Point of View discussion questions Narrator: Who is speaking? (The narrator is not the author, but a created voice, even if it is an implied author.) o Does it seem to be a man or a woman speaking? o First-person narrator (I, me): Is the narrator one of the characters in the story, able to interact with others, participating in the action? If so… Which character? The main character, one of the major characters, a minor character, or an insignificant or fringe observer? What’s the narrating character’s relationship to the main character and main action? o Third-person narrator (he, she, they): Is the narrator a disembodied voice, commenting on events but not participating in them? If so… What is the level of omniscience? Omniscient, all-knowing narrator: Does the narrator reveal the inner thoughts and emotions of many or all of the characters? And how frequently? Limited omniscient, limited all-knowing narrator: Does the narrator reveal the inner thoughts of one character (a central consciousness) and let the reader guess the minds of the others by their overt words and actions? Objective narrator, “fly-on-the-wall” narrator: Does the narrator reveal only actions and words, leaving the reader to guess the thoughts and emotions of all the characters only by objective observation? Voice: Tone: What seems to be narrator’s attitude toward the characters and what they do? o Which characters do you get the feeling the reader is supposed to approve of, condemn, or be indifferent to? o What other attitudes do you hear in the narrator’s voice? Biases? Desires? What is the overall mood of the story? (The narrator might be miserable but the story hilarious, or the narrator might be lighthearted and the story terrifying.) Reliable or unreliable narrator: o Does the narrator seem to have an agenda? o Is the narrative voice to be trusted? o Naïve narrator: Is the narrative voice well-informed? Focus: A first-person narrator is always the central consciousness whose senses and thoughts guide us. A third-person narrator, however, usually chooses a focal character to follow. A third-person, limited all-knowing narrator also views the action through a central consciousness. How does it affect the plot to tell the story from this perspective (through this set of eyes and ears)? o Pacing, emphasis: Does using this narrator direct your attention to certain people or actions? Is the narrator unaware of some things, leaving them to the reader to figure out? Is the narrative voice more interested in some things, less in others? o Sequencing: Does the narrator become aware of events in some order that affects the reader’s understanding as time goes on? o How would a different narrative focus change the plot (pacing and sequencing)? Auditor: To whom is the narrator speaking? Is it just anyone reading, or does it seem like the narrator is addressing you as a friend? A witness? A victim? A confidante? A specific person or role, like a member of a jury? In other words, is there an unusual relationship between speaker and listener?
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