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Point of View

Point of View

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Point of View

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  1. Point of View Feature Menu • What Is Point of View? • Omniscient Point of View • Third-Person-Limited Point of View • First-Person Point of View • Determining a Story’s Point of View • Voice • Tone • Practice

  2. What Is Point of View? Point of view is the vantage point from which a writer narrates or tells a story. [End of Section]

  3. Omniscient Point of View In the omniscient point of view, the all-knowing narrator • plays no part in the story • knows and can tell what any character is thinking and feeling • knows what is happening in all of the story’s settings

  4. Omniscient Point of View Quick Check How can you tell that this excerpt is written from the omniscient point of view? The frown on the bachelor’s face was deepening to a scowl. He was a hard, unsympathetic man, the aunt decided in her mind. . . . The smaller girl created a diversion by beginning to recite “On the Road to Mandalay.” She only knew the first line, but she put her limited knowledge to the fullest possible use. . . . It seemed to the bachelor as though someone had had a bet with her that she could repeat the line aloud two thousand times without stopping. from “The Storyteller” by Saki [End of Section]

  5. Third-Person-Limited Point of View In third-person-limited point of view, the narrator • plays no part in the story • knows and can tell what a single character is thinking and feeling

  6. Third-Person-Limited Point of View Quick Check How can you tell that this excerpt is written from the third-person-limited point of view? So they parted; and the young man pursued his way until, being about to turn the corner by the meeting-house, he looked back and saw the head of Faith still peeping after him with a melancholy air, in spite of her pink ribbons. “Poor little Faith!” thought he, for his heart smote him. “What a wretch am I to leave her on such an errand! She talks of dreams, too.” from “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne [End of Section]

  7. First-Person Point of View In first-person point of view, the narrator • is a character in the story • knows and can tell only what he or she thinks and feels • may be reliable and trustworthy or an unreliable narrator

  8. First-Person Point of View Quick Check How can you tell that this excerpt is written from the first-person point of view? At three o’clock I cried, “Print off,” and turned to go, when there crept to my chair what was left of a man. He was bent in a circle, his head was sunk between his shoulders, and he moved his feet one over the other like a bear. I could hardly see whether he walked or crawled. . . . “Can you give me a drink?” he whimpered. . . . I went back to the office, the man followed with groans of pain, and I turned up the lamp. “Don’t you know me?” he gasped. from “The Man Who Would Be King” by Rudyard Kipling [End of Section]

  9. Determining a Story’s Point of View When you read fiction, ask the following five questions about point of view: 1. Who is telling the story? 2. How much does the narrator know and understand? 3. How much does the narrator want me to know? 4. Can I trust the narrator? 5. How would the story be different if someone else told it?

  10. Determining a Story’s Point of View Quick Check Which excerpt is written from the first-person point of view? Which is written from the third-person-limited point of view? They would hate him with cold and terrible intensity, but it really didn’t matter. He would never see them, never know them. He would have only the memories to remind him; only the nights of fear. . . . from “The Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin It is eight suns’ journey to the east and a man passes by many Dead Places. The Forest People are afraid of them but I am not. Once I made my fire on the edge of a Dead Place at night. . . . from “By the Waters of Babylon” by Stephen Vincent Benét [End of Section]

  11. Voice A compelling narrator has a distinctive voice, carefully crafted by the narrator’s • use of language • choice of words, or diction • attitude, or tone

  12. Voice Listen to the description of a injured man in the voices of two narrators. The man’s doctor: The man’s wife: My patient had clearly been through a painful ordeal and required immediate surgery and long-term therapy to restore the full use of his injured arms, legs, and back. I fought back tears, trying to be brave for him, but the sight of my strong, tall husband so terribly injured and so weak was almost too much to bear. At last I gave way to grief. [End of Section]

  13. Tone Tone is the attitude a narrator takes toward a subject, another character, or the reader. The narrator’s tone may be optimistic, sad, curious, irritable, astonished, bitter, and so on. [End of Section]

  14. Practice Take a story you’ve read recently, and do the following exercises: • Imagine the story as told from a different point of view, and write the opening paragraphs. • Explain how changing the point of view affects the story. [End of Section]

  15. The End