Snow Falling on Cedars

by David Guterson

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Is Snow Falling on Cedars written in 1st, 3rd person limited, or 3rd person omniscient style?

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Point of view is the way a narrator tells a story.  The three common types of point of view are first person, third person limited and third person omniscient.  The novel Snow Falling on Cedars is told from the third person omniscient point of view.

You can easily tell point of view by paying attention to the way pronouns and names are used in a story.  If the narrator says "I think" and uses first person pronouns like I, me, my, our and us, then you know that this is a first person narrative.  In first person, the narrator is a character in the story.  For example:

For the life of him, after all these years, he couldn't read the expression on her face.

There are two types of third person point of view: limited and omniscient.  They both use third person pronouns for most of the narration, such as he, she, they, them and so on.  They also use names.  Instead of "he thought" it becomes "Wally thought" because the narrator is one step removed from the action.  The narrator is not a character in the story.

In third person limited, the narrator only knows one character's thoughts and actions.  In third person omniscient, the narrator knows everyone’s.  As soon as we are in the hearts and minds of more than one character, we have an omniscient narrator.  Omniscient literally means "all knowing" and is a god-like perspective.

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