Who's Speaking?

Arnold Chan (English 112, 1996)

My birth takes place more than once. In the plea of a bygone monster; from a muddy hole by corpse-light; under the needle, and under the pen.

Or it took place not at all.

But if I hope to tell a good story, I must leapfrog out of the middle of my several births to the day I parted for the last time with the author of my being, and set out to write my own destiny. (from "Birth")

Who is speaking here? At first glance, it may seem that it is the female monster speaking, ready to tell her story and to narrate her autobiography. Yes, the "bygone monster" of Frankenstein had asked for the creation of a mate, and yes, her parts were gathered "by corpse-light" and assembled "under the needle." However, how was she created "under the pen"? Perhaps some case could be made for the necessary scientific and mathematical figurings required for such an undertaking, but it seems out of place.

Looking deeper, perhaps it is not the monster at all who is speaking, but the text itself. Could the "bygone monster" be the printed text of the past? Could the "muddy hole by corpse-light" and "the needle" be allusions to the eerie glow of a computer monitor and the needle point of a mouse? Now, then, the pen would seem to be at home.

Shelley Jackson's creation works wonderfully on several levels. The text is a double entendre of sorts. Even though Patchwork Girl is the story of a female Frankenstein's monster, it doubles as an excellent commentary on the fluid and eclectic properties of hypertext.

I am buried here. You can resurrect me, but only piecemeal. If you want to see me whole, you will have to sew me together yourself. (from "Graveyard")

Here is the monster speaking about her parts and origins, but one can easily interpret this as the essence of hypertext: here are the parts; put it together yourself and see what you get. This is the culmination of the interactive text.

Discussion of Patchwork Girl Overview Screen for Website Body and Self