Critical Essays Narrative Techniques: Sparks' Literary Form


Instead of starting at the beginning and telling the story in chronological order, Nicholas and Micah Sparks begin Three Weeks with My Brother toward the end of what would be a linear narration and then employ both the framing technique and flashback to tell their tale. Most of the memoir consists of two narrative threads — one of the trip and one of their lives growing up.

The contemporary storyline is the journey around the world. This narrative strand begins in the spring of 2002 and continues through February 15, 2003. Important information that shapes their time on the trip occurred years earlier, though. If you imagine a picture in a frame, the narrative about their life growing up is the photograph, and the trip around the world frames this memoir-photo.

This framework technique provides the structure of the plot, and flashback is the technique Sparks uses to tell the stories. Characters reveal these "framed" stories through their shared and private memories.

Stylistically, the narrative techniques work well because Three Weeks with My Brother is not just a memoir about an exotic trip around the world; it also explores the development of a fraternal bond — a bond that would not exist without the shared experiences, and the framing technique enables Sparks to weave the past together with the present, leading to the emotional climax and creating a compelling read along the way. The juxtaposition of the past and present parallels the contrast between the joys and pains of life. Micah and Nicholas Sparks use the trip around the world to reaffirm their relationship and need for one another. Their journey around the world is both literal and metaphorical, for their memories and experiences from the past clearly affect and impact the present, and the present-day trip serves as preparation for their future.

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