Sunday, October 28, 2012

Point of View - First Person Minor Character (Oblique)

In the last two posts we talked about two relatively common forms of First Person point of view. In the first, the main character tells the story. In the second a secondary, but still important, character does. These are fairly common, but, sometimes, a story can be told from what is called the "Oblique" point of view by a minor character particularly one who does not have any significant impact on the events in the story. For instance, in To Kill a Mockingbird the story is told by Scout, a young girl who doesn't understand most of what she reports in a tragic story of racism and justice gone awry.

This is an unusual point of view. It is generally used as a method of separating the reader from direct identification with any of the "actors" in the story. The events are told by a third party who witnessed them, but was not part of the story.

It is a difficult type of point of view to master. The character sits on the bank of the river describing the ships floating by without engaging with them. You are unable to get a deep interior perspective from any of the main characters. Since the author is only tangentially a part of the story s/he doesn't even have the insight of a Watson or Captain Hastings into the main character's motives and thoughts.

It is rarely used, and I think you can see why.

Tomorrow we will begin our discussion of Third Person Point of View. 

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