All the Years of Her Life

by Morley Callaghan

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What is the point of view in "All the Years of Her Life"?

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The point of view in this story is third-person omniscient. In such a narration, the storyteller has insight into the thoughts and emotions of all the characters. In this story, the narrator describes what Alfred Higgins, the main character, is feeling and thinking. The narration also provides insight into the pharmacy owner's thoughts and emotions as well as an awareness of those of Mrs. Higgins, Alfred's mother.

The following excerpts are indications of this point of view:

The soft, confident, quiet way in which Sam Carr spoke made Alfred start to button his coat nervously. He felt sure his face was white...

...Alfred had never heard his employer speak softly like that. His heart began to beat so loud it was hard for him to get his breath.

The above extracts indicate a knowledge of what Alfred feels and thinks. The second quote goes even further by providing extra detail of Alfred's awareness of the past. Since the story focuses on Alfred, this technique is mostly used whenever his character is discussed.

Mr. Carr was a little embarrassed by her lack of terror and her simplicity, and he hardly knew what to say to her, so she asked.

Mr. Carr began to feel warm and genial himself. 

In the above examples, the narrator describes Mr. Carr's thoughts and feelings.

Mrs. Higgins put out her hand and touched Sam Carr’s arm with an understanding gentleness, and speaking as though afraid of disturbing him, she said...

Her simple earnestness made her shy; her humility made her falter and look away...

These selected extracts similarly indicate the emotions Mrs. Higgins is experiencing and provide an idea of what she might be thinking.

The omniscient third-person point of view used in this story allows the reader deeper insight into what motivates the characters to act the way they do. Readers experience what the characters think and feel and can therefore better assess the depth and strength of their character and personality. The technique allows the reader enough information to either sympathize or identify with a character or to be critical and reject a character's actions as unacceptable or immoral.

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All the Years of Her Life” by Morley Callaghan is told from the third person point of view. There are only three characters in the story, young Alfred Higgins, who works in a pharmacy, his mother, and the pharmacy owner, Mr. Sam Carr. The author develops the character traits of Mrs. Higgins and Mr. Carr through their physical descriptions, their conversations, and actions. The narrator guides the reader to delve into Alfred’s thoughts and emotions on a more personal level. When the narrator describes what Alfred thinks the reader comes to understand what he feels about himself and his mother. This is an example of a selective or limited omniscient third person narrator, where the narrator tells the story of all of the characters but develops the emotions and underlying personality of one of the characters to a greater extent.

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