Who is the narrator of Elmore Leonard's Killshot?

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

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Elmore Leonard is a highly acclaimed American author of crime fiction, and his 1989 novel Killshot is a classic example of his style and subject matter.

Although the narrative is told from a traditional third-person omnisecient perspective, each section of the book focuses on different characters and the point-of-view shifts with them. For example, the first chapter of the novel is from the perspective of the criminal Blackbird, and although the narration is third person, it allows Blackbird's thoughts to show through the description as indirect dialogue.

There was a silence on the line before the voice said, "Forget it. We never have this conversation."
See? He was a punk. The Blackbird said, "I can never kiss his hand...."
(Leonard, Killshot)

The interjection "See? He was a punk," is a direct thought from the Blackbird's mind, but it doesn't preclude the thrid-person narrator then referring to him instead of switching to a first-person perspective -- e.g., "I said," instead of "the Blackbird said." In this manner, each character is able to make his or her inner thoughts known to the reader, even though the narrative is not directly from their point of view. Therefore, the narrator can be said to be all of the characters, and none of them; they all affect the reader's perceptions, but none of them has total control over the narration,which is controlled by the third-person narrator.


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