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    The First-Person Narration in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, and Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

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    “You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter,” begins the American classic, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Twain 1). The light cheerful diction of Huckleberry Finn sparks interest in the young naïve boy. Without his voice, the novel would neither have struck a nerve of America nor created a classic. Likewise, in Ellen Foster, Ellen’s trials are seen more realistically through her own eyes and ideas.

    In these two novels, as well as Catcher in the Rye where Holden’s cynical views strikes home, the style of first-person narration plays an important part in setting the tone of the book as a whole. First-person narration in The Adventures of Huck Finn, Catcher in the Rye, and Ellen Foster is an effective style that demonstrates the psychological depths, the characteristics, and the much needed sympathy of the protagonist. However, this style also limits ideas, truths, and attachments to characters other than the protagonist.

    Because Holden’s cynical view of the world around him, the ideas he holds are apparent only in first-person. The way he thinks is difficult and only first-person allows the reader to understand it truly. First-person narrative reveals the psychological state of the protagonist. For instance, we would only know about Holden’s beliefs regarding others if we could tell that he was thinking. Character is also demonstrated in the style of first-person narrative. Huck Finn is a character with hidden morals and he is better understood by this style than any other.

    The way it is written so that the style gives you a better view of his character, slows you to not only infer what will happen, but also understand his reasoning and motives behind his actions. Finally, first-person creates sympathy for the protagonist, more so than another style. Ellen Foster is narrated by a girl who has been through trials to numerous to count. If the book was written in first-person, it would easy to identify with her and feel sympathy. But, first-person better demonstrates the hardships she has had by giving her view of them. Without the style of first- person narrative in these novels, aspects of the story would not be as defined.

    Although first-person successfully demonstrates ideas and creates sympathy for the protagonist, it limits the reader’s attachment to the protagonist only. The reader is unable to feel direct sympathy continually for other characters. The protagonist is always first. In Catcher in the Rye, it is difficult to have any feeling regarding characters other than Holden. His roommates are interesting but largely distant compared to Holden. Truth is also stretched in this narration.

    Ellen Foster’s viewpoint shows the life of a young girl but for all we know, she could be lying about her entire life. What she tells us is her truth, and what she sees. It may not be as others see it so it is therefore limited. Viewpoints on certain situations are also limited. It becomes difficult to see what others think in a situation, but only that of the protagonist remains potent.

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn demonstrates this through its views on slavery. You are unable to assess what others believe on racism because you are limited to first-person. You understand Huck Finn in that he believes slavery is wrong but he is not upset with it, but it is hard to understand the Sheperdson’s viewpoints on it because you are simply not given enough information by Huck. In first-person narration, the setting, people and ideas are limited so much so that it should be called limited person.

    In conclusion, first-person narration is only effective when dealing specifically with a multi-faceted character that the author wants you to understand and believe in emphatically. In these three novels it fits perfectly when.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    The First-Person Narration in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, and Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons. (2022, Dec 10). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/the-first-person-narration-in-the-adventures-of-huckleberry-finn-by-mark-twain-catcher-in-the-rye-by-j-d-salinger-and-ellen-foster-by-kaye-gibbons/

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