Blog 6: Dialogue

One of the narrative elements I looked at was dialogue.  One of the interesting aspects of Doctoro’s writing style is that he does not use quotation marks, making spotting dialogue a bit more difficult.  There are very few instances of dialogue in the chapters we have read so far, and the lines of dialogue are usually rather short.  One of the best examples of dialogue can be found in the interactions of JP Morgan and Henry Ford when Morgan invites him over for dinner and to talk about certain ideological ideas.  Even in this dialogue it really does not go back and forth like a typical conversation.  One character will make statements while the other listens, then the other will talk.

In chapter 20 where Morgan and Ford have their conversation the dialogue serves the purpose of not only telling the reader what is going on, as Morgan explains his plans and his work to Ford, but works to show the differences in the two men.  Morgan talks with large words talking about what he has bought and accomplished with his riches. On page 149 Morgan says “You of couse do not know of the writings of Giordao Bruno, of which here is a specimen page in his own handwriting”, talking down to Ford assuming that he does not know of that person because he is not as educated and scholarly as Morgan, he then shows off one of the rare artifacts his wealth has acquired. He even says “I hope you are following this closely” implying that Ford cant wrap his head around what Morgan is saying.  One of the best examples of Morgans high class language is found on page 150 talking about mechanist science where he says “…was a great conspiracy, a great devilish conspiracy to destroy our apprehension of reality and our awareness of the transcendentally gifted among us”. He uses large words and lofty sentences to show how mentally lofty he his.

Ford, on the other side of this conversation, after Morgan explains, in lofty language, all the things his heavily paid scholars have found, coming to the conclusion that smart and gifted people were really reincarnations of previous people, basically calls Morgan an idiot for wasting all this time and money on an idea he came up with early in his life from a cheap novelty book.  Ford says, on page 152, about his education “…I suffered my cGuffey like the rest of them.” and “…I had no patience with the two-dollar words” explaining how he is just a normal person.  He says he spent twenty-five cents on a book which set his mind that his genius comes from reincarnation.  He chastises Morgan’s waste of money by saying “..what you have spent on scholars and traveled around the world to find, i already knew.”  He shows his lack of complicated speech when he says “…you dont have to fuss with all these Latiny things..”. Doctorow uses this “conversation” between Morgan and Ford to show how, even though both of these men are rich and great businessmen, they are not all the same.  Ford is simple and efficient, evident in his assembly line and Morgan is extravagant and seeminly wasteful as he builds a cruise liner just to sail the nile.

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6 Responses to “Blog 6: Dialogue”

  1. Good analysis. This difference between Morgan and Ford carries across the whole scene, as when Ford tells Morgan “there goes your theory up shits creek” in chapter 20. What do you think was the purpose of leaving out quotation marks? And why does Doctorow spend so long elaborating on Morgan’s thoughts, theories, and plans?

  2. Because there is very little back and forth between characters there really isnt a need for quotation marks. Each sentence that has dialogue usually is preceded with “He said…” so that the reader knows someone is talking. Another possible reason for a lack of quotation marks is that these are real people, and to put in a quotation mark might confuse readers as to whether that quote was something he really said, or something fabricated by Doctorow.

    I think Doctorow spends so much time eleaborating on Morgan’s plans is that it shows a distinction between how fancy Morgan is and tries to be, and how simple and efficient Ford is. Morgan has like 3 pages of him explaining all his plans and discoveries, and Ford says his belief in the span of less than a page.

  3. Throughout the whole book Doctorow refrains from using quotation marks, so I don’t think this would be an exception. The author is simply following the style used throughout the rest of the story. Doctorow could have spent such a long time elaborating on Morgan, because Morgan will somehow be involved later in the story. J.P. Morgan could play a larger role in the story than Henry Ford.

  4. Great analysis of this conversation, there is so much that is really going on and you really explained the differences between the two.

  5. I think another possible reason for not using quotes could be that the story is almost presented as a memory, and not a narrative of what is going on. This makes it a little less accurate, and therefore quotations would not be neccessary.

  6. I think that the use of no quotation marks in this scene is done, so Doctorow can blend the characters thoughts with there speech to allow the section to flow more smoothly.

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