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Point of View

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Anna H

on 6 March 2017

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Transcript of Point of View

Point of View
Other Points of View

This narrator tells the story in third person (“he” “she”) and has different levels of knowledge about characters.

Nonparticipant Narrator

Narrator as Participant

Perspective of the Story

Every story has a narrator. Someone is always telling the story, whether as a first hand account, as an observer, or as an unknown and unseen presence.
When exploring point of view, we ask: Who is telling the story? From whose eyes? Who is the narrator?

One definition of narrator: “recording consciousness that an author creates.”

Let's look at different types of narrators that you may encounter:
A first person narrator tells a story as "I"

Can be either a major or minor character
Example of First Person Narrators

Major Participant
: "A & P": Sammy is narrating the story in which he participates.

Minor Participant
: The Great Gatsby: Although Jay Gatsby is the main character, Nick Carraway is the narrator.
Different Types of 3rd Person Narrators

This narrator is all-knowing. Can see in multiple characters' thoughts. Can be either editorial or impartial.

Limited or Selective Omniscience

This narrator tells the story from one or some characters point of view (remember, though, we're talking about third person here)


This narrator does not see into any characters; but reports from outside. Think of this narrator as like looking through a camera lens .
Point of view can be more involved than simple categories of "First" and "Third" person.
Stream of Consciousness
This point of view is when we remain in the mind of a character, experiencing mostly their thoughts and feelings. Can be an interior monologue or in relation to her actions. ("Rodney Is Looking for His Daughter")
Unreliable Narrator
You can't always rely upon your narrator for a clear understanding of a story. First person narrators can be self-deluded, deranged, naive or child-like, manipulative, etc. Some narrators distort their stories intentionally or unintentionally.
Famous narrators who are unreliable:

Tom in The Glass Menagerie

Huck Finn in The Adventures of...

Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye

Montressor in "The Cask of Amantillado"

The narrator in "The Yellow Wallpaper"

Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby

John Dowell in The Good Soldier
Is this first person narrator reliable:

Sammy in "A & P"?

Point of view may seem complicated at first glance. Here are some questions to get you on the right track with p.o.v. in a story:

Always ask
is telling the story and in what person they are telling it.

Then ask
the narrator is telling the story. What is his/her motivation?

anything important is being left out of story or if your narrator is trustworthy (try to understand if your narrator is reliable or not)
Ask yourself:

Is this narrator fully aware of the implications of the story he's telling and of the consequences of his actions?
He's not aware of consequences until the end.

Do we know a little more about Sammy than he knows about himself?
We can see his immaturity and some of his flaws that he does not seem to be aware of.

Is Sammy offering us the truth? Or is it the truth as he sees it?
He's not intentionally manipulating us but he is somewhat naive as a narrator.

Second Person

Not as common as first and third person
Makes reader feel like a participant in story
Creates sense of closeness to protagonist
Often instructional
"How to..."
Decide first that you don’t really have a problem. Tell yourself this as you straddle the dirty porcelain of a liquor store toilet and rail sticky brown crystals into long, thin lines with a pocketknife. Even though you can feel your heart pounding and bowels loosening with anticipation, fix your face into a sneer and say, “Fucking peanut butter crank.”

“Now don’t start complaining,” the Night Manager says from over your shoulder. “It’s like the proverbial horse and the mouth and all that.”

Stand up from the toilet seat. Let the Night Manager do his line first. Normally you wouldn’t be so polite, but you’ve told him you aren’t holding any money, so you’ll have to wait for him to roll some dead president’s portrait into a tooter.

When it’s finally your turn, take that tooter in cold, trembling fingers, hold it a few millimeters above the back of the toilet, then quickly snort and swallow the line. Swallow hard. Peanut butter burns like hell, like it’s got glass in it. Jump straight up, clutching at your face, and fall heavily against the plywood wall of the bathroom. Don’t try to breathe for several seconds. Oxygen will only make the burn worse.

Now. There. Don’t you feel better? Hell yes you do.
As an example of second-person pov, here is an excerpt from the opening of Nathan Altman's story "How to Kick a Crank Habit" which puts the reader immediately into the world of a drug addict. (Be advised: Strong Language)
In Altman's story the second point of view is quite effective. The story is dark, painful, gritty, and portrays the all-too-real life of an addict. Using the second person "you" here forces the readers to be front and center in a world many of us only see glimpses of on TV or in films. At times it's quite an uncomfortable place to be. Whenever I read the story, I often have to stop and take a rest because it's emotionally draining. The point of view creates a multitude of feelings. It's exhilarating and makes my heart race, and it makes me afraid, anxious, and it makes me feel disgusted too. Since I've never been a drug addict myself, I would never know this world otherwise--
is the power of point of view. The writer made a deliberate choice here to insert us into this world. He wants us to not just bear witness as we could easily do in first person or third person, but he wants us to
this life.
Example: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
One character >
Example: Narrator in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
multiple characters
Example: "Little Things" by Raymond Carver
Sammy could be considered an unreliable narrator!
Example in your text: Junot Diaz's "How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie" pp. 318-321 - We'll read this story this week!
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