Unit 1: Fiction Point of View Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. —Virginia Woolf <skip intro> What is fiction? • Fiction is a genre, or category of literary composition, that includes any work of prose that tells an invented or imaginary story. What are the two main forms of fiction? • The two main forms of fiction are the short story and the novel. What are your favorite types of fiction? • • • • • • • • Realistic fiction Mystery Science fiction Romance Historical fiction Horror Fantasy Sports fiction What are the purposes of fiction? • To entertain readers • To enlighten readers by sharing the human experience • To provide readers with an escape from reality • To teach readers empathy • To help readers explore unknown worlds What are the five elements of fiction? • • • • • Plot Point of view Characters Setting Theme Point of View • Point of view is the vantage point or perspective from which a story is told. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. —Harper Lee How does the point of view that an author uses to tell a story affect your interpretation and understanding of the selection? Point of View • In fiction, the two most common types of point of view are – first-person point of view, in which the narrator is inside the story and involved in the plot and – third-person point of view, in which the narrator is outside the story and observes and comments on the characters and plot First-Person Point of View • In first-person point of view, the narrator – is a character in the story who witnesses or participates in the action – uses words like “I” and “we” in telling the story Example of First-Person Point of View Doodle told them it was I who had taught him to walk, so everyone wanted to hug me, and I began to cry. “What are you crying for?” asked Daddy, but I couldn’t answer. They did not know that I did it for myself; that pride, whose slave I was, spoke to me louder than all their voices, and that Doodle walked only because I was ashamed of having a crippled brother. —from “The Scarlet Ibis,” by James Hurst • What are the advantages and disadvantages of telling a story from the first-person point of view? Advantages Disadvantages Third-Person Point of View • In third-person point of view, the narrator – is someone who stands outside the action and observes – is not a character in the story – uses words like “he,” “she,” “it,” and “they” • Third-person point of view is the most common point of view used by writers. Third-Person Point of View • There are two variations of third-person point of view: – In third-person limited point of view, the thoughts and feelings of only the narrator or a single character are revealed. – In third-person omniscient point of view, the thoughts and feelings of all characters are revealed. Example of Third-Person Limited Point of View At daybreak Rainsford, lying near the swamp, was awakened by a sound that made him know that he had new things to learn about fear. It was a distant sound, faint and wavering, but he knew it. It was the baying of a pack of hounds. Rainsford knew he could do one of two things. He could stay where he was and wait. That was suicide. He could flee. That was postponing the inevitable. For a moment he stood there, thinking. An idea that held a wild chance came to him, and, tightening his belt, he headed away from the swamp. —from “The Most Dangerous Game,” by Richard Connell • What are the advantages and disadvantages of telling a story from the third-person limited point of view? Advantages Disadvantages Example of Third-Person Omniscient Point of View Mr. Pan was worried about his mother. He had been worried about her when she was • in China, and now he was worried about her in New York, although he had thought that once he got her out of his ancestral village of Szechuen and safely away from the local bullies, who took over when the distant government fell, his anxieties would be ended. …It soon became clear, however, that safety was not enough for old Mrs. Pan. She did not even appreciate the fact, which he repeated again and again, that had she remained in the village, she would now have been dead… —from “The Good Deed,” by Pearl S. Buck • What are the advantages and disadvantages of telling a story from the third-person omniscient point of view? Advantages Disadvantages Second-Person Point of View • In second-person point of view, the narrator – tells a story by positioning readers within the story as the main character – addresses readers directly, by using the word “you” • Second-person point of view is rarely used in fiction. • What are the advantages and disadvantages of telling a story from the second-person point of view? Advantages Disadvantages Reliability of the Narrator • No matter what point of view is used in a story, readers must determine if the narrator is reliable or unreliable. Reliable Narrator • A reliable narrator – has a credible (believable) voice in a story – tries to remain objective in telling a story – makes a connection with readers by interpreting events accurately – has values and motivations that are similar to those of readers – gains the trust of readers Unreliable Narrator • An unreliable narrator – has an incredible (unbelievable) voice in the story – struggles to remain objective in telling the story – fails to make a connection with readers because he or she misinterprets events – has values and motivations that may differ from those of readers – may appear suspect to readers SUMMARY: Determining Point of View • To determine the point of view of a story, ask yourself the following questions: – Who is telling the story? • Is this person a character in the story? • Is more than one perspective presented? – Does the narrator comment on the events of the story, or simply present them? – Does the narrator seem unbiased and trustworthy? – How might the story be different if told from another character’s point of view?