The Long Voyage

In his narrative, Jorge Semprun often switches from external to internal setting. Such tool plays an outstanding role in the plot presentation. For instance, it gives a chance for the author to compare and contrast general information and specific details, outlook and internal state of things, image and feelings, etc.

In addition, Semprun tries to show the interdependence of the global things and some particular notions. Indeed, showing that a person is just a small detail in the enormous system of the world, the author later transfers to the inner world of one individual, showing that it can be as great as a separate Universe.

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While it may seem from the first sight that the rapid changes of setting from internal to external add needless complications in the narrative, each of them conveys a special message. In fact, the nature of human consciousness suggests that people think with images, and their order is never chronologically or logically organized.

Thus, Semprun tried to express the stream of those images in his narrative, showing the importance of every thought, emotion, feeling, or vision. What is more, the readers tend to focus on some impressive moments of the plot; in contrast, reading Semprun’s book keeps a reader in constant tension, as the general switches to the very specific and back. By these means, the author teaches us to think globally.

The mentioned tool also serves as a intensifier of author’s testimony. As an example, in one of the episodes Semprun first describes the setting outside the boxcar, then switches to the inside, describing how many people are there; next, the author tells how unbearably it is to be one of them, and finally describes the pain in his knee.

Such development of descriptions from general to specific allows the author analyze every level of the reality, showing the inconveniences, pain and fear on each of them. This method is often applied in the book.

The reflections of the inside and outside change the traditional positions of both the writer and the reader. In some cases, the writer seems to discover the development of plot together with the reader. Indeed, in some scenes the author builds the narration in a way that shows his uncertainty in the situation, and the change of external and internal seems to help the narrator to find the solution.

In other cases, the author seems to be watching the situation on the neutral situation, just like the described events are not happening to him. He also uses statements, which were apparently made by him, but which are familiar to everyone who might read them: “What carries the most weight in your life are the people you’ve known” (Semprun, 29).

This makes the reader and the writer much closer than in traditional setting. When the author tells about the experience of fifteen years, the reader gets the feeling of being of the same age with author. Apparently, such effect is due to proper use of the mentioned tools.

The relationship between inside and outside in the narration reflect various important notions. For instance, the notion of survival is presented in the contrast: in the most strict conditions people can be filled with desire to live, and this helps them to survive; on the other hand, even when a human has freedom, their inner world not always survives.

This can be supported by the example of the German woman who was released: her both children were dead, and her own survival therefore was of no value to her. Similarly, the author presents the notion of return. Having told about his will to return, he turns back to the global understanding of what is happening, and assumes that “perhaps one cant take this voyage back in the opposite direction” (Semprun, 23).

All in all, switching of the inner and outer is an effective tool used in the narration. In addition, it can be viewed as the author’s personal philosophy of world perception.


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