In her article “A Rhetoric and Ethics of Character Narration in Ian McEwan’s Nutshell” Yili Tang analyzes the narrative rhetoric and ethics of Ian McEwan’s novel Nutshell usingJames Phelan’s rhetorical theory of character narration.Applying the principle that character narration is an art of indirection, she attempts to decode the rhetorical dynamics of the novel. These dynamics entail an apprehension of the complex relationships between the functions of the narrator, a fetus, facing his narratee, and the implied author facing his audience. Furthermore,she traces the ethical consequences that are elucidated by the chosen narrative technique and the delineation of the character narrator.She argues that McEwan makes the best of the challenges posed by the character narrator’s limited perspective and effectively conveys the story from the viewpoint of an unborn child, whose perspective, despite its restrictions, remains within a realistic communicative frame, in an indirect way. Indirection allows the authorial audience to follow McEwan’s suggestions regarding the fetus’s physical and emotional obstacles. The respect for life and love for others spur the fetus to see goodness in human nature, and perhaps ultimately allow him to reach ethical enlightenment.
Tang, Yi Li.
"A Rhetoric and Ethics of Character Narration in Ian McEwan’s Nutshell."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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