Short Stories: Analyzing the point of view.

In literature the point of view depends on the narrator and it is essential to the development of the story. The perspective form which the author choses to tell the story influences the way the reader perceives the story. The way the narrator itself approaches the situation and the information that is revealed to the reader play a crucial role in the understanding of the story. In the stories “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “A Rose for Emily” and “Sonny’s Blues” we encounter three different points of view, each one of them give a different meaning to the story itself. However, they all have in common the aspect of a narrator that takes the place of the main character in the story. 

In Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” it is obvious, as the story begins, that the narrator is speaking about himself. “True! –nervous­– very, very, dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?” says the narrator, revealing that the point of view is in person and that he is the main character of the story. In this case it works for the main character, the killer, to be telling the story because as we submerge in to the story we also go deeper into his own head, and at the end when we hear the beating of the heart parallel to the police officers laughing, we get the real image of his insanity. Told from someone else’s point of view it wouldn’t create the same effect of confessing the murder and being so anxious about them laughing because we wouldn’t have heard his guilt personalized as the beating heart. Being in his head allows us to follow his thought process and understand why he confesses the murder when he was about to get away with it. 

Poe gives us a character that right away reveals himself, while in the two other stories “A Rose for Emily” and “Sonny’s Blues” we seem to have a story outside from the narrator, like the narrator is merely a witness. However, in both cases the narrator could be taken as the main character of the story. It is easy to see Sonny’s brother as the main character if we pay attention to how he tells Sonny’s story. It is not so much about what happened to Sonny but about what happened to Sonny’s brother. His own angers, regrets and fears because as he tells Sonny’s story he reveals himself to us. It is not as clear as the case of Poe, because in this case, the brother tells the story mirroring his life with Sonny’s. He appears to be a witness by telling Sonny’s story but that is not the real story behind it, it is his own life. 

            The case of “A Rose for Emily’ is one that almost seems obvious that the story is about Emily and how her life when downhill, but if we analyze it the way we did with “Sonny’s Blues” we can actually find that it might not be about Emily at all. We have a narrator who’s name we don’t know and the same time, who shifts from singular to plural quite often, making it unclear whether it is one person or the whole town. Nevertheless, we do have a narrator that reveals itself as it tells Emily’s story. It is not so much about what Emily did, but how they (the town) reacted to it, how they felt about it, what they thought of her, who they relate to her, etc., in a way Emily’s behavior becomes an excuse to their own behavior. It works to have the story be told from the perspective of the town because it is telling us about the town as community (their beliefs, ideals, traditions, development) more than it is telling us about Emily. 

The three stories have a narrator that represents the main character in a different depth, we go from personal experience (a story that develops in the narrator’s head) to a faraway person (a story that happens outside the narrator). However, the three of them tell us the own narrator’s story, who they are, how they feel, and how they interact with the circumstances around them. 

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