What is the point of view in "The Grave" by Guy de Maupassant?

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The short story "The Grave" by Guy de Maupassant starts out with a watchman in a cemetery apprehending a man when he has just dug up a coffin of a young woman and is pulling out the corpse. The scene shifts to a courtroom, where the man is being tried....

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The short story "The Grave" by Guy de Maupassant starts out with a watchman in a cemetery apprehending a man when he has just dug up a coffin of a young woman and is pulling out the corpse. The scene shifts to a courtroom, where the man is being tried. The man has waived counsel, and when the magistrate instructs him to defend his actions, he tells his story. He says that the young woman was his lover, and though she died of pneumonia, he could not bear to be separated from her, and so he uncovered the coffin so that he could see her one more time. In the end, his eloquence wins over the jury and he is acquitted.

To tell this story, de Maupassant uses two different points of view. The third-person point of view uses "he," "she," "they," or "it," and the writer remains outside the story as an observer. Third person can be either limited, in which the writer reports actions objectively, or omniscient, in which the writer describes what is happening in the minds of the characters. In this case, the third-person viewpoint is limited. De Maupassant uses it as a frame at the beginning and ending of the story, first to set up the situation and then to provide the resolution.

In the first-person point of view, the writer uses "I," "me," "mine," and other pronouns to tell a story through a singular narrator. De Maupassant uses this point of view for the testimony of Courbataille, the accused man. This testimony forms the main part and the heart of the story.

It's unusual to employ two points of view in a story as short as "The Grave," but de Maupassant uses this technique to great effect.

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When looking at the point-of-view in Guy du Maupassant's "The Grave", one could very easily become confused. Typically, the use of the pronoun "I" would lead one to believe that the point-of-view is first person. Here, it is not the case.

If one were to look at the opening of the story, they would realize that the story is narrated in third person given the use of the pronoun "he" and the use of the proper names "Vincent" and "Courbataille".

The appearance of the pronoun "I" is used so that the narrator can remit to the reader what Courtbataille said while in court.

Therefore, while "I" is used throughout the story (typically notating a first person narration), here, it is used to quote what a character, Courbataille, says when defending himself.

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