I am Lost, Sara. I am Lost
Jesse Bull '05, English 171, Sages, Satirists, and New Journalists Brown University, 2003
Sara Suleri's text does not lie outside of her life. She recognizes (at least parenthetically) that the story she writes will affect those who read it. In a sense, it becomes a character unto itself, an agent that complicates Suleri's own process of story-telling and must be constantly conscious of its own organization and content.
So, worn by repetition, we stood by Ifat's grave, and took note of the narcissi, still alive, that she must have placed upon my mother on the day that she was killed. It made us impatient, in a way, as though we had to decide that there was nothing so farcical as grief and that it had to be eliminated from our diets for good...Our congregation in Lahore was brief, and then we swiftly returned to a more geographic reality. "We are lost, Sara," Shahid said to me on the phone from England. "Yes, Shahid," I firmly said, "We're lost." [pp. 18-19]
Henceforth we met in gentler times. (For in this story, Ifat will not die before our eyes: it could not be countenanced. How could I tell Shahid's story and let Ifat die before his eyes? Have I nothing in me, then, to intervene between him and that great indelicacy? So we will say nothing of the time when Shahid told me, "We are lost, Sara," and "Yes, Shahid, we are lost," I firmly said.) [pp.103-4]
It's all quite confusing. Suleri goes far beyond referring to a previous moment in her text. She puts her text into an almost emotional role and complicates the matter by implicating the reader in its production.
1. Why does Suleri write "we will say nothing of (a) time..." about which she has already spoken? What does this repetition and this contradiction say about narrative time and her role as an author?
2. Is Suleri implicating the reader with "our eyes" and "So we will say nothing..."? If so, why? What is the effect and how does this usage inform the "we" of Sara's conversation with Shahid?
3. Suleri seems to comment on the process of autobiographical editing: "in this story, Ifat will not die before our eyes." Why might she bring attention to her presence in this way?
4. Why is all of this done within parentheses?
Last modified 4 May 2005