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The Sea

Farriol Segura, Carlota

Pellicer Bautista, Mar
Narrativa en Angls
21st May 2013


About the Author

The Author's Narrative style

The Sea: Narrative Style

The Sea

The Plot

The Characters

The Setting




To start with our project, it is fair to pinpoint that we are going to analyze several aspects
about the novel but also about The Sea. It is interesting to notice some particular characteristics of
it. For instance, the narrative style, the characters, and so on.

About the Author

To begin with, we are going to explain some characteristics about the author. This Irish
author is W. John Banville. He is the youngest of three siblings. When he was young he intended to
be an architect and a painter, but he could not achieve these jobs owing to the fact that he left the
university. Nowadays he considers the fact of leaving the university as a great mistake. He was born
in 1945. Therefore, his writings should be included in the field of postmodernism. Postmodernism
is concept in arts which follows modernism period and it is characterized by the self-conscious use
of earlier styles and the mixture of several artistic styles. Another important characteristic would be

that despite the fact that his real name is William John Banville, he tends to use other names while
he writes. These names are Benjamin Black and John Banville; thus, both names are referred to
him. Focusing on the prizes he has won throughout his career, it is fair to highlight that there are
many, not only for his greatest novel The Sea, but also the others.

The Author's Narrative Style

As far as his narrative style is concerned, we should say that he is considered a master stylist
by critics. His narratives are usually enigmatic and ambiguous, reflecting his belief that reality
cannot be accurately mirrored by the conventional realistic novel. Banville makes use extensive use
of metaphors, literary allusions, and elements from various genres to create complex aesthetic
effects. His prose style is described as prose, precise and forensic, analyzing each aspect of the
reality he is putting into words.

The Sea: Narrative Style

In concrete, the narrative style of The Sea has some interesting characteristics; to start with,
it is to be said that the novel feels like a reflective journal, as it is written in first person. Stream of
consciousness can be spotted throughout the novel; in some passages in which Max, the main
character, is talking about a subject and out of the blue he appears furious thinking about his wife
Anna. An example is when he is talking about elephants he has seen on TV, and in the following
paragraph he says You cunt, you fucking cunt, how could you go and leave me like this... This
clearly illustrates the fact that he is not following a rational lineal discourse.
The Sea is written in colloquial English and has a lot of descriptions and adjectives, which enrich
the text. The sentence structures are not complex, although it is difficult sometimes to follow Max's
line of thought.
The novel does not have a lineal structures, as it goes back an forth from his last years with Anna,
his present in Ballyless with his daughter's visits, and his childhood in the same town, with all his
There are two techniques that could be united in one group since the usage of them enriches the
whole novel completely, giving the novel a flavor of feelings and emotions. The techniques are
called melodrama and pathos. These techniques consist of the use of sentimentality to provoke an
audience response, to be more precise, they have to do with the evocation of a high emotion,
normally compassion and sorrow. We can say that these techniques can be found throughout the
book. In order to exemplify what we have been said we are going to provide you an example. This

example is the end of the book, which consists of the narrator explaining the reader that his wife
dies alone, when Max is in the sea. When he is swimming he feels a strange feeling and when he is
called in order to be communicated the death of his wife, he feels the sensation of being taken by
the waves of the sea.

The Sea
Going deeper into his most famous novel, which is called, The Sea, we should mention that
it has won several prizes. For instance, the most important one is the Booker prize in 2005. There
are also visual productions about the content of this book, for example, films. We have been
pondering on a possible relation among the novel itself and the title, and we arrived to the
conclusion that, for instance, the end can be related to the title, because, when the protagonist
receives the news of the death of his wife, he feels the same sensation of being taken by the waves
of the sea.

The Plot
As regards the plot, The Sea is narrated by Max Morden, who has recently been widowed.
He has come to a seaside resort where he had spent the summer holidays with his parents when he
was a child. He is grieving for his wife Anna, and he is dealing with the pain of having watched a
loved one waste away and die, and of surviving, and of the difficulty of having to go on, alone.
The main themes are love, loss, memory and grief. Max's daughter accuses him of living in
the past, to which he answers The past beats inside me like a second heart. He is aware that he
live of his past, he is so attached to it and its memories that he is living again where he spent his
childhood. Those memories and the ones he has from Anna, his wife, and her death keep him from
moving on.

The Characters
Moving to the field of the characters, we can notice that there are a huge variety of
characters, which some of them are considered main characters and the others are considered
secondary characters. Some of the secondary characters would be Chloe, that is their daughter,
Connie, Myles and so on and so forth. But we are going o focus our attention on the most relevant
characters, that are Max Morden and his wife. Max is a widower man. He is lamenting her wife's
death during almost the whole novel, explaining us some events he spent with her and telling the
readers his memories. Referring to Anna, she is an important character because she is constantly
present throughout the whole book despite the fact that she is dead. Having analyzed this last

character, it is fair to emphasize that she can be considered as a strong woman since the calm and
sensible way she reacts in many situations. For example, there is a clear evidence in one event of
what we have said, both protagonists are in the doctor, in order to know the results of her
diagnostic, and the doctor, in a very rude way says to her that she is going to die and she is truly ill.
Actually, the normal relation would have been to be altered, but instead of that, Anna keeps calm,
and just accepts the news and the way they have being said.

The Setting
Regarding the setting, the novel takes place in Ballyless, to be more specific in a kind of
cottage, called The Cedars

Having studied this author, we realized about some curiosities. In particular, as a curiosity,
we should say that some critics argue that The Sea is lacking in plot, and reads more as hypersensitive inner monologue. We do not agree with the statement, but as it is a large number of critics
who made it, we thought it to be interesting, how for some minds the novel is a kind of mental
monologue, in which nothing happens, as it is all in Max's mind.
Another curiosity is the fact that Banville invented a word, Avrilaceous, an adjective to describe his
own freckles; he goes on about it for a page, which we understood as a sign of a great imagination
behind the pages.

We have been pondering on something (a book or a film) to be compared to our novel, and
eventually, we decided to compare it with the film Seven Pounds. There are some similarities, but
also they have many differences between them. We are going to focus our attention on the aspects
that can be related. The first one has to do with the narrator, both (film and The Sea), are narrated in
the first person, therefore, by the protagonist. And the other similarity is that in the book, the man is
thinking about her wife, remembering moments with her, and in the film, which it is relevant to say
that takes place in another context, the protagonist, Will Smith, is lamenting for the death of his
wife too. From the beginning of the film until the end.


As a conclusion, it is to be said that The Sea is not an easy novel to read, it requires a lot of
attention and an effort to keep up with Max. The jumps between present, his past with Anna, and his
childhood - along with the present with his daughter - are sometimes misleading but it is, all in all,
a very well written and interesting novel.
There are moments in which the novel feels like a meditation on loss and death, and that the story
itself advances to no seeming purpose, but the author manages to twist around place and identity,
finally creating a real and moving novel about human condition.