The Importance of the Point of View Upon Analyzing Various Literary Pieces

Categories: Literature

The Point of View is the entire focus for the reader upon the story or poem they are about to engage in. In a drama/play you have the opportunity to choose, though limited, from which perspective you will engage in watching the telling of the story. When we are dealing with the written word in a sonnet, novel, quote or poem we are given a perspective by the author. One of the reasons I chose this topic is there was a movie a few years ago called Vantage Point in which there was an assassination and the entire movie was the retelling of the exact same crime scene from multiple points of view.

They would rewind and begin again from a new characters place in in the town square when the shooting took place. It was amazing how the story changed as it was viewed from each person. I began to image what Night would have sounded like had it been told by the Father or one of the people sympathetic to Hitler.

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I realize it would be a completely different story even though they were all at the same place at the same time, that’s what makes point of view so fascinating. In Ballad of Birmingham, if retold from the heart of the little girl who wanted so desperately to march, how ironic, she felt safe enough to want to participate in the March verses singing to God where she was, in reality, was unsafe.

Our textbook teaches four styles of point of view:

  1. Omniscient
  2. First person
  3. Third person
  4. Objective

Point of view, in simplistic form, means who tells the story.

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It is critical to your experience as the reader. Who tells the story and how it gets told determines how you are led from thought to thought or feeling to feeling. The author uses the point of view to set the tone. As I think about point of view it reminds me somewhat of the perspective that a good business salesperson needs to take. Just like the author, before he pitches his idea he needs to consider what is the best approach to use to convince his potential customer they want to buy the product or idea. The salesman needs to know what points he wants to convey, how he wants them to be received, what emotions he wants to evoke and what conclusion he wants the potential buyer to have.

The salesman then decides what position to take to accomplish those goals as effectively as possible. In the omniscient style of writing, the author is giving you, the reader, insight into the feelings and impressions of the characters and events. In First person it is a diary or journal of sorts as we walk through their experiences. The same is true of third person however it is someone else telling what “he or “she” experienced and felt. In objective we are not provided anyone’s emotions or thoughts, simply events and we apply our own reactions.

Examples of point of view that I chose to discuss are: Night, Ballad of Birmingham, Oedipus Rex, Miss Brill, Bonheoffer and Pride and Prejudice.

Night-I knew right away that this story would be the focus of whatever topic I chose. This story was life changing for me. God had begun a process in me that involved being willing to be present to other peoples suffering and reading this book was a significant part of that. This story is written in the First Person I point of view. It usually means the author is writing about their own lives.

Ballad of Birmingham-this poem had such personal application for me; I thought about it for days and kept inserting people I know into the two different characters. I ached for the mother and I spent time thinking about the false assumption that we should be safe in the house of God. It’s a man-made structure. The point of view for Ballad of Birmingham is third person limited.

Oedipus Rex-it interests me how desperate I felt in wanting the truth to be revealed before he married his mother and then again how I wanted to help him figure things out faster. I remember in the Tom Hanks movie Castaways, I wanted to yell out loud in the movie theatre when a rescue plane flew over, and this story evoked that same feeling. The author writes from the point of view of First person narrated from the main character Oedipus

Miss Brill-her point of view was stated as perhaps watching a play, she didn’t seem to grasp that she was one of the characters. I find her little fantasies about the people and events interesting. Third person Omniscient is the point of view taken for this short stories effectiveness. It’s told by a third person narrator which allows us and her to see the different actors in the story.

The only example I found of third person narration is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudiced. This was not an assigned reading for this class, it does however have the “he said” and “she said” writing style. I believe the Rocking Horse winner is an example in our text of a third person writing. In the Book Night, (Wiesel2006) by Elie Wiesel the story is told from the First person perspective of A-7713. The very first sentence of the Foreword says “came to see me”. His experiences, his feelings and his perception of others are shared with us in vivid detail. It’s quite difficult in scanning the novel to even find his name; Eleizer-A7713.

As the character changes settings from his original home, to the train, to the concentration camps and the freezing shell of a building where they almost die from freezing to death he takes us with him. We meet who he meets, we see through his eyes the people and scenery around him. Like an artist using colors to evoke an impression, so too does a good author rouse emotions based on how they tell the story. If we change the point of view to third person in the book Night, the paragraph on page 7 would read like this “Even he did not believe him, he sat with him after services and listened to Moishes tales, trying to understand his grief but in the end it seemed as if Eilezer pitied Moishes”.

The term change from “I” to” he” means that someone else is telling us what Eilezer is experiencing and feeling, like a biography. In Eric Metaxas book titled Bonheoffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet and Spy, we see from the perspective of one author who is Eric Metaxas, telling the story of the character, Bonheoffer, who in this story was a Pastor and spy during Hitler’s Reign. I believe that both books intend to have the main theme of the tragedy of war and human suffering. However, since Night was told exclusively from Eleizers experiences as a concentration camp survivor I anticipate the author will speak of others suffering and Bonheoffer’s part in it as he played the sympathetic role as Spy. Both books are biographies (one autobiography and one not) and set in the same time period in the late 1940’s. Bonheoffer died by assassination after trying to defend Jews and a failed assassination attempt against Hitler.

In Ballad of Birmingham (Arp/Johnson, 2009) the tragic theme has a few possible sub plots if the point of view were to change from the mother to the little girl. If the story had been told from the child’s point of view she could have perhaps shared more about her reasons for wanting to participate in the march. It has an ironic twist that she would be willing to take such a courageous stand as to march the streets and in the end died in the very same cause. (Instead of a fire or car accident) What about the irony of her death being in a church? Should God have protected her there? The sermon message that night at the church was The love that forgives.

Since we don’t read from her characters perspective we don’t know the condition of her heart at the time of her death. Was she angry at her mother? At God? What was the driving force that led her to want to march in the first place? The Explication on the Essay web site noted “after reading the literal translation one might be fairly in touch with the poem and its true meaning, however, the thematic translation tells the authors theme and reasons and for this work one might see a mother who is overly cautious and overbearing. The mother shows the characteristic of fright. The child shows the characteristic of honor and independence.” [ess04] For most people who walked in the freedom marches this was a cause they were willing to die for. Each side believed passionately in their position and had been conditioned over time that they were justified in their anger over what “right” is.

Overall Dudley Randall tells a poignant story, in very few words regarding a tragic time, overridden with fear and hope mingled together. The mood of this poem varies wildly. The excitement of the child wanting to march is my assumption, the fear of the mother for her child’s safety, a possible sense of control and rebellion between mother and child, obedience on the part of the child and then the extreme result of facing death when you felt safe and sure. We don’t know from the poem but we can ponder as well whether a future faith issue for the mother might arise.

Miss Brill (Arp/Johnson, 2009) is a short story that depicts a lonely woman’s search for meaning and companionship through the stories she weaves while sitting at the park. She has limited human contact with the people of the tales she tells herself and the symbolism is significant in this story of things such as her fur, an actress in play. Then there is one fateful, life changing moment where two teenage lovers have a dialogue about her which brings her great pain. Probably ending for all time, the purpose of her life which had evolved to these visits to the park. The point of view was entirely from the main character. We hear her opinions on fashion, behavior, music and weather. My favorite part is when she hears someone crying.

In Oedipus Rex the story is documented from the first person perspective of Oedipus. It is set in his birth home in Thebes, Corinth and fork in the road. The story chronicles his tragedies of his life and how those tragedies affect those he loves.

In my life, if I were to ever do my own biography, I believe I would choose to write in first person point of view because of how powerful the movement WWJD. It is amazing to me that even the initials WWJD is its own perspective or point of view. It is a stand from which other things will be judged, acted on or presented if the person wearing the bracelet lives their conviction. It becomes a point of reference from which other things occur. If we did not know from Jesus’s point of view how we are commanded to live we would not be able to see something as simple as an arm bracelet and know what the intent is behind WWJD.

The initials WWJD also make a sub plot statement in that they indicate to others a standard by which a person has decided to live their life. Like a tattoo, they are a symbol on the person that states something important. I believe that if I were an author, I would want a literary work to represent my heart. Perhaps as I would mature in the field of writing I would become more adept at writing using other styles but, in the beginning, I would want to write for the purpose of documenting thoughts, feelings and ideas that tell others, from my heart to theirs, what my experiences have been and how I hope it blesses them to invest the time to come alongside my journey.

Works Cited

  1. Metaxas, E. (2009). Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr and Spy. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
  2. Thomas Arp, Greg Johnson. (2009). Literature Structure, Sound and Sense. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning Center.
  3. Wiesel, E. (2006). Night. New York: Hill and Wang.

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The Importance of the Point of View Upon Analyzing Various Literary Pieces. (2021, Sep 15). Retrieved from

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