|(Level 1) Educator Emeritus
As a general principle, the narrator of a piece of fiction, or even of a poem, represents the author in several important respects, notably the tone of the story (the degree of seriousness or satire or emotional engagement, and the degree to which the reader can rely on the truth or veracity of the narrative information. That is, is the reader privy to the author’s knowledge of the story, or is some information withheld so that part of the reader’s experience is the figuring out of the “puzzle”? The unreliable narrator technique, says that the author is engaging in a complex relationship with the reader. Think, for example, of a baby-sitter telling a bedtime story to a child. Does the baby-sitter want to frighten the child, or calm him, or whet his curiosity, etc. The author chooses the narrative style that best reflects his or her relationship to the reader. The multiple-narrator of, for example, William Faulkner, besides being an experiment for him, also demonstrates his complex view of the events he is “narrating”. Moby Dick’s narrator Ishmael, a first-person approach, underlines the closeness of Melville to his story, forcing the reader to believe the details of the larger-than-life recounting.
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