[Prose Analysis] Structure in "The Huntress"

Read “The Huntress” by Sofia Samatar. Consider the structure and chronology of the narrative, and the elements (flashback, narrative perspective, etc.) that the author utilizes to convey the meaning of the story.

In the comments below, answer: Which structural element is most significant in conveying the meaning of this story?

  • 1-2 sentences that clearly names the element
  • a claim about the meaning of the story
  • two pieces of evidence that show the element and support your claim

Respond for feedback by Wednesday, April 8

“The Huntress”
Prose Analysis Evidence and Commentary

Samatar’s use of the first-person perspective, from a foreign narrator, emphasizes a more dynamic relationship between the narrator and the Huntress, especially their mutual interests toward each other. This is accentuated by the narrator’s ignorance about the Huntress until the reader is able to share her experience through her stream of consciousness. The Huntress is a mystical creature without any description of her appearance. Its mythological imagery is punctuated by merely indirect descriptions of “dark patches” and leaving “a streak”, leaving the tone of suspense. The narrator’s ignorance of the Huntress fosters a distinctly different attitude toward her. The narrator seems fearless or even curious toward the Huntress despite her being antagonistic and fierce, a stark contrast with other townspeople who are hidden “under beds” and “covering heads”. In addition, the narrator seems to relate to the Huntress as if they are building connections and the narrator is interested in her feelings. While the narrator attempts to relate to the Huntress, “feel like…turning into” her, the Huntress bears witness but not feeds on the narrator, very different than her attitude toward the townspeople that is evident in their fear.

The plot structure of the story also contributes to Samatar’s effective characterization of the Huntress as a violent yet exaggerated creature. The use of flashback is a reminder to the reader that a lion does not have a grand howl but a realistic “whining hunger”. The high yet small voice of the Huntress seems to be a situational irony against the fearful description in the beginning of the story, yet her entrance in the story and the crime she possibly committed again reinforces her vile mentality, heightening the tension and breaking up the suspense at the ending.

The Huntress is about feeding the fear of the unknown. How ignorance can help someone build-up the desiring of knowing and the courage.

My notes on the story:

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In The Huntress, Samatar can convey the intertwined relationship between the Huntress and the narrator by using flashbacks. The meaning of the story is how a monster can connect to someone on a deeper level. By showing how the monster can be influential in a person’s life in a matter of a short encounter.

The intertwined relationship between the Huntress and the narrator is a complex yet dynamic. In a brief encounter, the Huntress can change their life forever. The flashbacks that the narrator has shown allows the audience to clearly understand what had happened in his encounter with her. The narrator starts by saying, “I went to slam it shut, but instead I stood there, fingers gripping the edge of the frame. I closed my eyes in the searching heat.” So, at the beginning of the story, the encounter with the Huntress is established. It is able to show the narrator is put into a trance whereas the people in the city were “taking shelter in their cellars and under their beds” while this encounter was happening. The Hunteress is also able to bring more flashbacks to the surface, more specifically ones that dealt with the narrator’s childhood. The narrator is able to compare the Huntress’s prowl with his father’s mimic of a lion’s prowl. He says, “He would scare us by mimicking the sound of a lion. This lion didn’t sound like any lion from movies or games or anything. It has a whining hunger.” The influence the Huntress has over the narrator shows through the flashbacks the narrator conveys. Through just her lion sound, the sound is able to drag an old memory from the narrator’s childhood. The Huntress is not only scared the narrator but it has allowed the narrator to relive memories and reflect. She is able to have a psychological effect just by this encounter, pushing her influence not only physically but emotionally.

In The Huntress, Sofia Samatar’s use of flashbacks creates a sense of unification as to why the narrator feels so connected to The Huntress. This conveys the meaning of the story, to show that despite being from two different worlds, the narrator and The Huntress have a connection, despite what others think of them.
It seems in the story that the narrator is an outcast and new to this land even calling herself a “foreigner” and is shown by the narrators actions, she had her windows open when everyone else is running and hiding. While The Huntress is feared by everyone but the narrator. The narrator connects The Huntress to her father through flashbacks. Going as far as to connect her fathers “mimicking the sound of a lion” to The Huntress’s “high and small voice”. By flashbacking to the narrators past it shows the curiosity lurking below the surface. The narrator is drawn to The Huntress because it reminds her of her father. Despite the fear of others the narrator wants to know The Huntress and realizes she herself is turning into “this fierce person”. The narrator again flashbacks to her father, this time comparing fierceness found around her mouth to how “our dads was the same way”. This time the narrator is shocked as to how deep the connection goes. Seeing her father more deeply in The Huntress and drawing her more near her. The Huntress returns to not feed but “was there as a witness”, to show The Huntress feels this connection too the narrator as well.

In “The Huntress,” author Sofia Samatar uses various elements to convey the meaning of the story. The structural element that is most significant in achieving this is narrative perspective. By utilizing a first-person narration, the author is able to reveal that the narrator feels some type of complex connection to the Huntress, even though it is viewed as a monster by the locals. This point of view allows Samatar to present a story that indicates no matter how different two things are, they can still have a connection, regardless of what others think.
The first-person perspective reveals that the narrator is a “foreigner” who “didn’t know better.” This revelation is very important because it immediately established the narrator as someone who is alone and inexperienced with his/her surroundings. The narrator shares this trait of being “different” with the Huntress, and it is a characteristic which gives them a connection.
The first-person narrative perspective also reveals that the Huntress and the narrator of a common interest in one another. Although the narrator sees that, “all over the city, people were taking shelter in their cellars and under their beds,” he/she does not. Instead, the narrator, “stood there.” Although it is clear that all of the locals are hiding, the foreigner does not seem to be terribly afraid. The huntress seems to have an interest in the narrator as well, because she would come to the narrator’s window, “but she was not there to feed. She was there as a witness.” Although it is not clear what the huntress is witnessing, it is evident that she isn’t there to harm the narrator.

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