Examining Perspective in Literature
When writing literature, authors will adapt points of view to mold the perceptions of their readers. Three points of view that authors use to draw readers into their works of fiction are the limited perspective, the first-person perspective, and the objective perspective. Three stories will be examined and critiqued for their use of these narrative techniques. Of the three perspectives that will be examined, the first-person perspective is the most useful for sharing the authors’ vision.
Authors employing the first person point of view give readers the broadest exposure to the feeling(s), opinion(s), and position(s) that writers attempt to communicate via their narration. The story, “A&P” by John Updike related the short story of a teenage employee at the beginning of a period of social upheaval and recharacterization of gender roles. The setting for the story was a sleepy inland coastal town during 1962. Sammy, the teenaged protagonist and narrator, provided a clear lens for the perspective that the author presented. The viewpoint of this narrator related to his adolescent need for romantic nobility and his incipient role defiance. The faux noble protagonist attempted to defend three bikini-clad adolescent girls whom defied the implicit taboo regarding exposure of flesh outside of the prescribed boundaries that was understood to be in effect. The narration accounted by the first-person narrator was well-developed and gave descriptive familiar language that built a distinct voice for the narrator, Sammy. The author gave sufficient background information within the story to construct a realistic causality framework for the plot setting. By the author installing the reader as an observer of his hero’s thoughts, feelings, and actions, the author provided the reader with the opportunity to share the narrator’s experience.
The use of a limited perspective does not give as detailed an understanding of the narrator’s perspective. An excellent example of the limitations of this point of view is demonstrated in “The Cask of Amontillado” written by Edgar Allen Poe. The narrator and anti-hero, Montresor, had a very limited voice due to the author’s minimalist construction of the narrator. The author limited his readers’ understanding by drawing a perspective that included only the narrator’s actions. While the narrator acted as a villain in the story’s context, Montresor’s lack of convincing feeling and his confused description of the supposed crimes of his foil, Fortunato, made Montresor’s motives murky to the reader. On the other hand, the author provided a vibrant colorful voice to the foil of the story, Fortunato. Also, Mr. Poe gave sufficient background development to Fortunato to make the foil a sympathetic character to his readers. While the action of the story was well accounted by the author, the narrator’s dialogue was...