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Is the narrator of the story "Happy Endings" an objective narrator?

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lanena | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 8, 2007 at 7:45 AM via web

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Is the narrator of the story "Happy Endings" an objective narrator?

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janeyb | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted August 8, 2007 at 7:58 AM (Answer #1)

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I'm not entirely sure that a truly objective narrator ever occurs in fiction.  Simply by choosing a specific verb of adjective a narrator can lead a reader in one direction without the reader even realizing that they are being led.  There is this type of narration in "Happy Endings" although it only exists in the beginning and end of the story when Atwood uses a second person narration to speak directly to the reader.  ‘‘If you want a happy ending, try A,’’ she tells you.  However, after having read story A you know it is an impossibility, a satire of what people imagine.  Therefore, that second person narration has already framed the way you are going to read the story.  Indeed, by the end there is a shift and Atwood tells the reader about how to create a story.

The narrator of the individual vignettes is thirdperson omniscient in that way Atwood can let the reader know the thoughts, desires, and feelings of her characters.  The narrator is a relatively objective one , although i think to be completely objective is an impossibility. 

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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted August 8, 2007 at 8:12 AM (Answer #2)

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I would like to add how these two different points of view are specifically used in the story. The third-person omnisicient point of view allows Atwood to know about what all of her characters are thinking and feeling. This point of view is used to describe John's and Mary's relationship as well as the relationship of Madge and Fred. We know how the characters feel about each other and why they are involved with one another.

The second person point of view is used to introduce and end the story.

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