25 June 2011
Characteristic Transition: In Vega’s The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle
Often times when reading a good book, a reader comes across the path of character traits that have been characterized best as flat and round characters by Manfred Jahn. In “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative,” Jahn, states that a flat character is “A one-dimensional figure characterized by a very restricted range of speech and action patterns. A flat character does not develop in the course of the action and can often be reduced to a type or even a caricature (e.g., “a typical Cockney housewife”, “a bureaucrat” etc.). Flat characters are often used for comic effect” (N7.7). He defines a round character as “A three-dimensional figure characterized by many, often conflicting, properties. A round character tends to develop in the course of the action and is not reducible to a type” (N7.7). In The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle, by Edgardo Vega Yunqué we see a transition of Maruquita’s character from a flat character to that of a round character. In the quote below we are given a conversation between Maruquita and her mother about the change in Maruquita.
“Who are you?” she finally said. “Did SBS do some more Star Trek magic and put Mr. Spock’s brain inside you? And you cut your hair, aren’t wearing makeup, and took off your earrings. Are you an extraterrestrial who has taken over my daughter’s body?”
“No, nothing like that has taken place,” Maruquita replied. “I’ve simply taken matters into my own hands. I got tired of playing the P.R. homegirl bozo, and I’m ready to assume my rightful role in the development of our people.”
“But you’re so different,” Flaquita said, her voice at once tremulous and awed by her daughter by her daughter. “You seem so bright, so articulate, so self-assured.”
“I figured it out Mom.” Maruquita said.
“Figured what out?”
“It’s quiet simple.”
“Maybe for you.”
“It’s like this. I can change into a monkey or a squirrel and even a peacock of imposing presence and beauty, a presence that represents power and esthetic pleasure. If I can change into such representations, I can change in to anything.” ( Edgardo Vega Yunque 322)
At the start of the book when we are introduced to Maurquita’s character she seems to be this very simple, easy-going, and restricted character. She is shown as like a sidekick to Omaha. She isn’t given much of recognition or respect. She has a limited role in the story. The main character seems to be Omaha. When he goes on to cheat on her and makes her into a fool, Maurquita’s character is shown as this powerless person. She isn’t able to stop him from all his wrong doings. Throughout the book she is portrayed as an uneducated, foolish girl, who has no purpose in life. The characters of other females are thrown in the story as a taunt. The other females are all described as educated and hardworking individuals. Maurquita’s character even becomes highly jealous of the character of Winnifred, who Omaha loves. Towards the end of the book we see a change in Maurquita. She changes her appearance as well as her education level. She has the power to change into anything and that’s what she does. She transforms into an educated young women. She becomes more mature, changes her look to a more motherly look. She uses her powers to take revenge on Omaha. We see this change in Maurquita’s character because she gives up trying to break Winnifred and Omaha’s relationship. Her character transforms and develops a power that she didn’t have at the beginning of the novel. She is more confident about herself and that is what makes a round character, someone who develops as a character.
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.