ORDINARY LEVEL LITERATURE IN ENGLISHPART ONE: THEORY OF LITERATURE: AN INTRODUCTION TO LITERATURE
UNIT 16: Elements of Form - Part 2 - Narrative Techniques, Point of views, and Style
In this Unit, the following aspects will be covered:
- Narrative Techniques
- Point of Views
Literary works are organised by using various methods and styles. One of these methods is narrative technique in which a writer tries to figure out how he/she will present the work to the audience. Point of view is another writer's style whereby the writer chooses the angle from which his/her story's events will be observed.
By definition, a technique is a method of doing or presenting something especially in arts and sciences. However, in literature, technique refers to the way a literary work has been constructed and brought to a reader. There are a variety of techniques employed by the writers in literature, but narrative techniques are our concern at the moment.
Narrative technique. It is any narrative method or a storytelling mode of an author in which an account of a tale or a story is told. One narrative technique can cover the whole book or a part of it.
Types of narrative techniques. There are almost four known narrative techniques used in the literary works. They are:
Oral traditional narrative style. This technique refers to the retelling of a story that resembles the traditional way of telling that have beginning styles like, “Once upon a time, a long time ago…, many years ago, and so on at the beginning of a story.
Straight forward narrative technique. It is a narration of a story that relates to what is taking place in the story from the beginning to the end of the story. This method is common in many novels.
Flashback. It is a narrative technique in which the end or middle of the story is found at the beginning and vice versa. Also it occurs when a character remembers or describes the things that happened at the beginning of a book while he/she is at the middle or end of a story.
Foreshadowing. It is another narrative technique in which a certain character or characters make the predictions of the things that really happen later in the book’s events. These characters then are said to have foreshadowed or foretold the things that come to be true at the middle or end of a literary work.
POINT OF VIEWS
A point of view is a position from which the story’s events and details are observed, perceived, and related. That is to say, with whose eyes we can see the actions in the literary work. It also refers to who tells the story. Therefore, it is the speaker, voice, narrator, or persona of a work of art from where we get the story.
Types of point of views. There are four point of views in literature. They are:
First-person point of view. It is when the story is told by using pronoun ‘I’ as if the narrator was a major or minor character in a work of art. Therefore, the reader sees everything from that character’s eyes and experiences.
Third-person point of view. It is when the narrator stands away from the characters and describes character’s and characters’ actions by using such pronouns as ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, and ‘they’. Thus, the narrator is not a character in the story, but an outside observer.
Third-person limited point of view. It is when the narrator tells a story by using only one character in the whole work of art. As usual, narrator is not a character in the book, but he/she tells the story to us (the readers) by relating and observing the thoughts and ideas of that single character and shows the actions of other characters of the story according to how that single character perceives them.
Third-person Omniscient point of view. It is also called ‘All-knowing point of view’. It is when the narrator is not a character, but he/she reports on what several characters are thinking and feeling. The narrator seems to know everything about the characters of the story that is why; he/she knows even what they think and what they fee even if the narrator is not with them. Thus, narrator becomes an ‘all-knowing’ being.
Style is the uniqueness of the writer in a work of art. This uniqueness is what distinguishes one author’s work from the work of another author. It includes the special qualities or styles that distinguish one writer from others. It also includes how to describe the choice of words and their arrangement in the work of art. The style also includes the writer’s choice of figures of speech in the work of art.
Examples of Author's Style can observed in the following texts:
- Use of 'Play Within a Play' Style in 'Betrayal in the City'
- Use of Diary Style in 'Houseboy'
- Use of Swahili in 'I Will Marry When I Want'
All these are some of the unique things (styles) authors use to distinguish their works from others' works.
Narrative technique, point of view and style are the important elements of Form in Literature which hold a literary work together. Both teachers and students have to take a keen interest in these methods because understanding them clearly provids the better chance of understanding the whole literary work.
Abrahams, M.H (1971) A Glossary of Literary Terms, Holt, Rinehart and Winston Inc. New York.
Daniel, K et al (ed.) (2003) Elements of Literature: Fourth Course with Readings in World Literature; Florida Edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Austin.
Daniel, K et al (ed.) (2003) Elements of Literature: Sixth Course; Literature of Britain with World Classics; Florida Edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Austin.
Kinsella, K et al (2003) Prentice Hall Literature: Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes; Copper Level, Pearson, Upper Saddle River.
UNIT 17: ELEMENTS OF FORM - Part 3