Authors, narrators and focalizers

Narratives never tell us the story, they only give us a version (or versions) of the story. What they narrate, in other words, always comes from a particular point of view; the actions and characters they present are always presented to us from one or more specific angles. These angles or points of view sometimes belong solely to a specific character (or characters), but they can also reflect the belief systems, ideologies and institutional practices of specific societies, or groups within society.

[Add links to Sam’s visual illustration of how the “same” thing can look very different from different angles]

Given this crucial truth about narratives, whenever we wish to analyse a narrative, we should always seek to establish the point(s) of view from which it tells its story. A useful way of doing this is to ask: who is telling the story and whose story is being told? In order to answer these questions accurately, we need to distinguish between authors and narrators, between different kinds of narrators, and between narrators and focalizers.

Please click on each of the following links in turn to learn more about each of these categories and how to analyse them:

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