Learn the different kinds of narrative POV: reliable first person, unreliable first person, omniscient third person, limited third person, objective third person, and even the rarely-used second person. Examples are used from Great Expectations, Flowers For Algernon, Sherlock, “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, and Bright Lights, Big City.


Understanding narrative POV is a valuable critical thinking skill. For example, when an advertiser tells you that its product is great, or when a politician tells you the country is on the wrong track, it’s important to remember who is telling you this and what that person’s motives might be. Or when a friend tells you someone said something, you might want to ask yourself how he or she knows this, or what the limitations of that person’s knowledge are. And when you have to put together a complete picture from incomplete information, you’ll have had practice doing this from reading literature.

Understanding point-of-view means seeing the whole picture, and not just passively accepting a narrative the way it’s told to you.

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© Daniel Sato