A text can be read and interpreted
differently by two different readers. It is because the significance of a text
is determined by the reader himself/herself. Every other reader is different.
There could be differences in the cultural background, experience, age, gender,
experiences and personal status. Therefore all readers read a text differently
and they can make their own unique interpretation of the text that they read.
This is also the case in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel CODF (Chronicles of
death foretold) 1981.
The reader always determines the meaning of
a text, because each reader has another personal attraction to the novel. In
all actuality, the writer wants the reader to feel personally attached to the
novel. The writer writes down the feelings and thoughts of the characters in
the novel in a very detailed way. The reader possibly can recognize this
specification from his own experiences. If a reader has in some way the
identical feelings or thoughts as the protagonist, he can replace himself in
the role of the protagonist and he will find a part of himself in the
protagonist. This will make a novel very memorable and unforgettable for its
reader because readers will be comparing themselves to the main protagonist of
the novel. The reader will think about what he and the character has in common
and he will remember this. Thus, each reader generates a different meaning for
For example there is one quote in COTD, “She wrote a weekly letter for over half a
lifetime. ‘Sometimes I couldn’t think of what to say’, she told me, dying with
laughter, ‘but it was enough for me to know that he was getting them.’ At first
they were a fiancée’s notes, then little messages from a secret lover, perfumed
cards from a furtive sweetheart, business papers, love documents… nevertheless,
he seemed insensible to her delirium; it was like writing to nobody.”
This quote is taken from the end of the
fourth chapter, in which Angela Vicario explains the letters she obsessively
wrote to Bayardo San Roman.
This quote shows that Angela has deep
feelings for Bayardo but Bayardo seems to care less. Some readers will have some personal
attachment to this quote because of their life experiences. Some readers might
be ignored just as the way Angela was being ignored of her love and affection.
The readers can recognize the pain behind not being acknowledged of your
feelings and the fear of rejection from a loved one. They will compare their
love with Angela’s love. Because they are personally attached to Angela, they
will determine a different meaning to the quote compared to readers who don’t have
any love interests. This quote is also evidence that Bayardo ignored the
letters. Some readers will replace themselves in Bayardo’s place in the novel.
Another reason for the fact that readers
determine the meaning of a text is that readers create an image for themselves.
This often happens in descriptive writing. The writer describes a character or
environment very detailed, which stimulates the imagination of the reader to
think more about the descriptions and use it for the creation of images in their
brain. Even thought the writer creates
various details, there is always room for the reader’s own creativity.
Therefore, each and every other reader will create his own unique image and the
text is read and interpreted differently by its readers. The reader
himself/herself can always decide which image he/she creates. The reader will begin to think about these
images and will give significance to them. For example, in Chronicles of death
foretold, Santiago Nasar is described: “I
saw him in her memory. He had turned twenty-one the last week in January, and
he was slim and pale and had his father’s Arab eyelids and curly hair.”
Although Nasar’s description given by the writer is very clear and detailed,
each reader will create an own image of Santiago Nasar. Some people will create
an image where Santiago looks good and handsome whereas some people will create
an image where Santiago looks bad and ugly.
The various interpretation of the novel has
to do with the various ages of the reader also. Readers who have come to a
mature age with proper understanding of the texts and the time it was written
can find out the cultural and political status of the setting in the novel
whereas readers who are very young can not find this out quickly.
A reader determines significance in novels,
but also each reader determines different significance in novels. Every reader
feels a different personal attraction to a text and they consider their own
thoughts and experiences when determining meaning of that text. Of course, each
reader has other experiences and thoughts; therefore the readers will all
interpret the text inversely.