Point Of View: Who Is The Narrator?

Read an excellent explanation about POINT OF VIEW written by Cindy Greg from Edhelper.

“Many times a teacher will ask her students, “Is this story written from the first person or third person point of view?” The point of view (POV) is the vantage point or the “angle” from which a story is told.

When a story is written “in the first-person,” the narrator, or the person telling the story, is one of the characters in the story. The narrator uses the pronouns “I” and “we.” A first-person narrator can only tell what he or she sees, hears, is told, or believes. The reader only knows what this character is thinking or feeling and can only find out what other characters think or feel from what the narrator sees. Since the narrator is within the story, the reader finds things out when the narrator does. By using a first-person point of view, the reader is drawn into the story.

If a story is written “in the third-person,” the narrator is outside the story. The narrator uses words like “they,” “he,” or “she” to describe the characters. He has no insights into characters’ feelings or thoughts.

The difference between first-person and third-person POV is like the difference between actually playing baseball and watching someone else play. A first-person narrator is the person doing the action. A story about a baseball game told in first-person narrative tells the reader what one player saw, heard, thought, and felt as he played the game. The reader will know the pressure the ballplayer felt as he went up to bat. The reader will know the ballplayer’s excitement, fears, and worries. A third-person POV can only tell you what someone watching a player saw or heard.

An omniscient narrator (third-person) knows everything and sees everything, even some things that no character in the story knows or sees. He can reveal the thoughts of any character. He can describe any event, even one that none of the characters in the story knows about. He may offer opinions or judgments about other characters. An example of this third-person viewpoint is the Lemony Snicket book series. It has an omniscient narrator.

An objective narrator gives only the facts. He offers no judgments or opinions. This is sometimes referred to as “the fly on the wall” point of view. An objective third-person narrator has only one viewpoint. He doesn’t offer opinions about what other characters think or know. Newspaper articles are usually written with an objective third-person narrative.

A limited narrator reveals the thoughts of just one character. The story’s events are told as that character sees them. He doesn’t know what other characters think, feel, or know.

Is there a second-person point of view? Yes, but it is not used as often. When a story is written with a second-person point of view, the narrator is talking to “you.” Self-help books or guidebooks are sometimes written from the second-person point of view. An example you might know is the children’s book How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman. This book is a series of commands: “First get all the ingredients at the market. Mix them well, bake, and serve.” The author is talking directly to you, telling you what to do. The first chapter of Winnie the Pooh is also a second-person narrative:”

Here is another site that has a great explanation. Read on and be prepared to answer some of my questions in class today.


One more great site:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s