Linda S. Maier introduces the article referencing Borges’ statement that Emma Zunz belongs to the genre of realism. However many critics point out ‘opposition’ between truth, reality, fact, substance; and ambiguity, appearance, fantasy, absence. The article looks at names and nomenclature of both currents (postmodernism, hyperrealism, etc) and an analysis of the significance of the character names in the story. I summarise some valid points of the latter as they relate to realism and uncertainty in the narrative:

  • Literary comparison to J. Austen’s Emma and G. Flaubert’s Emma (Madame Bovary)
  • Emma itself is a contraction of Emmanuel, her father. She bares stigma of father’s dishonour.
  • Her motives are ambiguous. Significance of the allusion to mirrors
  • Other allusions to double letters in Emma (mm) being her father’s assumed name Manuel Maier, as well as other literary references to her surname Zunz
  • Religios references in names Manuel, Maier, Aaron, Loewenthal, references to jewish migration and to the fact Loewenthal speaks Yiddish.
  • Other symbols of ‘illusion of reality’ like the portrait of Milton Sills (actor)
  • The opening paragraph, like the rest of the text, mixes facts fact and uncertainty.
    • Uncertainty: Letter states accidental overdose, Emma assumes suicide.
    • Uncertainty:  the length of the letter, scribbled writing, uncertain person
    • Uncertainty: Sailor’s name
    • Fact: description of neighbourhood, newspaper, transport
    • Fact: specific dates
    • Fact: father’s location in Brazil hints at lower status due to embezzlement
    • “The story’s final paragraph calls attention to the precarious and unsettled nature of reality”
    • The story is neither true nor false, but both at once (she references Milroy & Walsh)

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