27 June 2011
Surrendering to Epiphanies: Omaha and Don Quixote’s Revelations Crafted by Their Masters
Throughout the book, The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle, written by Edgardo Vega Yunqué, many epiphanies are exposed to the characters as well as to the reader themselves. In “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative,” Manfred Jahn explains the epiphany narrative as indicating a moment where a character receives or expresses clarity or insight. Jahn further states that an epiphany is, “closely related to what other authors variously term ‘moment of vision’ (Conrad, Woolf), ‘moment of being’ (Woolf, again), or ‘glimpse’ (Mansfield)” (Jahn 3.3.10). Omaha gets his first moment of vision when speaking to Mr. Vega, “Oh, right. So it’s a book and you’re writing it and it doesn’t matter what I’ll be saying because everybody understands everybody else no matter what they’re speaking, right?” (Vega 90). Omaha’s epiphany occurs when Maruquita calls Mr. Vega, the author, to tell him that Omaha is not cooperating with the “bohango” ceremony. Simultaneously, the reader also realizes the epiphany that the story Vega is creating has more layers of depth than what the initial story is actually presenting. Omaha now understands that no matter what his character does, the story is already written for him, that he is just an actor in this tale that is being controlled by the author. He now knows that no matter how his character of Omaha personally feels about his insecurity of the size of his penis, or the lack of Spanish he speaks, the people in the book are all on the same page and understand him because Vega wrote it that way. I think this tactic is brilliant because Vega shows both the characters in the play as well as the readers that his first main story of Maruquita and Omaha are mere fiction, but when he brings this epiphany to light when he addresses the characters personally, he then incorporates reality into his fictional story. Vega portrays the trivialness of his characters being controlled in the story and as he shows them as real people stepping out of the fictional story, he is now able to relay it to true historical facts, as if in the end we are all characters in a book being controlled by a larger power, and as Vega would say, the government. Everyone involved in or with this book can take two sides of the overall meaning of its fictional message as well as its realistic message, attaining a dual perception of the overall story. Vega also creates a dual life for his characters and allows his audience to see how it is for his characters to play different roles within his book. With this narrative epiphany I also believe that it gives Vega a large window of light-heartedness while discussing extreme sexual topics without simply focusing on the characters’ sexual exploits.
In The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, by Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote finally surrenders to his last epiphany on his death bed. In “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative,” Jahn presents the narrative style of alteration which demonstrates where the story plot switches to an unexpected revelation. Jahn describes alteration as, “a shift into a mode of presentation which does not conform to the standard expectations associated with the current narrative situation” (Jahn 3.3.15). Don Quixote retracts his previous belief:
You must congratulate me, my good sirs, because I am no longer Don Quixote de la Mancha but Alonso Quixano, for whom my way of life earned me the nickname of ‘the Good’. I am now the enemy of Amadis of Gaul and the whole infinite horde of his descendants; now all those profane histories of knight-errantry are odious to me; now I acknowledge my folly and the peril in which I was placed by reading them; now, by God’s mercy, having at long last learned my lesson, I abominate them all. (Cervantes 977)
Don Quixote has finally altered his conviction that the world of knight-errantry is real. He now firmly admits that the history and books he has read that consumed his mind this entire time are really false and chivalrous. He disbands his entire knowledge and experience of them and has finally awakened from his spell of obliviousness. His epiphany has made him realize how dangerous these books were on his life as he sought out threatening adventures to become a heroic knight. His alteration was unexpected since Don Quixote profusely argued and attempted to prove to everyone that doubted him and his knightly cause that his world of knights and their history was indeed true. He suddenly saw the knight books as deceitful and useless. So why denounce them now? As Don Quixote gets closer to death, he has received a message from God showing him the light and the darkness of his choices, thus receiving his epiphany and alteration from God.
De Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel. The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la
Mancha. 1605. Trans. John Rutherford. Columbus, MT: Penguin, 2003. Print.
Jahn, Manfred. “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative.” 28 May 2005. Web.
24 June 2011. <http://www.uni-koeln.de/~ame02/pppn.htm>.
Vega Yunqué, Edgardo. The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the
Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle. Woodstock, New York: Overlook, 2004. Print.