“The Falling Girl” Write Up by Val Yero

Techniques tracked:

  • Vivid Imagery
  • Surreal and Fantastical Imagery

In “The Falling Girl” by Dino Buzzati, a nineteen-year-old girl named Marta looks over the railing of her terrace. All the grand and luxurious residents of her city overwhelm her. They drive expensive cars, sport costly jewelry, and wear pricey clothes. The buildings are all adorned with intricate patterns and Marta yearns for a lavish life. Marta leans over the balcony and lets herself fall. As she descends, she has multiple conversations with people. She sees some people having a party, and she wishes to attend. Girls falling from their terraces isn’t abnormal, it’s actually why the apartments have such a high rent. Marta notices another girl falling faster than she is and she gets jealous because the girl is dressed in expensive clothing, while her clothes are boring and dry. Marta realizes that she will not make it in time to the ball. In a room on the twenty-eighth floor, a wife tells her husband that a woman has just fallen, and he asks who it is. She says that it’s an old woman, and he is disappointed because only old women fall from the low floors, while the young, pretty ones fall from the higher ones, which is why the apartments cost so much to stay in them. He says that the only real advantage is that you get to hear the thud when the old women hit the ground.

The two techniques that I’ve tracked are vivid imagery and surreal and fantastical imagery. The first one is already prominent by the second paragraph:

The skyscraper was silver, supreme and fortunate in that most beautiful and pure evening, as here and there the wind stirred a few fine filaments of cloud against an absolutely incredible blue background… Within it were powerful men, and women who were even more powerful, furs and violins, cars glossy as and they constituted an interesting diversion for the tenants; this was also the reason why the price of those apartments was very high, the neon signs of nightclubs, the entrance halls of darkened mansions, fountains, diamonds, old silent gardens, parties, desires, affairs…

The vivid and intense description goes on through the whole story, and you can easily picture the setting of the story because a lot of detail is given to you very clearly. There’s a lot of sensory detail (mostly sight, but touch and hearing as well) that helps the reader visualize what’s happening in the story. It’s very jam-packed and elaborate, reflecting the society that Marta lives in.

The surreal component of the story adds a lot to the entire theme. In our world, if anyone falls from their roof, it’s a big deal. There’s an investigation, and the person gets medical attention, if they even survive. But here, it’s a regular instance. in fact, it’s a pastime for the wealthy renters of the apartments on the higher floors of the apartment complex:

…and they constituted an interesting diversion for the tenants; this was also the reason why the price of those apartments was very high.

Buzzati uses surreal elements to add to the overall weird feeling of the whole story. The bizarre idea of having multiple conversations while falling from a terrace makes the story feel like something that came straight out of a dream.

Some things that I’d like to implement in my own work is to write things that are not always “logical.” The author’s use of narrative time in the story works well. Marta falling would take about 25 seconds, and the majority of the story plays out between Marta falling from the balcony, and continues with her descending from the terrace.

I’d also like to be careful with my use of adjectives. Sometimes, I find myself looking through the thesaurus for every single word. This story does it well, though, because the use of elongated and elegant words shows how rich the wealthy people of Marta’s community are, and how different she is from them.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why do the residents of the apartments enjoy watching the women fall from their balconies?
  2. Can the story be related to any aspect of real life?
  3. What will happen once Marta and the other girls hit the ground?

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