Bruce Berger, in Fernando and Marisela, does an excellent job of showing rather than telling how he feels about Marisela. As a result, we as readers truly understand his sentiments, rather than just viewing them as part of a personal anecdote. Berger begins on the same plane as the reader. The first sentence references “drawers of nightstands” and their contents – an impersonal and general mention to which the reader can relate. In the second sentence, Berger refers to Marisela’s photograph as “a piece of litter” – probably how the reader would have seen it. The middle of the story is a journey throughout which Marisela grows in importance. Since the Berger started out by assigning very little importance to Marisela, as we did, we can follow and comprehend her growth. By the end of the story, Marisela is a character as real as the narrator, and Berger leaves readers with a much deeper idea of his sentiments than we would have if he had tried to explain them outright.
When Berger first unfolds the photograph, he spends almost as much time describing the “neutral backdrop” as he does describing Marisela, the subject. He surveys the photo with what seems like bland interest, telling what he sees but offering no commentary. Similarly, Berger shows no emotional response to the content of the note on the back of the photograph. Instead, he moves seamlessly into an examination of the state of the paper itself. He takes more interest in this photograph than he would in another random piece of litter, but Marisela has not yet become important. By the end of the paragraph about the paper, Berger acknowledges that she was alive, and she begins to take on character. Soon after, he transitions from referring to “Marisela’s snapshot” to referring to Marisela herself.
Berger shows Marisela’s next step toward becoming a true character by beginning to speculate about her activities. He has now moved far beyond litter, vague interest, and acknowledging a formless life. “Were Marisela’s friends dyeing their hair that year, or did she do it just for Fernando?” he wonders. He then moves from wonderment to predictions: “She presumably gave him her picture before he headed to find work in a land where the girls were blonde and radiant.” Next, Berger’s predictions become less speculative, so Marisela’s character became more solid. Berger explains how Marisela, in response to Fernando’s feeling trapped, “would turn icy, then accusative.”
Finally, Marisela becomes a character in her own right. Berger addresses her directly and says, “You were right to let your hair grow dark, to embark on adulthood, to forget the worthless Fernando.” He seems as certain of these things as he would be if he knew her. Berger suggests that Marisela remember him if she ever feels alone, as though she knew him also. By the end of the story, Marisela has come a long way – to being a character from being a piece of litter. Readers, who followed her growth from the beginning, can see Marisela as a character just as Berger does. Berger has successfully and completely conveyed his sentiments, without stating them explicitly or leaving the reader behind.