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What kind of narrator is used in "Love of Life" by Jack London and why do you say so?

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out2lunch | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 14, 2011 at 7:27 AM via web

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What kind of narrator is used in "Love of Life" by Jack London and why do you say so?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 17, 2011 at 1:05 AM (Answer #1)

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The difficulty with third person points-of-view is that the two types of third person narration can be confused. Whilst one major narrative style is the use of the omniscient third person narrator, it is also important to be aware that this is often mistaken for a far more subtle form of narration, which is the use of the third person limited. If we examine this story carefully, we can see that, whilst at the start the narrator remains detached and looks upon both central characters from a distance, we only see the thoughts and insights of the character who is not Bill. Consider the following example, coming from the other character when he realises Bill is deserting him:

Again his gaze completed the circle of the world about him. It was not a heartening spectacle. Everywhere was soft sky-line. The hills were all low-lying. There were no trees, no shrubs, no grasses -- naught but a tremendous and terrible desolation that sent fear swiftly dawning into his eyes.

The use of the third person limited therefore allows us to have access into the thoughts and motives of one character, and we follow the action from this characters point of view. If this story used the omniscient point of view, we would have access to the thoughts of both central characters, but as it is, we never are given any idea of what Bill is thinking.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 14, 2011 at 7:44 AM (Answer #2)

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Third person omniscient point of view is used, because we know each character’s thoughts.

“Love of Life” is a short story by Jack London.  We know that the third person point of view is used because of the use of third person pronouns (they) and the fact that both characters’ feelings are described.  The narrator is also not a character in the story.  Consider the following sentence:

They were tired and weak, and their faces had the drawn expression of patience which comes of hardship long endured.

We know both men’s thoughts.  It doesn’t say “I was tired and weak,” which would be first person, and the narrator is removed from the action, not an actual character in the story.

 

 

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