Point of View Who?

Lolita Book Cover

Lolita Book Cover

Why First isn’t the Easiest Option
Students always favor one point of view over the others: First Person
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“Why is that,” you ask? Well, it’s simple. They believe it to be the easiest.
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First person, when we are writing nonfiction is coming straight from the writer’s mouth.  It feeds off personal experience, using pronouns like I, we, our, me, my, etc. When the writer wants the reader to be close to him or her or their protagonist, they use first. First person is the equivalent of holding hands with the reader and perhaps giving them a kiss on the cheek when they’re not looking.  (Yes, this is very close business I’m talking about here.) Picture me creeping over your shoulder as you read this, much like Humbert Humbert does in Lolita.
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Nabokov’s fictional novel Lolita was banned in many countries when first published in 1955.  A middle-age man shouldn’t be in love with, pursue, and “snare” a 12-year-old girl claimed critics.
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What makes the novel a must-read?  There are many reasons, but first person point of view is one way to look at it.
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Humbert Humbert, the antagonist, the villain, the dark figure narrates his story.  Did Nabokov take the easy way out? Ahh, no! The gustiest choice you can make as a writer is make your Darth Vader your protagonist. The most memorable characters are the ones that readers love yet hate at the same time.  Humbert Humbert describes himself as a “spider,” but at times if you read close enough he can be a butterfly. I posed this question to my Globe University Introduction to Literature students: Do you feel for Humbert Humbert or Lolita?  Next week Monday, the votes will be in.  (I will let you know who comes out on top next week—Humbert Humbert verse Lolita.)
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When students write from personal experiences, they need to explore both the dark and light areas of their life while using first person.  Real writing comes with truth and that involves divulging secrets.  Each of my students has a “hard” story to tell.  Some of them even get emotional thinking about a memory.  When they ask me, “Should I write about it?” I tell them, “Yes.”  Sometimes we all have to be a spider or meet a spider before we can be a butterfly, and there is nothing wrong with that.
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Start spinning your own web. You may be surprised by what you catch.




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3 Responses to Point of View Who?

  1. Writing about our dark sides may be disconcerting, not only for the author, but for the reader. Solid idea, however.

    • Jodie Liedke says:

      I understand your concern about writing about moments or people that we are not so proud of—the dark side. However, sometimes this can be very therapeutic. Sometimes students need to let it out. Certain writing is meant to be shared with a reader, while some is not. The writer needs to make that choice. I have written many pieces that are just not ready to be shared yet. . . . Thanks again for you comment Kevin.

  2. Pingback: Class Discussion Gardens Growth | Globe University Blog

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