Point of View in Literature

Point of View

Point of view is the perspective from which a story is told. An author chooses an angle of perspective to share experience.

“People forget that there’s always two sides to every story. Of course somebody is going to tell the side of it that makes them look good and exaggerate the rest to make everyone else look bad.”

– David Reeves

A story can be told according to three perspectives:

  • A First-person Point of View. Here the narrator gives the reader a perspective that is through the eyes, ears, thoughts, and feeling of the narrator. Look for for words such as: I saw, I feel, I heard, I passed… The narrator gives a first hand experience. What you should consider is whether the story is complete, if there is information missing, or if the narrator is telling all he should tell.
  • A Second-person Point of View. Here the narrative belongs to the person being addressed, the reader. It is implied that the reader is a character in the story and the events are happening to the reader. The author uses the second-person pronoun: you, yours, yourself, yourselves. This perspective is not so common. You would get them a lot in commercials though.
  • A Third-person Limited Point of View. Here the author tells the story through the perspective of one of the characters in the story. That character is observing the events, all that is happening and the main character. The thing about the second-person point of view is that the story is told from a perspective where not all the details may be told because the character may not have notice some things. The narrator relates the events of the story using such: he thing, she feels, he hears.
  • A Third-person Omniscient Point of View. Here author is assume to be all-knowing and wants to tell the story from a number of characters. The Omniscient perspective gives the author insight into all the characters. The author relates the story using such: he/she feels, he/she things, etc.

In-Class Activities

Activity 1

You have to learn how to analyze fiction from any one of these perspectives. Consider how the event was told, who is telling the story, the type of details given,

Consider the point of view to tell this story. Choose a perspective, and write in one paragraph an account of what is happening. Tell why you would choose such a perspective. Share your writing.

Activity 2

Here are some readings to analyze. In a sheet write the point of view the account was given: first-person, second-person, third-person limited, or third-person omniscient. Then share your thought on each passage.

Passage 1:

There was a boy in my class at La Sieva’s Elementary School, who never went to cricket games. He spent his Saturday afternoons searching for bugs in his mother’s garden and his evening in a tent looking up at the stars. Lately, now that he is in Secondary school, he has discovered cricket players and is collecting cards with the players images at the back of each. I must tell tell you of that unsettling spectacle he once witnessed.

Passage 2:

Brian reveled in cricket, as an audience, an amateur player and foiled participant. At one time, after a terrific game, he came in to lunch and the school stood up and clapped. The visiting coach shook hands with him and prophesied – incorrectly – that he was going to be heard from. Brian could never forget that year. That was the year he grew very tall and thin, and he realized that that his dream was about to be over because the visiting coach never called.

Passage 3:

It was the twentieth family day. Garth, Marvin, Joel and Jason called themselves the “The Tug of War Buddies”. Anyway, Garth knew the whole time that he had to keep reminding the other boys to keep practicing their stance for the main event, the Tug of War. Garth spoke eagerly every moment he had, reminding the rest of the boy about the great event. War was in the air and he felt the other boy were not taking the game seriously.

Marvin, on the other hand, was being extra talkative on the subject in Jason’s backyard. He knew it would be difficult this year for there was a new boy in school. He was big, strong and bulky. “I know he can single-handedly beat us, Jason.” Marvin moaned, making Jason more worried than before. They both knew they could not lose their long-standing name as “The Tug of War Buddies”. Above all they really wanted the golden statue this year. They were of age to get it . The two boys did not know that Garth had a brilliant plan under his sleeve.

Passage 4:

After the SEA examinations in June, Duke Lee and five other boys from St. Regis School boarded the bus. Two got out ten minutes later, one slanted south toward a shopping area and the other towards his home. The other three boy stayed until they arrive at the end of the street. Duke Lee stayed with his parents in the street with a dead-end. For the first time in a long time he felt the need for tranquility. He took long breaths and thought, though things had gone better toward the end, he had had an unhappy year at school.

Passage 5:

I spent the afternoon in my bedroom, walking back and forth and avoiding my family. I had bought Forrest Fenn’s book called “The Trill of the Chase,” and at five o’clock in the evening had read the book cover to cover. I felt I could find the treasure that was described in the book and so I decided to direct my ambitions into finding the hidden treasure in the mountain.

Passage 6:

You are Margaret Terrence, the fourteen year old, serious about school and love to play doll house with your little sister. Last year, your family moved to the city, and you have been struggling to get a best friend. Your mom picks you up every day after school, but today she notices that your brightness seems a bit subdue. Your mom has questions, and you know she will start the discussion once dinner is served at home.