble with a language unfamiliar to him mirrors the alienation of the reader and seems to show a self-awareness of both character and narration within the story. Zhong becomes a sympathetic character is this narration as he, like the reader, is lost in a conversation which he cannot translate.

    Zhong, by openly showing his own confusion, creates a character that is acting both within and outside of the narrative. The reader can essentially transpose himself/herself into Zhong’s character of the uninformed bystander needing translation.

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