The stories in Spectacle rather than developing external characters or heavily focusing on the environments the stories are situated in, seem to be primarily interested in developing the internality of the narrator(s). The reader is repeatedly drawn into the mind of the narrator and in this movement, is drawn away from the external world in which the narrator exists, or at least is made aware of a tension that exists between the internal and external world of the narrator. I consider the repeated phrase “This to say” in the first story in the book. A version of this modifying phrase can be found throughout the text thus far (“What I mean is…” “[this] meaning….” etc.). By modifying her claims by ending them with “this to say” (or something to a similar effect) and then altering her original statement, the narrator allows us to examine her own thought process and allows herself to add multiple dimensions to single words, phrases or sentences. In speech, we are much less keenly aware of a speakers internal understanding of what they are saying. Once a speaker says something, their thoughts enter the external world and are interpreted independently by those who hear them. By making a statement and then modifying it (sometimes with a seemingly contradictory statement), the narrator reclaims her thoughts from the external world of readers and listeners and forces us to come closer to her true intentions, intentions that the narrator alone is fully aware of.
The use of pronouns or largely impersonal labels to describe every character outside of herself is further evidence of the narrator’s/Steinberg’s work to draw the reader away from the situations of the stories and into the internal processes of the narrator. “Guy” in place of the names of those with which she has had a sexual relationship (or those who she considers sexually or who consider her sexually); “brother,” “father,” “mother,” in place of family members names; “friend,” in place of most every other character’s name. The external characters matter in this text but only in the ways that they affect or are interpreted by the narrator.
The external world is important to the story. Place names are given, relationships of characters to the narrator are made apparent (to the degree to which that is necessary), but they are not the primary focus. There seems to be a lot of work in this text to draw us into the narrator’s understanding of the world. The impact of this internalizing effort seems to be to show a perspective of the world that may contradict or challenge the reader’s own understanding it. These are distinctly female characters and their gender identification clearly dictates the way the world sees them, the way they see themselves and the way they see the world.