What is the point of view in Little House in the Big Woods?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The point of view is third person limited, focusing on Laura.

Point of view refers to how a story is told.  The main types of point of view are first person, third person limited, and third person omniscient.    In first person, the narrator is telling the story and uses first person pronouns like “I” and “my.”  In third person limited, the narrator focuses on one character also, but uses a third person pronoun like “she” or a name.  Third person limited narration, on the other hand, switches from one character to another to tell the story. 

Here is an example of how we can tell what Laura is feeling from the third person limited narration.

It was a scary sound. Laura knew that wolves would eat little girls. But she was safe inside the solid log walls. Her father's gun hung over the door and good old Jack, the brindle bulldog, lay on guard before it. (Ch. 1)

We know how Laura is feeling when she is frightened by the wolves.  The book does not tell us what Laura’s father is feeling or thinking directly, except through what he says, and what Laura thinks he is feeling, and through his actions.  We do know, however, what Laura thinks about him.  Third person limited means Laura's opinion is added.

The narrator can also tell us what other characters are thinking through their words, based on what they tell Laura.

"I thought that if I could scare him, he might get out of the road and let me go by. So I took a deep breath, and suddenly I shouted with all my might and rah at him, waving my arms.” (Ch. 7)

From this description, we can tell how Laura’s father was feeling, at least as much as he described to her.  He tells his family this story because he is entertaining them, and probably because he wants them to be aware of the dangers of bears in the woods and what to do if encountering one.  

The benefit of third person limited narration is that you can tell a story from one character’s perspective and be basically inside one character’s head.  There is some distance, and it does not sound as if that character is talking directly to the reader, but the distance is minimal.  The disadvantage is that other than this character’s assumptions about what other characters are thinking, we do not get inside other characters heads.

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