Stories are often told by a narrator giving his/her point of view, by using
omniscient, limited omniscient, or first person. The purpose of the narrator is to give facts
and details, being reliable or not. Three stories we have read in class are "The Body," by
Stephen King, "Defender of the Faith," by Philip Roth, and "Everyday Use," by Alice
Walker; which give examples of a reliable narrator. Each narrator was a reliable source
of information, and told his/her story well.
Stephen King's. "The Body," was an excellent representation of first person point
of view narration. The main protagonist, Gordie, was not only the narrator but a major
character. Gordie told the story as an adult looking back on his childhood experiences.
He may not have remembered exactly what was said at the time, but he knew enough
information to relay an honest recollection. The reliability of a story's narrator depends
upon whether or not the reader can trust the information of the narrator. For example, "I
became acutely aware of all the noises inside me and outside me, like some crazy
orchestra tuning up to play. The steady thump of my heart, the bloodbeat in my ears like
a drum being played with brushes..." (King 358). I felt that these sentences made Gordie
more believable, because he acted more mature than the others. His thoughts ran deeper
than most twelve year olds, but it was believable. King had written this story with
stereotypical adolescent characters, but they ended up being less than ordinary. As the
narrator, Gordie gave his own feelings as well as giving the views of the other three. For
example, "Teddy's head shook without definition, unsure if this was true. Someone had
redefined his pain, and redefined it in shockingly common terms." (King 352). Gordie's
reliability is maintained during the entire story because of his innocence as a character.
There is no need for him to embellish the truth, because each event could be altered
slightly by one of the other characters.
"Defender of the Faith," by Philip Roth, is a story in which the narrator becomes
involved with the main protagonist of the story. This story is a good example of reliable
narration, in that,...