John Edgar Wideman Writing Styles in What We Cannot Speak About We Must Pass Over in Silence

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Stream of Consciousness

In this story, Wideman uses a stream-of-consciousness and experimental language, both reminiscent of the work of the Irish novelist James Joyce (1882-1941). Stream-of-consciousness presents an interior monologue of the narrator, allowing us to see inside the mind of the character as it associates ideas and moves along in a flow of thoughts. Writing in stream of consciousness allows rapid and apparently unrelated (but in reality, carefully crafted) jumps in focus. This kind of narrative gives no objective information about external events, and readers are forced to rely on and evaluate the narrator's thoughts which may or may not be reliable. It is left up to readers to decide if the narrator's thoughts are aligned with objective reality or delusional. For example, when the story ends, readers may wonder where the son is or whether he even exists.

Word Order and Rhythm

Wideman's experimental use of language...

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This section contains 1,502 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the What We Cannot Speak About We Must Pass Over in Silence Study Guide
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