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j -    Ted Rios’s life story, as it has been presented in this volume, is episodic , incomplete, and frequently repetitious. The topics and types of narratives presented thus far attempt to replicate the process of Ted’s oral narration to me.1 During our interviews Ted sometimes narrated related episodes, but as often as not—largely but not entirely due to my topic shifts in the interviews—he related episodes seemingly held together by nothing more than the fact that they were his observations and experiences and he was the teller. Listening to him address, and often later re-address, various topics from his life was dizzying. Just when I thought I could see a progression, a cause-and-effect relationship , a theme, or a chronology emerge, he made an association I couldn’t follow or reprised a topic so generally that I was lost. Sometimes he repeated an episode with such subtle changes that I wasn’t sure whether he’d forgotten the earlier telling of it or wanted to amplify or give it nuances omitted in the earlier version. Only through the accumulation of many hours of dialogue between us was I slowly able to begin to make some of the connections, which I think were so apparent and familiar to him that he felt no need spell them out. Despite the fact that he often recognized my confusion—I quickly learned toverbalize it byasking questions, as the tape transcripts demonstrate —he did not talk about his life for my narrative comfort. He talked with me to present his life as he perceived it, organized and expressed in ways that suited his own narrative comfort, except when I directed him to clarify or connected ideas. And he did look to me for direction at the beginning, but as the interviews went on he relied on  Life-Story Structure and Context my lead less and less and determined his own method of narration, a method I’ve come to appreciate more and more as I work with the tapes of the interviews. Eventually I figured out that if I was patient, the story would become comprehensible. Sooner or later, but mostly later, Ted would connect episodes, get back to the point of the story, bridge the narrative to some present issue that was on his mind, suggest a motive for the action. I became familiar with his narrative style. I learned to wait. And I began to recognize his patterns. The fortuneteller /mine sequence illustrates his associative style; toward the end of that segment of his narrative he returns to the fortune-teller, who precipitates his telling of the mining incidents. In other words, the structure of this and many segments inTed’s narrative is circular in design ; a topic or particular memory precipitates an extended narration that is associative but reconnected to the initiating topic or thought toward the end of the segment. All this, of course, attests to the fact that as an ‘‘act of memory and an act of creation, performance recalls and transforms the past in the form of the present’’ (Worthen : ). Though his narrative purpose is not always clear, his retrospective view of his life has purpose in the present moment and circumstance . His narration is digressive and meandering, but followed carefully its emplotment becomes evident and the connection of incidents is comprehensible. On a larger scale, Ted also tells his story in an associative , digressive way. Starting at the beginning of his life was my idea, not his, and even when I tried to force him into a chronology, Ted resisted and told his life in terms of his own logic and cultural constructs. W. S. Penn likens Native American life-story narration to oral tradition , noting that such narratives are not ‘‘linear or temporally sequential ’’ but freely digress dialogically in what he calls ‘‘supplementation’’ (: ). This is a useful term to apply to Ted’s narration, since he takes up topics, relating incidents that pertain to them associatively, and makes fairly dramatic shifts temporally. His narrative style, then, is ‘‘recursive rather than linear’’ (Harris : ). He supplements a single anecdote with related anecdotes that layer elements of a theme  Life-Story Structure and Context into a complex narrative. His discussion of his motion-picture experiences illustrates the nonlinear character of his narrative style. The particular films he discusses are identified geographically, not in terms of the sequence in which they occur in his life. Weather, location and terrain, costume, quality of horses...


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