In "Miss Brill," how does the point of view allow the reader to understand Miss Brill's perception of herself?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the point of view is critical to understanding both Miss Brill and the limited perception she has of herself.  The narration style of third person stream of consciousness that allows us to understand Miss Brill is also the same view that prevents Miss Brill from fully understanding herself and her place in the world.  Prior to the couple sitting on the bench, the narrative view allows the reader to understand that Miss Brill's afternoon is a special moment to her, something in which she sees herself as indispensable.  The narrative point of view allows the reader to understand that there might be something fundamentally wrong with Miss Brill's perception of the world, though the reader is not fully aware how much of a disconnect there is between Miss Brill and the world until the couple joins her on her bench.  The same point of view makes understanding of Miss Brill evident at the end of the story when she throws the fur stole into the box, reacting to it for the reaction she received from the couple.  The point of view of the story allows the reader to enter the thoughts of Miss Brill and recognize how disjointed of a perception that Miss Brill has relating to herself and her place in the world.  The lack of a reflective tone in the character itself is reflected in the point of view narration, reflecting the profound sense of alienation and division with which the reader is left at the end.

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