McMillan’s strategy for character creation is closely aligned with her narrative choices. The novel employs omniscient and first-person points of view to reveal characters and their conflicts. When McMillan uses omniscient narration, she brings out her characters’ individuality through their speech, which ranges from Standard English to street-level dialect. When the author uses first-person narration, the characters tell their own stories in their own ways. McMillan’s introduction of the four main characters emphasizes the close connection among form, content, and character that is a hallmark of Waiting to Exhale.
First-person narrative point of view is used to make clear that Savannah, level-headed and confident, already has the voice to tell her story. She is planning to make big changes in her life. She moves from Denver to Phoenix and changes jobs, giving up her position as director of publicity at a major public utility to take a job in the publicity department at a television station, with a huge cut in pay. Savannah is depicted as in control of most of the issues in her life. When she talks about finding a shortage of “decent” black men in Denver and then reveals that she has not been successful with men in the last few years, however, she highlights an area of her life that she does not control. Indeed, as she prepares to drive to Phoenix, her errors in selecting men become evident; she allows Lionel, a man she hardly knows, to drive with her to Phoenix, where he attempts to sponge off her.
Robin also introduces herself in the first person; like Savannah, Robin has made an intelligent analysis of her personal and professional life. She is a successful insurance underwriter, and she has the money to dress the way she wants (she is given to purchasing expensive hairweaves), but she knows what she does not have control...
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