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Forms of presentation: narration


The sequence of events, character collisions may be represented in a variety of ways: through narration, description, dialogue, and characterization, which are the basic forms of presentation.



Narration is the presentation of events in their development. The narration may be done in the first person (the narrator combines two functions: that of a character of a story and that of the narrator) and in the third person (the narrator does not take part in the events).

Point of View is quite simply, who is telling the story, who is describing and commenting on the events. All literature must be narrated or recorded by someone, and an author must decide who that someone will be. The decision is an important one, since the selection of a narrator determines the perspective, or point of view, from which the story will be told, as well as the amount and kind of information the reader will be given. Once the author has chosen the point of view, he/she must then convey it to the reader and keep it consistent from beginning to end. Many writers use the protagonist (the main character) as the point of view. Others create an impartial character to narrate the story or use multiple narrators. In discussing literature, it is most common to examine the following points of view.


First Person Narrator: A character in the story who speaks in the first person voice. The first person narrator is a character in the story who can reveal his or her feelings and thoughts, or information that has been directly received by other characters. The first person narrator speaks in the first person, i.e. in the “I” voice, saying “I saw…”, “I knew…”, “I realized…”, etc. Information is limited to what the point of view character/narrator sees, hears, thinks, experiences, and feels. First person allows the reader to feel an emotional connection with the main character/narrator that is difficult to achieve with other points of view. It can result in some powerful and emotionally charged scenes.


First person point of view is divided into the following categories:


· Subjective Narrator. The point of view character gives his/her thoughts and feelings along with the events in the story.

· Objective Narrator. The point of view character tells the events only without including his/her reactions to them.

· Multiple Narrators. First person accounts by several characters.


Third Person Narrator: third person is perhaps the most common point of view. It allows the writer more freedom than any of the other points of view. It provides the most information to the reader but does so in an impersonal way which may lessen the emotional impact.


There are three basic types of third person narrators:

Third Person Objective Narrator: A narrator, who is not a character in the story, speaks in the third person voice and can tell only what is observable through the five senses. The third person objective narrator is not a character in the story. The third person objective narrator refers to all characters in the third person, i.e. tells the story in the “he/she/it” voice, saying “He looked…”, “She jumped…”, etc. They are only able to make objective observations, however they have no knowledge of what is going on in the mind of the characters, or anything else that would not be observable to the reader if they were to enter the story. In other words, they describe what the characters say or do without offering information on the characters thoughts, feelings or reactions.


Third Person Omniscient Narrator: A narrator, who is not a character in the story, speaks in the third person voice and can tell the thoughts and feelings of characters within the story. Like the third person objective narrator, the third person omniscient narrator speaks in the third person and is not a character in the story. Unlike the third person objective narrator, however, the third person omniscient narrator has knowledge of the thoughts and feelings of all characters in the story.

Third Person Limited Narrator: A narrator is not a character in the story, speaks in the third person voice and can describe the thoughts and feelings of only one character in the story (usually the main one). This narrator is similar to first person in that the information is presented primarily through the eyes of one character. For example, a sentence from a story in the third person limited may read, “As she waited on the corner, she remembered the last time she had seen him”.



Exercise 1.

Read the following ways of describing an event (a — e). Then match them with the five points of view listed below (1 — 5).


A) Mary Evans was driving home. There had been problems at the office again that day. And at home, the behavior of her husband, Nick, had changed recently. Suddenly a man stepped out in front of the car. Mary braked, but the car hit the man and he fell to the ground. The blood drained from Mary’s face, and she sat motionless behind the steering-wheel. A woman ran over and shouted to her through the window, but she didn’t reply.


b) I was walking home along Seymour Road. The evening was fine, and I was looking forward to dinner at my local restaurant. Suddenly I heard a screech of brakes and looked around. I recognized Mary Evans’s car, and saw a man in front of it, and then heard the horrible thud of body against car. I ran over. Mary had gone completely white. I shouted “Mary! Mary!” through the window, but she was obviously in a state of shock, and didn’t seem to recognize me at all.


C) Mary Evans was driving home after yet another difficult day. Doubts and fears about her job and her marriage tormented her. Her worries were well founded: her boss was increasingly dissatisfied with her work, and more importantly, her husband, Nick, was thinking of leaving her. Suddenly a man on the pavement, lost in worries of his own, stepped into the road without looking. Mary braked hard, but too late. The man was knocked to the ground. Mary’s friend, Anna, who was passing, ran over to her, but Mary was too shocked to speak or even think.


d) Mary Evans was driving home, wondering what to do about the problems that had come up at the office that day, and her boss’s obvious displeasure. And Nick, her husband, how would he behave when she got home? If only she knew why he was behaving so strangely! Suddenly there was a man in front of the car. Instinctively, her foot pushed hard on the brake. The man’s terrified face appeared in front of her for an instant, then disappeared again. Everything seemed to go blank. From what seemed a million miles away, someone was calling her name.


E) It had been another awful day at the office, one problem after another, and my boss criticizing me all the time. And I wasn’t looking forward to my evening very much either. My husband, Nick, had been acting strangely all week — I really worry about losing him. I just wasn’t thinking about my driving, and the next thing I knew there was a man right in front of me. I remember braking, but it was too late — there was nothing I could do. I can’t remember any more.


1. first-person narrator: a minor character in the story

2. first-person narrator: a main character in the story

3. third-person narrator: omniscient

4. third-person narrator: objective

5. third-person narrator: limited


Exercise 2.

Choose one of the following moments. Imagine who is there and what happens. Choose a point of view and narrate the scene in 5 — 10 sentences.

1. an hour later, Mary at the hospital;

2. Mary at home, later that evening;

3. Mary at the police station;

4. any other moment from how you think the plot may develop.




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