Question: Discuss how a narrator influenced your response to a fiction text.
A story can be told from many perspectives and authors must decide how it will be narrated. Harper Lee uses the first person voice in the form of Scout, a six-year old girl to narrate the events of her novel To Kill A Mockingbird. However, the language she uses is not restricted to Scout’s young age, since this would have severely limited the depth of the events she must recount. Lee creates a voice that is both the child, Scout and the adult, Jean-Louise Finch, recreating her childhood experiences. There are several advantages to this which make the narrative enjoyable and easy to read while examining important issues.
The novel deals with difficult social issues and themes; racism, prejudice and an accusation of sexual assault, set against a background of economic depression in the southern states of America. The novel was written and published during a time of great social change, when the United States was beginning to confront its unpleasant history of slavery and racial repression. By telling the story through the eyes of a child, with the tone and distance of an adult, some of the difficulties of the issues are ameliorated, or softened through humour, naïveté and childish curiosity. The use of a child/adult narrator provides dramatic irony, contrasting Scout’s innocence and honesty against the prejudice and hypocrisy of the adult characters.
Scout’s point of view gives the reader an insight into the events that Scout does not have. Often readers are aware of what is really going on when Scout is not. For example, when the men arrive at the courthouse to lynch Tom Robinson, she is only aware of the immediate threat to her brother and father. She does not know the men’s real intention. Her effort to engage in conversation with Mr Cunningham is a moving and naïve attempt to find common ground with him; she reminds him that he is a father, and that he is obligated to her...