I really enjoyed reading Clive Barker’s “The Yattering and Jack”. It was interesting how we get the Yattering’s point of view for the first half of the piece, and his frustrations, until Jack’s point of view sneaks in and then slowly takes over. I want to talk, first, about the point of view switch. I should clarify that as the piece is written in third person, the entire piece would be written from an omniscient narrator’s point of view, with limited psychic distance into one of the characters at any given time, however, I will refer to the narrator’s psychic insight as point of view.
It was handled so smoothly that at first I was unsure it happened. You might be thinking, if you are unsure it happened, wouldn’t that mean it failed? However, I would explain, and say that I was unsure if it happened, not unaware that it happened. There was a paragraph in which Jack’s actions are described, preparing for the Christmas holiday. This paragraph could have been told from the Yattering’s point of view, or from Jack’s, as it is merely summary. It is a necessary paragraph, though in summary, because it was the shift that opened the reader to Jack’s head. As I said, it was so smooth I almost didn’t notice that it happened, and when I finally did, I realized that I had easily shifted into Jack’s point of view. I think my uncertainty stemmed from breezing so quickly through the pages that my mind wasn’t processing what I was reading fast enough, and I had to go back and make sure that I hadn’t been reading with Jack’s thoughts all along.
Another thing that really impressed me was how we were able to see the two character’s motivations and what lead them to the final tipping point at the end. I think had we just seen the Yattering’s point of view, the fight at the end may have been less believable, and it would be the same had we just seen Jack’s for the whole story. We are reading about writing action scenes, and I think as far as the action scenes in this story went, I was able to believe everything that happened, as if it were realistic enough to happen. I think had we not known the intentions of either character, as Hautala mentions in “Fight and Action Scenes in Horror”, it would have been harder to read through the fight scene between the two of them at the end.
Had we assumed that Jack was as naïve as the Yattering thought him to be, we would have been shocked in the end, and thrown for a loop when Jack decided to fight back all of a sudden. Knowing the things that we did about Jack, how he was aware of the Yattering’s presence and he was just waiting for the right time to reveal himself, we were able to fathom the fight at the end, it made it more believable for us. Similarly, having Jack’s daughters in the scene, as both collateral and tool, added to the believability of the fight scene as well.
Overall, I think Barker did a really great job creating realistic characters, and a realistic scenario, given the fantastical elements he chose.