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Understanding Point of View



Understanding Point of View
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.12

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    ballplayer, first-person, omniscient, second-person, third-person, vantage, Self-help, viewpoint, simulation, judgments, objective, generally, writing, series, narrator, explanation
     content words:    Lemony Snicket, Apple Pie, Marjorie Priceman


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Understanding Point of View
By Cindy Grigg
  

1     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.
 
2     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.
 
3     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.
 
4     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.
 
5     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.

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