Related Links

Article of the Week

Run-On Sentences

Run-on sentences occur when writers try to combine more than one idea into a single sentence. They cause confusion because readers are not sure when one idea ends and the next one begins. Read our entry and test your knowledge with our quiz!

Point of View

Point of View is one filter through which the author presents information to the reader. All of the events and observations in a story or poem are told through a point of view. Readers should pay attention to point of view to understand how a narrator relates to the story as a whole, and uncover where a narrator may lead us astray.

The easiest point of view to recognize is that of a character in the story. Information we receive—events, history, and imagery—is influenced by that character’s experiences, prejudices, and powers of observation. Much of the time, we realize that we are following a character’s point of view because of the use of the word “I”; this is First-Person Point of View.

Third Person Point of View comes in a few varieties. The narrator may have access to a lot of information, or very little; that narrator may present events cleanly, or use subjective wording or commentary. Omniscient point of view can tell us what any character is thinking or doing at any point. But writers can create more suspense by selectively revealing the characters’ thoughts and actions—we call this Limited Omniscient point of view.

In some cases, the authors will begin with a third-person point of view, but then begin to slip into the voices of the individual characters. This is called Free Indirect Discourse: free, because it comes and goes; indirect, since it is not made up of direct quotations of speech; and discourse, because it represents the views of the character.

Point of View in popular culture: In the classic film Rashomon, the murder of a samurai is told from four conflicting points of view: a bandit, the samurai’s wife, a woodcutter, and the ghost of the samurai.

Point of View in literature: The James Joyce story “Araby” uses first person point of view to illustrate a character’s epiphany about the difference between his dreams and reality. The point of view transforms the reader’s mundane life throughout the story into more heightened, pure experiences. In his eyes, a walk through a grostesque market becomes a chalice-bearing adventure; a girl’s profile in an open door becomes angelic.