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What is the point-of-view used in the novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man?

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literature2011 | eNoter

Posted February 21, 2012 at 8:58 AM via web

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What is the point-of-view used in the novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 13, 2012 at 1:59 AM (Answer #1)

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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by Jame Joyce, is a 1916 novel that loosely covers parts of Joyce's own life.

While the novel is written in the stream-of-consciousness style that made Joyce famous, it is more accessible than some of his other works. The story is told in a third-person personal style, where the narrator is not a character but frequently delves into the thoughts of the protagonist, Stephen:

They all laughed again. Stephen tried to laugh with them. He felt his whole body hot and confused in a moment. What was the right answer to the question? He had given two and still Wells laughed. But Wells must know the right answer for he was in third of grammar. He tried to think of Wells's mother but he did not dare to raise his eyes to Wells's face. He did not like Wells's face.
(Joyce, A Portrait..., Google Books)

The novel is not written with the first-person personal pronoun "I," but rather with the third-person personal pronoun "He." This allows the unseen, non-character narrator to describe Stephen from the outside, showing him as a person, while the personal style lets Stephen's thoughts show while the thoughts of others do not. The point-of-view is therefore third-person personal, not omniscient.

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