Andrew Wiget
This study grew out of a concern that current deep structure postulations were all only partially successful because they did not illustrate the complex relationship between all the elements of a tale's deep and surface structures. To illustrate the value of a more complex and discriminating analytical method and the information it can yield, I collected twenty-nine variants of the popular Eskomo story of several girls who were wedded to nonhuman husbands (the most accessible variant is "The
more » ... le and Eagle Husbands," in Thompson's Tales of the North American Indians). The method involved three steps: first, developing a mode of description which would provide accountability for all units and relationslips in the surface structure of any variant text; second, constructing a model hypothetical base tale which would reflect in detail the surface structure complexity of the variant texts; and third, expanding a simple deep structure formula to correlate it with the hypothetical base tale. Through these expanded forms I hoped to accurately describe the relationship between the tale's deep and surface structures. Descriptive Analysis and Surface Structure Attempting to account for all parts of a tale required rethinking and revision of the common usage definitions for delineating units of surface structure. Alan Dundes, in his morphological study, briefly summarized the history of this ongoing process of revision to which I would contribute the following discussion. Thompsonls motifs do not adequately serve the purpose of accountability since they cover units of narrative action which vary both in size and significance; nor, perhaps, were they intended to. However, I have retained 'the 'term "motif" with its widespread connotation of being the nuclear element in folktales, but I have tried to further specify the term with a structural definition. In the Eskimo tale, for instance, a girl is abducted by an animal (usually a whale, but in at least one instance a walrus) to some distant place (there are several alternatives) where in a few variants he builds her a house from his bones. The question, in structural terms, is whether this action is divisible and on what basis. An abduction and abductor are required in every variant, though the type of animal may vary: the other information appears optional. On the basis of occurrence we can isolate the abduction act from the other elements which appear to molify it. I would define Motif, tFen, as the smallest independent unit of plot capable of isolation and modification. Snlaller than the motif is the Detail, the type of animal, for example. Details are often optional and they always modify a motif or another detail, never occurring apart from such modifying relationships.