Who is the speaker? Is it Richard Rive?

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andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narration in this story is done through a third-person perspective. In this form of storytelling, the speaker has an all-knowing, omniscient voice. The narrator is not limited to a narrow 'I' point-of-view as in a first person narration, but provides a more open and objective rendition of events as they unfold. References to characters are done either through descriptors, for example, "the white man" or "the girl in the pretty blue dress" or by names such as "Karlie," as in this story.

Since the narrator is all-knowing, he or she knows the thoughts and ideas of all the characters. The narrator also has insight into the purpose and motivation of characters' actions. The storyteller is not judgmental, but unfolds events from the characters' perspectives, therefore providing the reader an opportunity to make his or her own judgments and come to his/her own conclusions.

In third-person narration, the speaker is not involved in the story itself, although he or she might appear as one of the named characters, the perspective, however, remains open and objective. Richard Rive might have written, for example: "Mr Richard Rive was watching proceedings unfold on The Grand Parade, feeling very proud of himself for having the courage to attend."

The perspective of the characters in the story itself may be depicted in any way the narrator wishes to. This allows the reader to make judgments about the characters themselves. In Rive's story for example, we admire Karlie's courage and condemn the actions of the racist onlookers, since the speaker presents them as such. The speaker however, does not make the judgment call and only presents us with the events as they unfold, expressing the thoughts, in this story, of the main character.

Since Richard Rive is the author of this story, it would be correct to say that he is the omniscient third-person narrator.

Read the study guide:
The Bench

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