[Discussing Ian McEwan's Atonement, and starting to bring up some of the novel's metafictional elements:]
"The character doesn't notice symbolism or foreshadowing, because...she's a character. But we do, because we're trained to read novels in a certain way. Think about it...my roof started leaking, and on Thanksgiving! [students laugh] Well, if this was a novel, we'd be thinking, 'that leak symbolizes something going terribly wrong in her life, and on Thanksgiving...that's clearly ironic,' etc. But this isn't a novel, so all I'm thinking about is, 'nobody will fix my roof on Thanksgiving.'"