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briefly compare and contrast how the respective voices in “The Story of an Hour” and “Ah, Are You Digging on My Grave?” and “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” impact the meaning of the texts.
Note: Apply the elements of the above rhetorical pattern (compare and contrast) in your post.
Mention the name of the classmate in your salutation when you are responding to a post. It will help to track the original post’s content.
Your response should be a mini-essay format: it should have a brief introduction, body and conclusion.
Use details from primary text or any other reading to support your claims.
Do not exceed 250 words
Understanding Literature: Point of View
So far, we have discussed the following components of literature that help shape our understanding of literature. Their equivalences in essays/compositions are as follows:
Plot = Structure of an essay
Chracterization = Ideas
Theme = Topic in an essay
Understanding the significance of structure in an essay, the importance of ideas in a writer’s effort to make an argument, and the meaning of theme in the role it plays in the writing process is essential. This knowledge, and your application of what you have discovered should help you succeed as an academic writer.
This week, we will look at Points of View.
Point of view, according to X.J. Kennedy, Dorothy M. Kennedy and Marcia F. Muth in The Bedford Guide for College Writers, is “the angle from which a story is told” and this “might be the author’s or a character’s” (269). In other words, to define a text’s point of view, it is important to establish who the narrator is: “the narrator is the one who tells the story and perceives the events, perhaps with limited knowledge or a part to play” (Kennedy et al).
The above definition aligns itself with what X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia say in Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing when they declare: To identify a story’s point of view one has to, “describe the role the narrator plays in the events and any limits placed on his or her knowledge of the events” (26).
Before we discuss “any limits placed “on a narrator as a result of the usage of a particular point of view or the other, let us consider how R.S. Gwynn defines point of view. For Gwynn, point of view is all about that someone who is always between the reader and the action of the story. Thus, he states: “every story has a narrator, a voice, a character that provides the reader with information about and insight into characters and incidents” (15-16). This voice may have an obvious identity or its identity may not be apparent. He further states that point of view refers to “the question of authority in the story” (15). This speaks to the power, the influence and the weight of the narrator vis-à-vis the discourse.
The extent to which the narrator may influence the discourse is rooted in the particular point of view the narrator or the writer uses. As Kelly J. Mays posits in The Norton Introduction to Literature:
Often a reader is very aware of the voice of a narrator telling the story, as if the words are being spoken aloud. Commonly, stories also reveal a distinct angle of vision or perspective from which the characters, events, and other aspects are viewed. Just as the verbal quality of narration is called the voice, the visual angle is called the focus. Focus acts much as a camera does, choosing the direction of our gaze, the framework in which we see things. Both voice and focus are generally considered together in the term point of view. To understand how a story is narrated, you need to recognize both voice and focus. These in turn shape what we know and care about as the plot unfolds, and they determine how close we feel to each character. (174)
Simply put, point of view has to do with who the narrator in a story is. Narrators may be:
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Types of Point of View or Narration
There are three types of point of view:
First person: This is when the narrator uses “I” or “we”. Mostly considered as unreliable narrator
Second person: This technique has the effect of turning the reader into a character in the story. It is ideal for instructional manuals or a process essay on “how-to”.
Third person: the narrator is not a character in the story and it does not participate in the action. Refers to all characters using the pronouns he, she, or they. This is preferred for academic writing.
Point of view, as Mays argues, “varies according to the narrator’s position in the story and the grammatical person (for example, first or third) the narrative voice assumes.” Consequently, she says: “These elements determine who is telling the story, whom it is about, and what information the reader has access to” (174-175).
Herein lies the “question of authority”!
Of authority in relation to types of points of view
• First person – “I” (Gwynn 16)
• Provides sense of immediacy than the third person
• Limitation: Narrator must be present at all times and must know what is going on – not reliable
• Third person – “He, She, They or Cheryl” (Gwynn 16)
• Nonparticipant, but all knowing (omniscience)
• Never reveals sources, capable of moving from place to place to describe action and report dialogue – Reliable
Note: Second person point of view (you) is not desirable as a narrator.
Types of Narrator
According to Kennedy and Gioia, there are two types:
• Participant Narrator – First person) (27)
• Nonparticipant Narrator – Third person (27): Third person is preferred for academic writing
• All knowing!
Types of Omniscience
• Total omniscience
• Knows everything about characters’ lives and may reveal the thoughts of characters.
• Editorial point of view (authorial intrusion)
• All of the above + commenting directly on action
• Limited Omniscience – very flexible and combines elements of 1st (immediacy) and 3rd (mobility)
• Limited omniscience
• Selective omniscience
Note: Method of central intelligence: Limited to the thoughts and perception of a single character
• Dramatic point of view / objective point of view (Gwynn17)
• Reports dialogue and action with minimal interpretation
• No delving into characters’ minds
• Approximates the experience of reading a play
• Motivation are based solely on external evidence
• Plural point of view (Gwynn 17)
• Difficult to manage
• Distracting to readers
• Avoid it!
Third person point of view is preferred for academic writing. Editorial point of view, mostly.
Avoid shifts in perspective: Do not shift perspective from one person (such as first person, I) to another (such as second person, you) without realizing what happened. In other words, if you start writing from a first person perspective, stay there – and the same with the second-person and third-person perspectives. Otherwise, your writing will become unclear.