What is Stream of Consciousness?
The Stream of Consciousness, in regards to literature, is a specific type of mode of narration in which the character's thought process is provided in a way which mirrors a human's.
Therefore, the mental converstaions, or private thoughts, of the character are provided for the reader so as to allow the reader a greater insight into the mind of the character. This provides the reader with indirect, or inferred, reasoning behind the actions of the character in question.
The way that author's show Stream of Consciousness is through a thought "overheard" or shown in a dialogue where the character is speaking to themselves.
This type of narrative mode is seen in asides (a personal thought spoken aloud to one's self, or in the thoughts provided by the author on "behalf" of the character).
The two most famous examples of the use of stream of consciousness technique are James Joyce's Ulysses and William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. You can look up both novels on eNotes for specific examples of stream of consciousness technique. We all have streams of consciousness. We talk to ourselves about our wishes, fantasies, observations, plans, regrets, etc., without talking out loud. The stream of conscioussness is what goes on inside your head during much of your waking hours.