The Good Soldier Analysis

1477 Words6 Pages
Within the novel The Good Soldier, by Ford Maddox Ford, narration serves as an imperative framing mechanism for propelling the plot of the story, while also generating the fragmentation necessary for maintaining the unclarity that pervades John’s story. By both subtly positioning the narrator John Dowell as an outsider relative to the other characters, and consequently emphasizing the notion of being outside, Ford facilitates a pointillistic representation of the infidelities that characterize his story. Not only does Ford distance Dowell from the other characters in his narrative, but he also prompts the reader to reject John as an omnipotent, reliable source, thereby provoking the former to rely on interpretation as the primary means for finding resolution. Emphasizing several factors that distinguish John from the other characters, such as his nationality, his inclusion in and knowledge of the infidelitous relationships, his personality type, his future reflective standpoint, and his tendency to infuse his current attitudes and nostalgia into his retelling of this story, Ford employs narration as the essential mechanism for framing the story.
Initially denoting both his position as an outsider, and his efforts to justify the abhorrent, adulterous, behavior of Edward Ashburnham and Florence, Dowell frames himself as an American who is merely observing British culture. While establishing himself within his story, Dowell claims that the adulterous affair “is, I believe, a state of things only possible with English people of whom, till today, when I sit down to puzzle out what I know of this sad affair, I knew nothing whatever,” proceeding to concede that “Six months ago [he] had never been to England” (13). That Ford notes this distinction on the first page of the narrative forces the reader to immediately consider John as a relative outsider in the story, a notion that is compounded by the latter’s constantly identifying cultural differences between himself and the Ashburnhams. By conceding that he had not even traveled to England prior to his experience with the Ashburnhams, Dowell implicitly frames their cultural differences as responsible for Edward Ashburnham’s infidelitous tendencies and Leonora’s
Get Access