Re: RARA-AVIS: Woolrich's "Fright" - 1st vs 3rd person narration

Date: 21 Feb 2008

I agree at times it does seem that although the narrative of FRIGHT consists mostly of "He then went..." "He thought that..." etc. it does often seem like it is Marshall speaking albeit referring to himself in the third person. The story does occasionally, but not very often, shift into full 1st person mode ("I then...") when Marshall is least in control of what is going on around him thus the most afraid.

I also agree Marshall's choices are less than logical but remember his conscience and his sense of self-preservation are in constant conflict.
  In this context, what seems irrational and even illogical often is the only thing that makes any sense. If you view Marshall in this light he isn't quite as dimwitted as he otherwise may appear. Anyway, just my take on it.

Thanks to everyone who has responded to my question. I now have several more titles on my to read list, and I am quite eager to further educate myself on more recent noir literature.

Best, Harry

Quoting Patrick King <>:

> It seemed to me that the first person was used in
> FREIGHT when Marshall was imagining what was happening
> rather than in circumstances that were really
> happening. The scene between Marjorie and her father
> and Marjorie and Lance, for example, did not occur
> independent of Marshall's imagination. I was a little
> confused about the murder at the lake of the man
> Marshall supposed to be Wise. Marshall has to be one
> of the stupidest protagonists I've ever read about.
> The research he did was always dangerous for him and
> always led him to the wrong conclusion, while reading
> newspapers or making a few phone calls would have put
> his mind at ease. As suspenseful as the book is, it's
> equally funny in the way REEFER MADNESS is funny: one
> unfortunate circumstance leads to worse and worse and
> worse, while one logical step taken at any point along
> the way would have completely eliminated the problem.
> Patrick King

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