” ‘Has Father come home?’ Shanta asked. She would not take her coffee or tiffin but insisted on being dress first.” (86)
“He had no for time for the child. While children of her age in other houses had all the dolls, dress and outings that they wanted, this child was growing up all alone and like a barbarian more or less.” (87)
Narayan, R.K. “Forty-Five a Month.” Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin Classics, 2006. Print.
This story clearly illustrates the difference between child and adult. Shanta puts her father up on a pedestal just for offering to take her to the cinema. To her, her father is just perfect. However, once the perspective switches to the father’s, the real world stresses or work and difficulties at home are made clear. The reader feels the pity he has for his child, for not being able to give her dolls and pretty things. Narayan does well to show how different one thing can seem to a child and to an adult through the switched perspective.
In Gertrude Stein’s Melanctha, published in 1909, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man written by James Joyce, published in 1916, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, published in 1925, and William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying published in 1930, all contain some type of use of perspective change. While every text does provide the reader with certain characters’ perspectives, the authors each have their own way of depicting it. Stein, Joyce, and Woolf’s texts seem to consistently change perspectives and voice without warning. They are the most similar when quickly changing perspectives, though still unique to their own texts. One sentence could be the narrator’s perspective and the next is Jeff, Stephen, or Clarissa, respectively. An example from Stein’s use of perspective is the sudden shift from Jeff’s thoughts to the narrator’s perspective: “Slowly he felt that surely they must both have this feeling. It was so important that he knew that she must have it. They both sat there, very quiet, a long time” (69). Five years after Woolf’s novel, Faulker made the perspective changes in his novel clear by giving sections for each character to use their voice and tell the story from their point of view. By doing this, the reader follows the same story, but understanding it through many different characters’ views. Inserting different perspectives throughout these texts establishes new ways of thinking, writing, and reading.
“Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things, suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches” (Hurston 9).
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006. Print.
Janie is characterized as a person who is thoughtful and attentive to life and those around her. Unlike some of the other characters, she looks at her life as a combination of positive, moments as well as negative ones, refusing to allow gossip to change her own perspectives. It is this characteristic that differentiates her from many of the other characters in the novel’s plot.
“And it was cowardly for a man to say he would kill himself, but Septimus had fought; he was brave; he was not Septimus now. She put on her lace collar. She put on her new hat and he never noticed; and he was happy without her. Nothing could make her happy without him! Nothing! He was selfish. So men are. For he was not ill. Dr. Holmes said there was nothing the matter with him. She spread her hand before her. Look! Her wedding ring slipped- she had grown so thin. It was she who suffered- but she had nobody to tell.”
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Inc. 1925. Print. p.23.
This passage demonstrates the disconnect from prewar life that a veteran faces postwar, and the stress this disconnect puts on the family of the veteran. The free indirect discourse of Lucrezia, “Nothing could make her happy without him! Nothing!”, albeit melodramatic sounding is a good juxtaposition to the emotional numbness that Septimus is feeling postwar.
“It was wonderful. Never had he done anything which made him feel so proud. It was so real, it was substantial, Mrs. Peters’ hat.
“Just look at it,” he said.
Yes, it would always make her happy to see that hat. He had become himself then, he had laughed then. They had been alone together. Always she would like that hat.”
Virginia Woolf often uses free indirect discourse, (though there is direct dialogue here as well in the middle), in her writing which makes it rather difficult trying to determine whose perspective (as it always seems to be changing), or mind you are really getting a piece of, or if it even might just be the unknown narrator.
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Inc. 1925. Print. pp. 144
In Melanctha, both the vocabulary and syntax are undoubtedly simple. The repetition of names, specific terms, and explanations are tedious, however they offer an unusual argument. Without heavy description of the setting or characters, we rely on the narration to find feeling through several perspectives.
The Cubist movement was known for its use of simultaneous perspective in painting, much like Stein’s Melanctha. To someone oblivious of a painting that is done by Picasso, they may immediately conclude that the painting’s shapes, colors, and overall execution is simple. However, the communication being transmitted through the art is carries a larger message. Although Stein uses elementary words and childish repetition, she is able to convey complicated ideas using each character’s view.
“Melanctha Herbert never really lost her sense that it was Jane Harden who had taught her, but Jane did many things that Melanctha now no longer needed. And then, too, Melanctha never could remember right when it came to what she had done and what had happened. Melanctha now sometimes quarreled with Jane, and they no longer went about together, and sometimes Melanctha really forgot how much she owned to Jane Harden’s teaching.”
Stein, Gertrude. “Melanctha.” In Three Lives. New York: Grafton, 1909. Internet Archive. http://archive.org/details/threelivesstorie00steirich.