Jean Auel uses the third person omniscient point of view in The Clan of the Cave Bear. How does this affect the way we the way we see and understand the characters and the events that transpire in the novels?
The third person omniscient point-of-view means that the storyteller knows that private thoughts and feelings of all of the characters ("third person limited" means that this is only true of one character).
Auel's use of this point-of-view is helpful in that we not only know what motivates Ayla, but also what jealousies, allegiances, and empathies other characters have, such as Broud, Brun, Creb, and Iza.
Additionally, the third person omniscient allows the narrator to provide information about the characters past and look into their future, as in the following excerpt from the text:
"And their memory made them extraordinary. In them, the unconscious knowledge of ancestral behavior called instinct had evolved. Stored in the back of their large brains were not just their own memories, but the memories of their forebears. They could recall knowledge learned by their ancestors and, under special circumstances, they could go a step beyond. They could recall their racial memory, their own evolution. And when they reached back far enough, they could merge that memory that was identical for all and join their minds, telepathically.”