Point of View and Narration

        As you begin to analyze any work of literature, be certain you understand how to determine and demonstrate point of view in narration.  This is sometimes obvious, as when David Copperfield or Holden Caulfield or Jane Eyre speak directly to us and name themselves.  If that is the case, you can assume their prejudices and knowledge shape the narrative they give you.  Even then, however, authors have to work hard to make sure their first-person character-narrators do not accidentally possess knowledge of events they could not have witnessed, themselves.  When the narrator is not named ("On the Quai...," "Cat...," "A Very Short Story," you must take care to determine who the narrator might be.  Do not assume the narrator is "third-person omniscient," which is a narrator who can and does enter the minds of any character, and who is not a character, her-/himself.   Look for evidence that one of the characters' voices is being reproduced, including the character's thoughts that are never spoken aloud in the narrative.  Pay attention to quotation marks.  Notice characters whose thoughts and feelings, their "subjectivities," are not accessible to the narrator.  They are characters whose behaviors and speech are the only sign we have of what they might feel (e.g., "George" in "Cat...").  If you can identify a single character whose psychology is determining not only what is being reported, but also how it is being interpreted within the story, you have much more evidence for a Psych interpretation.  You also will prevent misreadings caused by assuming as "true" everything that is reported from a character with a psychologically active point of view.  Narrators who are characters can make mistakes, assume things they have no evidence for, feel inappropriately, etc.  That can be important evidence, but only if you realize you must "read against" such a narrator to realize what is wrong with what s/he says.