In "The Way Up to Heaven," what type of narrator does Dahl use? Does the point of view stay the same for the whole story, or does it shift? If it does shift, why?
In "The Way Up to Heaven," the author uses the common third-person anonymous narrator with the point of view limited to a single character, Mrs. Foster. The narrator is seemingly omniscient but does not go into Mr. Foster's mind as he does throughout the story with Mrs. Foster. She often wonders about her husband's secret thoughts, but the narrator only suggests what he is thinking by describing what he says and does. It isn't until the end of the story that Mrs. Foster realizes how her husband has been torturing her over the years by creating delays that make her miss important appointments, just as he does in "The Way Up to Heaven."
All her life, Mrs. Foster had had an almost pathological fear of missing a train, a plane, a boat, or even a theatre curtain. In other respects, she was not a particularly nervous woman, but the mere thought of being late on occasions like these would throw her into such a state of nerves that she would begin to twitch.
When she realizes the truth and has an opportunity to get back at her secretly sadistic husband, she takes advantage of it by letting him get stuck between floors in their private elevator. Since they are both vacating their townhouse for at least six weeks, Mr. Foster will have died a lingering death in the stuck elevator by the time she returns from Europe.
The narrator moves freely into Mrs. Foster's mind, but not into her husband's. Mr. Foster is always observed from her point of view. The narrator makes it plain that she suspects her husband is tormenting her but that she cannot be sure. Here is an example of how Mr. Foster's probable motives are represented.
She couldn’t be sure, but it seemed to her that there was suddenly a new note in his voice, and she turned to look at him. It was difficult to observe any change in his expression under all that hair. The mouth was what counted. She wished, as she had so often before, that she could see the mouth clearly. The eyes never showed anything except when he was in a rage.
The reader naturally identifies with Mrs. Foster because of being held in that character's point of view and also because it is natural to share her anxiety about being late for such an important matter as catching a flight from New York City to Paris. The fact that the trip is of such importance to her brings out the sadism of her hateful husband. It also explains the severity of her retaliation when she hears the elevator getting stuck between floors and leaves him to die a horrible death.
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