What is the point of view of the short story "Poison" by Roald Dahl?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The short story "Poison" by Roald Dahl is written in the first person perspective.  Readers know that the story is being written from this perspective from the opening lines of the story.  

It must have been around midnight when I drove home, and as I approached the gates of the bungalow.

Uses of "I" and "me" being spoken or thought by a narrator are good indicators that a story is being written from the first person perspective.  First person narration offers some advantages over third person narration.  One of those advantages is giving the audience a limited view of things.  That sounds like a downside, but it isn't.  A first person narration limits the knowledge of the reader to the knowledge of the character narrating the story.  We simply can't know what is happening in the heads of other characters unless they speak it.  This limited knowledge really draws a reader into the story and makes readers just as involved in the events of the story as the narrator.  

In "Poison," the first person narration is a great choice because it lets readers really "see" the racism that Harry exhibits.  A third person narration might have simply told readers that Harry is a racist, but Timber's narration lets readers experience it in the same way that Timber is experiencing it.  

"Are you telling me I'm a liar?" he shouted.

Ganderbai remained absolutely still, watching Harry.

Harry took a pace forward on the bed and there was a shining look in his eyes. "Why, you dirty little Hindu sewer rat!"

"Shut up, Harry!" I said.

"You dirty black-"

"Harry!" I called. "Shut up, Harry!" It was terrible, the things he was saying.

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Roald Dahl writes "Poison" in first person point of view--a character in the story tells the story.  Readers know this from the beginning because the story opens with Timber's words,

"It must have been around midnight when I drove home, and as I approached the gates of the bungalow."

For this particular story, first person works extremely well because the narrator, Timber, is a friend of Harry (the character upon whom the plot and theme are centered). Timber witnesses objectively for the reader the interaction between Harry and Dr. Ganderbai, and allows the reader to interpret how poorly Harry treats the doctor because of his own racism.

fitzy | Student

first person

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