What is the point of view of "The Black Cat"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The point of view of this story is first-person objective. The first-person part means that the narrator is a participant in the events that have taken place in the plot and that he uses the first personal pronoun "I." The objective part means that the narrator is telling the story after the events have already taken place, and so most verbs that he uses will be in the past tense (as opposed to a subjective narrator, who tells events as they take place using verbs in the present tense). The unnamed narrator of this story does, in fact, use the first-person pronoun, "I," as we see several times in the first paragraph alone, and he narrates events in which he has participated, looking back on them.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The point of view of Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Black Cat" is a central, first person narrator. It is also omniscient (knows everything) and subjective (speaks from his own criteria, experience, or context).

The salient traits of a 1st Person POV are the following:

  • The narrator has first hand information of the problem of the story
  • He or she is a character within the tale and refers to self in first person (I, me).
  • May or may not be entirely trusted, as he or she is telling a story from a personal and subjective context.
In "The Black Cat" we have the added variable that the narrator seems to be mentally unstable. This makes the narrator all the more unreliable. He asks that we believe him, but knows he cannot expect us to do so. He knows that he is telling a supernatural tale and that the things that have occurred may render him prone to be considered crazy, but he tells the story anyways along with the chilling details of his own behaviors.
Therefore, although the POV is first person omniscient and subjective, it does not necessarily mean that the events happened verbatim as the narrator suggests. Instead, it means that a lot of details may have been left out for the narrator's own benefit. This is where the imagination meets fact and the audience is left to make its own conclusions of what is going on.


See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team