1. Types of narrators.
2. Narration: its types and forms of presentation.
The narrative method involves such aspects as
a) who narrates the story and
b) the way the narrator stands in relation to the events and to the other characters of the story.
The author can vary the narrative method depending on what he wants his readers to concentrate on. He can tell the story from the point of view of a character in the story, or from without – as an onlooker.
The author may choose four types of narrators:
1) the main character;
2) a miner character;
3) the omniscient author;
4) the observer-author.
1. When the main character tells his story, the events of the story are presented to the reader through his perception. The author in this case places himself in the position of the main character and tells of things that only the main character saw and felt.
2. When a minor character, who participates in the actions, narrates the story, the events are described through the perception of his character. The author places himself in the position of a minor character and gives this character’s version of the events and personages.
3. The author may narrate his story anonymously, analyzing and interpreting the character’s motives and feelings. The reader sees what is going on in the minds of all the characters. This type of narration is told by the omniscient (or analytic) author. The omniscient author reproduces the character’s thoughts and comments on their actions.
4. The story may be told in such a way that we are given the impression of witnessing the events as they happen – we see the actions and hear the conversations, but we never enter directly into the minds of any of the characters. In this case the reader is guided by the observer-author. The observer-author merely records the speech and actions of the characters without analyzing them.
2. In every story events are presented from somebody’s point of view. Hence, there are two types of narration – 1st person and 3rd person narration. When told by a character in the story, the story is the first-person narrative. When told by the author, it is the third-person narrative.
If the story is a 1st-person narrative, it is told from the narrator’s point of view and the reader gets a biased understanding of the events and the other characters, because he sees them through the perception of the character who narrates. At the same time any story always reveals the author’s point of view even if it is implied. The character’s and the author’s viewpoints may or may not coincide.
When the author shifts the responsibility of telling the story to the 1st-person narrator, he actually provides his reader with two versions of one and the same story:
1) the explicitly expressed subjective version (the narrator’s version) and
2) the implied objective version, which the skilled reader is expected to derive.
There are several advantages of these two methods.
1) the 1st-person narrative is a very effective means of revealing the personality of the character who narrates. The narrator tells what he thinks and feels, and the reader easily understands his motives, his nature.
2) These two narrative methods increase the credibility of the story. The narrator’s statements are backed by the narrator’s presence in the described events.
3) The story told by the 1st-person narrator is more confiding. The narrator often uses the informal tone, addresses the reader directly and establishes a personal relationship with him. The reader is treated by the 1st-person narrator trustfully.
However, the possibilities of the 1st-person narrator are limited because the narrator is a person, and he can see and hear only what would be possible for a person to see and hear in his situation. He cannot know what other characters do or say.
Sometimes such a narrator misinterprets the events which he cannot fully understand.