In his work, “She Lived in a Story,” Guillermo Samperio utilizes the technique of hypothetical focalization. The literary meaning of the term is, “Hypothetical focalization is a representation of narrative events or existents as they might have been perceived by a hypothetical observer or virtual spectator” (Jahn N3.2.5). This occurs when the story conveys a situation where the character is disturbed by an outside force. Feelings of being watched by an unknown source can be told by either the character or through the narrator’s description. In “She Lived in a Story,” Ofelia experiences moments of hypothetical focalization when she too feels that she is under surveillance. The narrator relays, “She knows that a multitude of eyes are out there in the dark, moving to the rhythm that she establishes; lots of eyes, a great concealed eye, a giant eye fixed on her body”(58). This quote embodies hypothetical focalization because Ofelia feels that she is being watched by a hypothetical character. She believes that she is being watched by not just one eye but many eyes, eyes that follow her every move, eyes that are affecting her state of being. Ofelia attempts to fight off the staring eyes by making herself believe that the state of eerie atmosphere she’s currently in is just representative of a past memory or flashback of something that occurred in her life. Feeling that her mind may be playing tricks on her, Ofelia proceeds to try to get the insecure feeling of being watched out of her by shaking it out of her head. When all of her attempts to withdraw herself from the stare have failed, she realizes that she can’t fight it. Ofelia now becomes aware of the influence of the hypothetical focalization that is occurring in her and although she doesn’t quite understand why she is being watched she attempts to express the new feeling by succumbing to the force. Ofelia’s thoughts and actions are now being influenced by the peering eyes. The eyes that Ofelia feels on her ultimately belong to Guillermo Segovia, and as you read on, are not scaring Ofelia. She knows that she is being watched by someone and that that someone is controlling her but she doesn’t feel threatened by being watched by this stranger. This observer spying over Ofelia ultimately compels her to write about his strong gaze and hold over her.
In “She Lived in a Story” written by Guillermo Samperio, the focalizer within the overall story changes within each corresponding story, starting from the external narrator’s point of view of Guillermo Segovia expressed by Samperio, and moves into several internal focalizations of Segovia himself. The story then shifts to Segovia’s heterodiegetic narration of Ofelia’s story, where Ofelia communicates her homodiegetic thoughts within his story. In Ofelia’s connecting story, she becomes both the internal and external focalizer that ties all the stories together. “She Lived in a Story” contains variable focalizers. A focalizer means the point of view in which the story is told, the person who is telling the story. When the story is being told by a narrator it is also called an external or heterodiegetic narrative because the tale is being told by a third party. When the story is told by the characters themselves, it is considered to be an internal or homodiegetic narrative, since it is coming from a first party view. As I have previously expressed, “She Lived in a Story” has variable focalizers, meaning that the story is told through many different focalizers, where the story takes on the point of views of Samperio, Segovia, and Ofelia and they all take turns saying their stories. An example of an internal focalization is when Ofelia says, “I’m inside the gaze. I’m living inside a stare. I’m part of a way of seeing. Something forces me to walk; the fog has descended and its murky fingers reach out toward the windows. I’m a silhouette from the past sticking to the walls.” (Samperio 59). This quote is extremely powerful in expressing the state of being that Ofelia is encountering. If this quote was explained through a heterodiegetic narrator, the reader wouldn’t get the same impact from these words. But since Ofelia is the internal focalizer in this section, a reader can immediately connect to what she is feeling from being watched. Ofelia has now realized that she lives in Segovia’s stare and that she is powerless against him. She admits that a force makes her walk, and she has no choice but to surrender to its control. With Ofelia’s awakening, the fog that has descended and leaves out of the window is her confusion being solved, and the audience can understand her journey of discovery through her own point of view. She personally expresses that she now feels like a silhouette, an empty entity that she has no control over. Her body, her being was created by Segovia and she is just a puppet in his and her own story, in her life. She is stuck in his creation and knows that her life has been a façade. By accepting her fate she understands her role in this story, the role she was created to play. After her awakening, she submits to Sagovia’s control and the rest of her actions in his story are calculated. Ofelia realizes that she can’t retreat from her creator’s plan and allows Segovia to simply write her effortless actions. Ofelia takes this new experience and turns it around when she writes her own version of the story that is happening to her, and although she is still a character that Segovia created, she controls her final fate by writing it herself.
Jahn, Manfred. “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative.” 28 May 2005. Web. 10 June
Samperio, Guillermo. “She Lived in a Story.” Ed. Reginald Gibbons. Triquarterly: New Writing
From Mexico 1992: 54-62. Print.