In "By the Waters of Babylon," what kind of a person is the narrator of the story?  Is he a reliable narrator?Also, how do diction & syntax used in the story fit the character?

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tthusing | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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In “By the Waters of Babylon,” you have a 1st person narrator.  This is seen in that the main character is presenting the story from his personal point of view.  We see the world through his eyes and know only what he knows. 

It can be argued whether or not he is reliable.  Many people will say no because he does not have a solid and clear grasp of what has really happened to the world around him.  He believes that the world was walked upon by gods who possessed far more knowledge than he and his people have.  He does not understand that these supposed gods were simply technologically advanced people.  However, as far as the reliability of the story is concerned the narrator is reliable in the sense that he is well informed about the culture in which he lives.    My personal view is that he is unreliable because of his misinformation about the prior culture, material objects, and other events.

Finally, his diction (how he speaks) and syntax (how his speech is formed) fit the character because they are less sophisticated than a “modern” character would be.  He speaks in the way that Native Americans are stereotyped in having spoken when English was new to them.  His manner of speaking reinforces his naivety and his innocence.

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