Examine the narrative voice in Allende’s story and identify its characteristics: Why does the narrator use first person plural in some parts of the story? (For example, look at the first and fourth paragraphs). Is the narrator simply a reporter of events? What is the narrator’s relation to Rolf? To what extent does the narrator undergo change? Discuss the impact of the narrative voice on the story.
What is the role of the narrator in our understanding of Rolf? What does the narrator reveal about the journalistic qualities of Rolf at the very beginning of the story and later in the second part of the story? Make a comparison between these and then discuss how such a comparison would help you understand both Rolf and the narrator.
Comment on how Isabel Allende makes use of “television screen” in her story.
What is the function of the “President” in the story?
What is the the trapped girl’s relation to Rolf and to the narrator?
How does the narrator address Rolf in the last paragraph of the story? In what way(s) could this be significant in the story?
What is the significance of the title of the story?
Find some stories of natural disasters in the media and examine reporters’ treatments of such events and the people who suffered in these. Would you consider them sensational? Why? Why not?
Discuss whether reporters should be emotionally involved in their stories as is the case in Allende’s story. How do you believe an emotional involvement might affect a reporter’s journalistic approach?
© Ali Nihat Eken, Istanbul, September 2008
Useful reading: When should photographers drop their cameras?
Video: Isabel Allende