Point of View
What Is Point of View?
Point of view is the perspective point from which a writer narrates or tells a story, or point of view is the relationship of the narrator or storyteller to the story.
Every story is certainly told by someone that usually called a narrator. Point of view is a device for narrator to indicate the position from which an action is observed and narrated. An author of a fiction must choose a point ofview from which he will narrate his story.
According to Peck (1994:68), point of view is a technique that is used by the author to find and tell the meaning of his literary work to the readers. The author expects that the readers can accept his technique. Point of view has psychological connection to the readers, and the readers need clear perception about the point of view.
Point of view can be divided in to first-person point of view, second person point of view, third-person point of view, omniscient and limited omniscient point of view .
First-Person Point of View
First-person point of view is the use of first person as narrator of a story.
In first-person point of view, the narrator:
- is involved in the story as a character
- knows and can tell only what he or she thinks, sees and feels
- may be reliable and trustworthy or an unreliable narrator
First-person point of view is marked by pronoun I, me, my, mine, we, us, and ours. The “I” has a name, but the name is rarely called, because he is telling his experience himself. The name of the “I” perhaps called in the other character. In this point of view the narrator only knows about himself.
Example of 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
Second-Person Point of View
In second-person point of view the narrator is telling the story of another character, and that character is “you.”. This point of view treats the reader as the main character in the story. Descriptions are based on what you would see if you were in that situation. This narrative voice is generally reserved for explanatory articles and how-to books, but adventurous writers will occasionally pen a short story or novel in the second person. This is not common in fiction as it involves the reader so directly and can feel too intimate.
As you walk up the hill, you realize that the atmosphere’s just too quiet. There’s no sound from the cardinal you know is almost always singing from the top of the maple tree. You think you see a shadow move high up on the slope, but when you look again it’s gone. You shudder as you feel a silent threat pass over you. You feel cold, like a cloud just passed over the sun.
Third-Person Point of View
In the third-person point of view, the narrator is an outsider to the story who reports the events of the story to the reader. The narrator refer to the characteristic either by name or by the pronouns he, she, they, her, him and them.
The name of characters, especially main characters is called continuously. So the readers are easier to know who the characters are.
When the Saclaloses arrived at the new house, it was late afternoon. They’d been driving for five hours, and they were all hot and sticky. When the car crunched to a stop, they just sat there, drowsy and disoriented.
“So here it is,” said Peter Saclalos, slapping his hands to his legs. “Our new house.”
Amy wearily peeled the stereo headset off her ears and looked around. “No point in getting excited,” she whispered to herself. They’d moved five times in the past two years. She hated moving, but complaining got her nowhere. She sighed, her face a mask of boredom.
John got out of the car first. His face was blank. He felt sick to his stomach.
“So, what do you think?” asked Mr. Saclalos. “Not bad, huh? There’s lots of space,
that’s for sure. You’ll have your own bedroom this time.”
John just shrugged and looked away.
Third-person point of view can be divided in to two: third-person omniscient point of view and third-person limited omniscient point of view.
Third-Person Omniscient Point of View
In the third-person omniscient point of view, the narrator is all-knowing. The narrator:
- knows and can tell what any character is thinking and feeling
- tells thought and fellings of more than one character
- plays no part in the story
- knows what is happening in all of the story’s settings
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
How can we tell that this excerpt is written from the third-person-limited point of view? Because the narrator knows the thoughts of all three characters.
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
- is limited to ne character
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
The narrator knows the thoughts of only one character.
Is it possible in a story or literary work has more than one point of view?
Answer: Yes it is. In a story might be has one point of view, it ussually called mixed point of view or multiple point of view.
Mixed point of view
A novel may use more than one point of view. The author can change the point of view from one technique to another in a story that he made. All of them depend on the author creativity, how he uses the technique to reach effectiveness of telling the story in order to give an impression to the readers. The use of this point of view in a novel maybe as the third person with technique “He” as omniscient person and “He” as observer or first person with technique “I” as main character and ”I” as a peripheral character, or maybe a mixture of first person and third person at all one.
PDF file “The Intrisic Elements of Literature”
PPT file “Point of View”