Comment upon the author's use of point of view in "Once Upon a Time."

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Firstly, it is important to realize that this story is actually a frame story, or a story within a story. Thus the point of view begins with Nadine Gordimer herself writing about an incident when she is asked to write a story about the "duty" of being a writer. In bed that night, she is awakened by a strange noise. To calm herself down, she makes up a story, which marks a shift in point of view as we move from first person point of view to an omniscient narrator. We would do well to consider why Gordimer presents the story with this particular frame around it. When we consider the fairy-tale element of the central story, and the way it represents a parody in many ways of this genre, the frame story seems to highlight the message of what the author is trying to communicate. Although the central story is written as a tale, the opening grounds the story in reality as we are forced to remember that nothing in the fairy tale is that long ago or far away, even from the troubled sleep of the author herself in South Africa. Fear and the lengths that it will force us to go to are the subject of this tale - with the accompanying tragic consequences of such an approach. This is the impact of the shift in point of view of this excellent story.

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Once Upon a Time

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