Style Analysis: point of view

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Style Analysis: POINT OF VIEW


  • Point of view (perspective)  the way in which an author chooses to present an essay, story, or other piece of writing
    • First-person narrator
    • Third-person limited narrator
    • Third-person omniscient narrator

Types of p.o.v.

  • First-person  used when one of the characters tells the story and speaks as “I”, an eyewitness [I, me, my]
  • Third-person limited  when we see the story from only one character’s p.o.v. but not first-hand
  • Third-person omniscient  when the p.o.v. is all-knowing, not restricted in any way [look for phrases and sentences that describe the emotions, feelings, and reactions of the characters]

Group Practice:

  • Read “The Rattler” (again )
  • Identify the point of view
  • With a different color pen or highlighter from what you used for the diction and detail analyses, circle, underline, or highlight phrases that show the point of view (see my example to get you started)

P.O.V. Paragraph: Topic Sentence

  • The sentence should include the phrase point of view and give a focus for the paragraph.
  • The first-person point of view reinforces the drama and tension in the scene.

P.O.V. Paragraph: Concrete Detail Sentence

  • You will write one example sentence with words and phrases you have circled, underlined, or highlighted.
  • You need to include two or three quotations that illustrate the point of view:
  • At the beginning of the story, the man says, “I stopped short”; he wants to let the snake escape because he “never killed an animal” he didn’t have to.

P.O.V. Paragraph: Commentary Sentences

  • These two sentences following the CD should discuss the reason for the point-of-view and the effect on the reader. IDEAS TO CONSIDER:
  • First-person  the reader can feel the same emotions as narrator, a sense of immediacy; the reader acts in unison with the narrator.
  • Third-person limited  the reader feels a sense of distance from others and, in addition, is limited to one perspective; the narrower view of subject may be biased in only one direction; the narrative distance may be useful, done on purpose by the author.
  • Third-person omniscient  the reader feels more distant than with first person but also has a wider, more panoramic view of the subject; the reader knows everything that an outside observer could know.

Sample Analysis for “The Rattler”

  • Quotation
  • “I stopped short”
  • “Never killed an animal [he] didn’t have to”
  • Commentary
  • Caught off-guard
  • Sudden shock at the unexpected
  • Both man and reader feel reluctant to act

Sample P.O.V. Paragraph (handout)

  • {Notice what we’re doing here: we looking at this situation through the eyes of the narrator so we are able to feel what he is feeling; that is what we are speaking to—how would it have been different with third-person?}
  • The first-person point of view reinforces the drama and tension in the scene. At the beginning of the story, the man says, “I stopped short”; he wants to let the snake escape because he “never killed an animal” he didn’t have to. The reader and the man feel a sudden shock at the presence of another living creature in the isolated desert. Both freeze, suggesting the man’s understandable and immediate reluctance to attack it and recognizing his desire to ignore the snake. The man’s duty is clear, however, and after he “[reaches] in the bush” to kill the snake, he “does not cut the rattles off”; he thinks for a moment that he “could see him as [he] might have let him go.” The reader shudders at the feeling of the hoe striking home but at the same time feels the narrator’s appreciation and moment of silence at the end. This reinforcement of first-person narration shows the last farewell to the snake, a final moment of respect. The narrator bids goodbye and acknowledges the tragic end to a duel between equals.

Paired Practice: Madame Bovary Passage by Gustave Flaubert

  • Read the passage
  • Identify the tone(s)
  • Underline, circle, or highlight the point of view phrases in the passage
  • Discuss/chart quotations and commentary
  • Discuss sample paragraph

Independent Practice: The Scarlet Letter passage

  • Read the passage.
  • Identify the subject and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s attitude(s) towards it.
  • Identify the point of view for the passage and then annotate it again to find point of view phrases.
  • Write a (1) a 3-sentence tone paragraph and (2) a two-chunk paragraph that analyzes what we (the reader) see as a result of Hawthorne’s choice of point of view: what are the effects? How are his tones revealed?
  • Blue/black ink, preferably typed.

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