NARRATION.

TYPES OF NARRATION What the reader thinks and feels will depend upon how the author allows him or her to see what is going on. The author is controlling the reader’s viewpoint. Various kinds of narration help him to do so. The way authors relate events to readers is called narration. Novelists use different way of telling their stories: they use different characters to tell the stories (narrators) and present the events from different ‘angles’ (from different points of view). First - person narrator. The story is told by an “I”, who may be the main character in the novel or a minor character in the novel, an observer of events that happen to others. (Example of this is Nick in S. Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”, etc.). There are some aspects of the first-person narration that are very important for readers. • We feel very close to the narrator because we have access to the narrator’s mind and feelings. Empathy - putting oneself in someone else’s place - is something we are enable to experience in the first-person narration. • Seeing into the heart and mind of the narrator allows the author to explore mental growth and change. • We can know the world from a viewpoint other than our own. It may be that this is one of the attractions of the first-person narration. When we follow a character through his or her life we can see how they adjust to the experience. It’s sometimes said that we know a first-person narrator better than any other characters. This is often the case, but it’s not always true. There are some characters presented through the third-person narrator whom we know very well. This is particularly true of the novels of G. Eliot and H. James. Third-person narration. In the novels written in the third person two main points of view are normally used: the omniscient point of view and the limited point of view. The omniscient point of view means that the narrator knows everything about the events and the characters and knows all their thoughts and motives. But how much of all this does the narrator choose to reveal? There is a lot of room for variety here. These are the two extremes but there are possible variations in between: intrusive objective narrator <~~~~~~~~> (or unintrusive) An intrusive narrator explicitly tells the reader things, commenting on the characters. An objective narrator simply shows things, without commenting or explaining: he is more like a camera. The limited point of view means that, although the narrator tells the story in the third person, he confines himself to the impressions and feelings of one character in the novel: he presents only one point of view of events. The effect of this can be similar to that created by a first-person narrator. Multiple narrators and multiple points of view. Very often authors ( specially modern ones) experiment with the various effects produced by different narrators and points of view. This reflects typically twentieth century concerns: the complex nature of reality; the decline of belief in absolute truth; fascination with psychological analysis; a belief in

the importance of individual experience and opinion.

The Narrator or WHO ARE YOU? AND WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME THIS? A crucial element of any work of fiction is the NARRATOR, the person who is telling the story (note that this isn't the same as the AUTHOR, the person who actually wrote the story). The first major distinction critics make about narrators is by person: a FIRST PERSON narrator is an "I" (occasionally a "we") who speaks from her/his subject position. That narrator is usually a character in the story, who interacts with other characters; we see those interactions through the narrator's eyes, and we can't know anything the narrator doesn't know. a SECOND PERSON narrator speaks in "you." This is an extremely rare case in American literature. a THIRD PERSON narrator is not a figure in the story, but an "observer" who is outside the action being described. A third-person narrator might be omniscient (ie, able to tell what all the characters are thinking), but that is not always the case. Third-person narration may also be focalized through a particular character, meaning that the narrator tells us how that character sees the world, but can't, or at least doesn't, read the mind of all the characters this way. There are other things we need to know about the narrator, especially since the narrator may be very different from the author, and because the more we know about the narrator the better situated we are to understand and analyze what s/he is telling us. When a narrator is one of the characters in the story, it's usually fairly easy to pin down some information about her/him, because you "see" the character. But you can also get to know third-person narrators. When you read, think about what clues you're given about the identity of the narrator. You may be able to pin down specific aspects of the narrator's identity (age, region, religion, race, gender, etc.) even if they are NOT explicitly stated in the text. For example, if the narrator says "Ethel put the pop in a sack and handed it to the customer," that narrator is not from the same region of the country as a person or character who would say "Ethel put the soda in a bag and handed it to the customer." If the narrator addresses older characters as Mr. or Mrs. and younger characters by first name, you may be able to gauge how old the narrator is — who are her/his elders, contemporaries, etc.? Sometimes you can detect prejudices on the part of the narrator that will affect how reliable you think that narrator is. If a narrator says, "They passed a greasy hippy on their way out," it's fair to assume the narrator is not a fan of counter-culture, and that may well shape your reading. Moving beyond the personal characteristics of the narrator, think about how to gauge her/his role as the teller of the tale. Is the narrator reliable or unreliable? Is the narrator telling you everything s/he knows? What limits does the narrator have, in terms of what s/he can perceive? We'll read some stories with crazy narrators, or stupid narrators, or narrators who just don't seem to know what they're talking about. Think about how much AUTHORITY your narrator has to relate the events of the story, and what it means if that authority seems limited. Once you've figured out who is telling the story, think about why s/he is telling it. Is this a confession? An act of bragging? A moralistic lesson? Remember, you're not focusing here on why the author wrote the story, but why this fictional narrator is choosing to tell it. It may help to consider the narratee as well. Types of Narrative Point of View--from Moffett and McElheny 1. Interior Monologue -- 1st person, train of thought or stream of consciousness 2. Dramatic Monologue -- 1st person, narrator speaking to someone else; reader "overhears" 3. Letter Narration -- 1st person, narrator writing a letter 4. Diary Narration -- 1st person, narrator writing diary entries 5. Subjective Narration-- 1st person, narrator seems unreliable, tries to get us to share their side, or assume values or views we don't share. 6. Detached Autobiography -- 1st person, narrator is reliable, guides reader. Narrator is main character, often reflecting on a past "self." 7. Memoir or Observer Narration -- 1st person, narrator is observer rather than main participant; narrator can be confident, eye-witness or "chorus" (provides offstage or background information); Narrator can be reliable or unreliable. 8. Anonymous or Omniscient Narration, Single Character Point of View -- 3rd person narrator is generally reliable; narrator is omniscient and ubiquitous in terms of knowing all about ONE character in the story; story presented from one character's vantage point. 9. Anonymous or Omniscient Narration, Dual Character Point of View -- 3rd person, generally reliable narrator presents inner life of two characters; knows all there is to know about these two characters. 10. Anonymous or Omniscient Narration, Multiple Character Point of View -- 3rd person narrator presents inner life, thoughts, actions of several characters

11. Anonymous or Omniscient Narration, No Character Point of View -- 3rd person narrator, generally reliable, stays OUT of minds of characters; presents story in eyewitness or "chorus" account; narrator is not a confident, does not present characters' thoughts.