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Narrative Structure in Maestro Essay


How does the narrative structure of Maestro enhance the readers understanding of the text?

In Peter Goldsworthys self-reflexive narrative, Maestro, there is clear link between the structure of the text and a musical piece. It is episodic with different movements, akin to an extended piece of music, and the length of each section gets shorter and shorter as the text progresses. Also, throughout the novel we see changes from the narrative voice, with it being a younger Paul Crabbe, an adult version or the narrator Paul himself. These instances, along with the common themes such as contrasts and parallels, give the reader a much greater insight and a more elevated understanding of the text.

The entire text of Maestro is based around a 10 year period, from 1967 to 1977. The one common invariable throughout this time is the existence of Keller in Pauls life. The text is fabricated in this fashion as Paul feels as though this was the most important time of his life. Paul speaks in retrospect about his love for Keller, and his regret for the way he treated him. This gives the reader a much greater knowledge of Pauls character as an adult, and the remorse that his life was filled with. Also, his feelings of disappointment about his past are encapsulated in the final montage of the text; speaking in recollection he describes his life as foolish, innocent and full of delusion.

On a number of occasions in the novel, Goldsworthy draws comparisons and commonalities between Paul and a younger version of Keller. This technique of forming parallels between characters or settings becomes an essential part of the text. On the other hand, depicting contrasts between certain areas of the text also develops into a prevalent theme. This is highlighted when Rosie Zollo Pauls future wife and mother to his child - begins to attend school with Paul, and he immediately says I disliked her for the usual reason; she was too much like me. This use of these parallels and contrasts between Paul and other characters gives the reader a much more concise perception of Paul, and his attitudes towards others.

There are many instances in the novel where the older, retrospective Paul steps in and begins to input his feelings as an adult, about a particular moment. This may be to make a judgment on his past actions, or to express his recent realisations about the mistakes or triumphs he once made. In any case, this provides the narrative with a nostalgic tone, as Paul feels as though he has to often explain the misjudgments of his childhood. This technique helps the reader grasp a deeper understanding of Pauls feelings of affliction, especially towards Keller, and it outlines the changes in his attitude from a teenager, compared to as an adult.

The main symbolic topic that runs through the novel is the use of music, and musical analogy to represent relationships and the significance of events and themes. Each short moment of time in the novel, is ended by a diamond and line denoting a change of scene, time or central idea. And also, the entire structure of the narrative is intermittent, with different waves and movements, similar to that of an extended piece of music. Although this is quite concealed by Goldsworthy, it has an indirect effect on the reader as it ensures the settings are well understood, and the reader can create meaning in the scene and connect it to the important themes of the text. Therefore, this lucid structuring is essential to the readers overall interpretations of the text.

Goldsworthys adopted structure reflects the key concerns of the text; A personal journey of self-discovery, through the use of music and relationships. The techniques that he uses, and the common themes of contrasts and parallels, allow the reader to gain a much more enhanced insight into these concerns. And also, the framework that he uses for the narrative becomes imperative for the reader, as this greatly compliments their understanding of the text.

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