What point of view has been used in The Old Man and the Sea? Please explain.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Whenever we think of points of view or narration in fiction, there are three main types of point of view that are adopted. Firstly, there is first person narration, where the narrator is a character who appears in the story and relates it from his or her point of view, using the first person, "I." Secondly, there is third person limited, where the narrator is not a character in the story, but is exterior to it, choosing to follow around only one character and having access to their thoughts and feelings alone. The story is told in the third person, "he," or "she." Finally, there is the omniscient narrator, where again the narrator is exterior to the story and the tale is told in the third person, but the narrator can see the feelings and thoughts of all characters, having a god-like perspective on the action.

A quick examination of the text of this great novella reveals that the point of view is omniscient, as the narrator stands outside of the story and takes a wider perspective on it. It does, clearly, follow Santiago around for the majority of the tale, but it equally follows Manolin, revealing his thoughts and feelings, and the thoughts and feelings of other characters, such as what the other fishermen think of Santiago:

The older fishermen... looked at him and were sad. But they did not show it.

This reveals that the point of view is that of the omniscient narrator, which allows the universal significance of the tale to be more clearly suggested.