What is an example of the first person point of view in literature?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the authors you will undoubtedly be reading in the years to come--if not this year--is Edgar Allan Poe.  Any of his works would serve to demonstrate the use of a first-person point of view.  I've linked below to "The Cask of Amontillado" because it's one you 're likely to read first.  First person, of course, means there is a narrator who tells his own story.  In this story, Montressor opens the story with these lines (I added the bold for emphasis):

The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitely, settled—but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish but punish with impunity.

The consistent use of I, me, and my (as opposed to he, she, or it) is how you know the story is told in first person.  Any one of Poe's short stories would work for you as an example.  I've included an e-notes link to the story in full text, below, in case you want to read more.

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

Posted on

To my mind, if you want a really good example of a first person point of view in literature, you need look no further than the excellent short story "By the Waters of Babylon." I have included a link to more information about it down below, but it is well worth reading as it is a wonderful story set in the future of our world after a nuclear disaster that has all but wiped out our civilisation from the face of the planet. What is key to the use of the point of view in this story is how the narrator is limited in his perspective - he and his people have lost knowledge about their ancestors, and so he describes ruins of our world that have been destroyed by the holocaust but he is not able to understand what they are. Thus he refers to "God Roads" and "The Place of the Dead" to describe highways and cities that mark his post-apocalyptic landscape. Well worth reading. Enjoy!

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