The Objective (or Subjective) Narrator Revisited

While reading She I could not help but be reminded of The Moonstone, especially when considering the narrative style.  The narrator of the introduction, whose name we do not know, refers to himself as the “editor” of the manuscript, which the true narrator, Horace Holly, has sent to him.  This editor claims that he is not making any changes to the original manuscript, only assisting in telling the story the way that Franklin Blake insisted he was, when he received the narrations of the others he asked to contribute to The Moonstone.  He writes, “I have made up my mind to refrain from comments”(14).  However, there are several footnotes from the editor throughout the section that we read.  Most of them seem to be providing some sort of “historical” facts or geographical information about Africa and the ancient Egyptians.  It seems to me that these footnotes are supposed to make the story seem like it is based in historical fact rather than fiction because the editor is, in a way, playing the role of a witness to the information put forth by Mr. Holly.  The editor never interferes in the sections of the novel that are purely the personal account of the adventure.  Perhaps to do so here would instead discredit the story instead because there is no way that the editor could have any knowledge of the details since he barely knew Leo or Mr. Holly.  This would reduce the objectivity of the novel that Mr. Holly is striving for.

On page 13, Mr. Holly says that he is going to tell the story “exactly has it happened” and on page 15, the editor refers to the story as “facts”.  It seems that in She, as in The Moonstone, the narrators claim that they are telling a completely objective story when we know that this is usually never the case.  Mr. Holly refers to himself as “misanthropic” and the editor claims that he is “as much afraid of a woman as most people are of a mad dog”(17, 12).  How can we be expected to believe that a narrator who has such strong feelings against women will objectively tell a story about a woman, like “she-who-must-be-obeyed”, with infinite power and beauty?  On the other hand, Mr. Holly is a professional scholar, so we know that we can trust his interpretations of the ancient greek on the pot that has been passed down through Leo’s ancestors.  This being said, the ancient greek and old English passages are included in the book anyway.  This makes me wonder if contemporary readers of She would have been educated in how to read them, further increasing the feeling that their narrator is objective, or if this is a sign that this book was intended for the upper, intellectual class as a study of a foreign culture.  Throughout the narrative, Mr. Holly focuses attention on the cultural and archeological aspects of the area in which they are brought.  On page 77, he discusses what looks like an amphitheatre and tries to account for its existence, stating that he believes that his conclusion is correct.  Mr. Holly always emphasizes correctness in regards to any fact that might be verified by a scholar.  This I believe is supposed to reassure us that the personal side of the account of the events is accurate as well.  This makes me wonder, are you convinced?

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