What is the point of view of "The Lagoon" by Joseph Conrad?

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

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The narrative perspective of this short story is somewhat confused by Conrad's use of a framing narrative, which is a story-within-a-story. In a sense, there are two tales here, and one lies within the other. The reader is presented with the white man and his conversation with Arsat, and then within that the white man becomes an audience to Arsat's tale of love and treachery. However, in spite of these two different stories, melded together, the narrative perspective remains the same throughout. Note how the story starts and presents the point of view:

The white man, leaning with both arms over the roof of the little house in the stern of the boat, said to the steersman--

'We will pass the night in Arsat's clearing. It is late.'

The point of view is therefore third person, as the narrator is external to the action and acts as an observer, reporting what he or she sees and hears. This point of view remains consistent throughout, as even when Arsat tells his tale, the second story, the narrator reports his speech to both the white man and to the reader. This of course links the reader with the white man, as both are to some extent involved in Arsat's tragedy.


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