Before writing any story, whether flash fiction, a short story, a novella, a novel, the writer must decide on the point of view to adopt to tell the story. The choices are wide:
- an 'all-seeing God', writing in the third person about something going on 'down there'. The advantage of this POV is the writer can talk about anything he/she wants to, but the disadvantage is that the story could be a tad impersonal.
- 'second person'. Not many writers choose this POV, but it can be interesting to find the occasional 'you' or 'dear reader' interspersed amongst the 'first person' or 'third person' narration. But when an author chooses to address the reader directly, pay attention, it must be for a good reason.
- 'first person', the favourite of YA and MG authors, where the writer 'becomes' an actual character in the story. This might liven up the story, make it more immediate, but again the writer has to stick to the rules and limit himself/herself in time and space as the character would be limited.
"Stephanie Crawford even told me once she woke up in the middle of the night and found Boo [Radley] looking in the window at her. I said what did you do, Stephanie, move over in the bed and make room for him? That shut her up a while.
I was sure it did. Miss Maudie's voice was enough to shut anybody up." (p.51)A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama. It is likely she based Maycomb on her hometown, and her own childhood experiences. The racial concerns she addresses began long before her story starts and continue long after her story finishes. Her story was informed not only by the laws and attitudes that were part of her youth and her culture, but also by the Civil Rights movement which continues to struggle today at various levels. This is what makes TKAM timeless. Harper Lee is Scout. And she told her story in the style of Scout's memoir. It begins lazily then grips the reader by the throat and never lets go. I'm proud to own one of the first copies ever published. Second-hand bookstores are full of treasures!
Telling lies to the young is wrong.
Proving to them that lies are true is wrong.
Telling them that God's in his heaven
and all's well with the world is wrong.
The young know what you mean. The young are people.
Tell them the difficulties can't be counted,
and let them see not only what will be
but see with clarity these present times.
Say obstacles exist they must encounter
sorrow happens, hardship happens.
The hell with it. Who never knew
the price of happiness will not be happy.
Forgive no error you recognise,
it will repeat itself, increase,
and afterwards our pupils
will not forgive in us what we forgave.
(It could be an Atticus Finch monologue.)
Some other of my very favourite novels told through the eyes of a child:
- The Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank
- The Fault in our Stars, by John Green
- The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
- Mockingbirds, by Daisy Whitney (using themes from TKAM)
- Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- The Night Rainbow, by Claire King - (5-year-old narrator)
- A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
- So...why am I on about POV and TKAM today? Well, I'm a guide by the side of my Year 10 students every year as they study it for its timeless themes.
- This month's WEP challenge is: Through the eyes of a child, where entries are to be just that - told from a child's POV, whether flash fiction, non-fiction or poetry. Photographs and Artworks can also be posted that represent a POV of a child.
- Your'e invited to join us on March 26, with your interpretation of the prompt. You can sign up in my right hand sidebar, or visit Write...Edit...Publish.
- How many books do you know that are told through the eyes of a child?