She took me in her arms, as if telling me about what happened. "They had to kill him, they had to cut his throat before they left him in the forest. They made him still alive but he was in too much pain. We have to let him go, we have to leave him alone. We could still see his feet sticking up out of the mud."
4. We have already seen two examples of the novel's deft translation of narrative to prose, as the narrator and other characters have switched between first and third person writing. In the passage I've quoted, we have another such moment, in which the narrator says that the soldiers had to kill a wounded man and then notify his family of his death. In the passages that follow, the narrator's narrative gets a bit muddled, and though it's possible to understand everything, sometimes difficult passages are presented as internal thoughts in the narrator's head, and at other times as what the narrator sees and hears -- or perhaps in the present tense, as if it were happening to either the narrator or someone else. Compare the following two passages, which are very different in style, to better understand the narrator's often-confused thinking:
5. "They all had to promise not to let him have any more food. They told his wife he had fallen into a pit and he needed a doctor. He died in the spring, before the snow. What did he eat? Did he eat anything?" 6. "They made him still alive but they could not kill him. He was freezing. They had to stop and tell his mother what happened. His mother had to hear him like that, with his throat cut. She had to tell the others what happened. And then they had to tell the priest what he had done. She could not see her son anymore but she had to promise that he would not eat any more food of the rotten kind." the book of unknown american pdf 7. d2c66b5586