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The Secret Miracle

The Secret Miracle

by Jorge Luis Borges

Analysis: Narrator Point of View

Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?

Third Person (Limited Omniscient); at times First Person (Peripheral Narrator)

Most of this story is told from a narrative perspective with which we're pretty familiar: the narrator is an uninvolved third party who has a psychic knowledge of everything that Jaromir Hladik is thinking. This guy is able to tell us not only what Jaromir did, but also how he felt about it. In fact, we don't really think about the narrator: he's just some invisible dude in the sky observing everything that happens to Jaromir.

We wonder if Shmoop has an invisible guy in the sky observing everything that happens to us. Hmm, that would be cool. Okay, back to the topic at hand.

Here's the thing: the narrator doesn't always stick to this objective way of telling us the story. In two instances, he just can't resist including a comment that draws attention to his particular perspective:

Instance 1: "That delay (whose importance the reader will soon discover)" (2). Here, he's getting ahead of himself, letting the readers know that he's got a delicious story to tell us.

Instance 2: "[T]he design I have outlined here" (6). Here we get the first person and a reminder that he's in charge.

In both cases, our narrator is letting us know that he's perfectly aware that this is a story that we are reading. In other words, this narrative is aware of its own status as a work of literature. This meta-ness is a major characteristic of postmodernism, which you can learn all about in our discussion of "Genre."

So who is this guy? When is his writing? And how does he know this story? When we stop to consider the narrator's perspective, we start to feel a little bit of vertigo. After all, the thing about the miracle that Jaromir experiences is that it's "secret" – no one else is aware that time has frozen. So how can the narrator know that this happened? We as readers are kind of in a cool, impossible position: like the audience of Jaromir's play, The Enemies, we get to explore a story that takes place entirely within a character's head. Pretty neat stuff.

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