Point of view affects characterization. From whose point of view is this story told? When furiously and furious both turn up in the first paragraph, is this the author's contribution? Or does the...

Point of view affects characterization. From whose point of view is this story told? When furiously and furious both turn up in the first paragraph, is this the author's contribution? Or does the character contribute the idea of furiousness?

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liesljohnson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This story is told in third-person omniscient narration from Farrington's point of view. This narrator has access to all of Farrington's thoughts, and he focuses the story closely on the main character, following him from the office to the bar, back to the office, back to the bars, and finally to his home.

You could say that this unremittingly focused point of view is the main tool with which Joyce characterizes Farrington; the narration allows us to see how Farrington thinks, acts, and speaks throughout the unbroken description of his afternoon and evening.

At the same time, the third-person narration slightly distances us from Farrington, allowing the more erudite voice of the narrator to provide insight into Farrington: consider, for example, how Farrington looks at his boss's egg-like head, "gauging its fragility" and not "thinking about how he could maybe smash it."

When furiously and furious both turn up in the first paragraph, this is, of course, the author's contribution: Joyce carefully selected these words to set the tone for the story.

But more importantly, the character, Farrington, contributes the idea of fury: yes, objectively, there's a bell ringing, and yes, there literally is a voice shouting out a demand, but the story is focused on Farrington, who projects his own anger and fury onto everyone and everything around him. So to him, the bell sounds furious, and to him, the boss's demand sounds furious.

The question of whether this choice of words ("furiously" and "furious") belongs more to the author, to the narrator, or to the main character is a very fine point. It belongs to all of them, but it's Farrington himself who embodies fury.

This question also reveals the skillful way in which Joyce's third-person narration blurs its own lines, seeming to offer descriptions heavily influenced by the main character himself.

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