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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

by Mark Twain
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What type of narrator is telling The Adventures of Tom Sawyer? Identify the point of view being used.

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An omniscient third-person narrator tells the story of Tom Sawyer. This is the point of view of an adult looking back with fondness at a young boy's world.

We know the narration is third person because it refers to the characters as 'he' or 'she,' rather than using the...

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An omniscient third-person narrator tells the story of Tom Sawyer. This is the point of view of an adult looking back with fondness at a young boy's world.

We know the narration is third person because it refers to the characters as 'he' or 'she,' rather than using the first-person 'I.' We know the narration is omniscient (all-knowing) because the narrator slides easily from the viewpoint of one character to the next. In the opening, for example, we move from Aunt Polly wondering how she it is she never catches on to Tom's tricks to Tom's own thoughts:

Within two minutes, or even less, he had forgotten all his troubles.

In between, the narrator provides us with information about Sid and summarizes what Tom has done between escaping Aunt Polly's wrath over his eating the jam and coming home for dinner.

Twain's narrator speaks authoritatively. When he tells what a character is like, such as Sid being a quiet boy, we can usually count on the description being true. However, we do have to be careful to distinguish between when the narrator is speaking to us directly and when we are hearing Tom's sometimes childish and misguided thoughts. Tom and the narrator can blend superstition and fact into a seamless whole and it is our job to determine which is which.

Twain's narrator, nostalgically standing outside of and above the scenes he records, also treats his characters with gentle humor. We do need to keep in mind that the narrator is usually on Tom's side, partial to the boy, and most often tells the story from his perspective. We can imagine, for example, that we might have a less flattering picture of Tom as a bully if Sid was the character the narrator primarily sided with.

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