This week, I'm pleased to be hosting a guest post from a talented student at Fiveable. Fiveable offers free AP resources for students looking to deepen their learning. The following was written by one of their students about AP Literature point of view.
AP Lit: Point of View
by Dylan Black
In literature, point of view is an incredibly useful device that authors can use to portray their stories in different ways. In AP Lit, you must know how to identify which point of view a passage is in and what this tells about the story. Let's go into some points of view.
💮 First-Person Point of ViewThe story is told from a character within the narrative.
✨ Keywords: I, me, our, we, my
⚫️ Effect: First-person P.O.V. is effective in creating a speaker's persona. By revealing their inner thoughts and feelings, complex characterization is achieved.
In the first-person point of view, the main character is directly addressing the reader and acting as the narrator for the story. For example, from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:
"Now the way that the book winds up is this: Tom and me found the money that the robbers hid in the cave, and it made us rich. We got six thousand dollars apiece – all gold. It was an awful sight of money when it was piled up. Well, Judge Thatcher he took it and put it out at interest, and it fetched us a dollar a day apiece all the year round – more than a body could tell what to do with. The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn’t stand it no longer I lit out."
As you can see from this passage, Huckleberry Finn is using a conversational tone and a very specific dialect which is emphasized especially by Huck Finn's use of words like "I", "we", and "me".
💮 💮 Second-Person Point of View - The reader is put in the story.
✨ Keywords: You, your, yours
⚫️ Effect: Second person P.O.V. is used when the author is trying to call attention to something. By directly addressing the reader and putting them in the story, they convey meaning unambiguously.
The second-person point of view is certainly the rarest and most likely you have not seen it very much in literature. However, one place you most definitely have seen it is in "Choose Your Own Adventure Books". In these books, the author will state things like, "You run down the football field, the wind in your face, and catch the ball cleanly between your hands". This point of view is especially useful in these scenarios because it pulls the reader in. Rather than it being a character facing these issues, you the reader are the character! This creates more emotional attachment from the reader and creates a more compelling novel sometimes.
💮 💮 💮 Third person point of view - The story is told from the perspective of an outsider. ✨ Keywords: They, them, it, he, she
You've likely read many stories whose use of a third person perspective gave you a broader idea of plot and character. Some of these may even be featured on your May exam! In light of this, it is important to note that third person point of view can be recognized from the use of the "they/them", "he/him", "she/her" or "it" pronouns.
🌷 Objective = The speaker reports as a neutral observer.
The narrative is presented without interpretation or bias from any of the characters.
🌼 Limited = The speaker knows only one character's thoughts and feelings.
This one-sided perspective is usually, but not always, reserved for the protagonist.
🌹 Omniscient = The speaker knows the thoughts and feelings of all characters.
The outside nature of the narrator typically leads to greater reliability
⚫️ Effect: Third person P.O.V. is common, though with the variance between its three different forms. Stories written from this perspective can come off as distant, but they allow for a complex plotline as more information is available to the reader.
Congratulations! You now have a basic understanding of the three main points of view. However, in order to keep honing your skills, read as many texts as you can and be sure to analyze along with identifying elements of the text. Good luck!
This article was written by a talented student for Fiveable. Visit Fiveable's Website where you will find an extensive library of study guides, trivia, and livestreams. If you would like to take a class to prepare for an AP test, sign up for Fiveable's Courses.
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