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<–(Bondville Miniature Village, Sewerby, Great Britain)

One of the things I noticed about “Miniature Man” was the way in which she begins the story. We are immediately greeted with a concise explanation of how we have gotten to this moment at which the story begins, and we become increasingly attentive to the smooth but quickly rolling rhythm of the narrative. Repetition is used throughout the story to create the feeling that a great deal of time has passed, and to drive home the idea that fifteen years seemed to have slipped through everyone’s grasp, and nothing significant happened in that time. (cited examples are italicized)

For fifteen years, Gregario Aruna worked among us, building his museum of miniatures here in our village of Monterojo, high in the Sierra de las Marinas, and in all that time, no one was allowed in the door of his museum. Fifteen years is a long time to work at something that no one is allowed to see, you will admit. Not even his mother and father had been inside the building, and naturally over the years there had grown a suspicion that Gregario’s museum was destined to be a failure. It is difficult, after all, to believe in something you have never seen that presents you all the time with a locked door, and paper over the windows, and a secretive host” (27).

The word “years” is used in three of the four sentences making up this first paragraph, and the final sentence is broken up with commas, giving the impression a distance is present between the “you” and the “secretive host”–there, too, the “secretive host” was a surprise to me before I realized the distance present between the narrative character and Gregario.  We only find out after this initial establishment of distance that the narrator is Dr. Xavia who, eleven pages later, turns out to be an uncle-like relation because he is Gregario’s mother’s cousin. The reticence to divulge this information is evident; Dr. Xavia mentions his relationship to their family only after introducing the scene where he is at breakfast with Gregario’s  parents, Carlos and Celeste, when Gregario walks in as a secondary character, as if a guest in his own home, despite the presence of Dr. Xavia, the actual guest.

There is a great deal of familial relationships explored in “Miniature Man,” and we come to feel irritation towards the mother, Celeste, and can sense the complicated tension between mother and son. I can hear her overbearing mothering tone in “cant you see he can’t do a thing for himself?…He’s like a baby again” (37). Carlos maintains a manly, but sympathetic relationship with Gregario, showing his support for his son by attempting to lessen Celeste’s unintentional blows. “He may be a baby, but he’s getting bald” Carlos says before kissing Gregario’s cheek. “Dont let her kill you with kindness” he whispers before leaving the room (38). We find out rather brusquely that Celeste would rather Gregario remain crippled and hand-less so that he cannot make models (allowing her to tend to his every need) than  him regain his health and be happy creating his art. When I realized how self centered Celeste was, I looked to the narrator, Dr. Xavia to close the distance between poor Gregario and his family.

Dr. Xavia seemed to be looking for the right thing to do as well,  but alone he possesses little confidence, which is where Patrick’s character comes into play. Patrick knows nothing of the culture, of the tradition, or the strained family relationships. All Patrick knows is how to use a different perspective– and that video camera, that way of seeing is what brings Gregario’s family closer to him. Suddenly the last fifteen years become important, because those seemingly lost years are documented in the faces and places depicted in the museum of miniatures. The distance between subject and object disappears as Dr. Xavia sees that “despite everything, all along we had been his inspiration,” (64).

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