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Narrator and Point of View (Easy Novel Guide)

Narrator and Point of View

When an author chooses the narrator in a story, she makes an important decision, since it matters a lot to how we are involved as readers. First watch this animation to find out about first and third person narrators and point of view.

In the Harry Potter books, Rowling has chosen a third person narrative. She tells the story mainly through Harry. She knows a lot about him and also a lot about the other characters, but she is not all-knowing (meaning that she knows what is going to happen). The point of view is mainly Harry's. In the first 3 extracts below Harry is just a baby, and Rowling has to borrow Hagrid's and Professor Dumbledore's eyes. Until Harry is old enough, she also has to depend on the Dursleys. In this way she shifts between the Muggles' point of view and the wizards' point of view.

Extracts from novel

Extracts from the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone used in the analysis.

Extract 1

If the motorcycle was huge, it was nothing to the man sitting astride it. He was almost twice as tall as a normal man and at least five times as wide. He looked simply too big to be allowed, and so wild – long tangles of bushy black hair and beard hid most of his face, he had hands the size of trash can lids, and his feet in their leather boots were like baby dolphins. In his vast, muscular arms he was holding a bundle of blankets. (Description of Hagrid)

Extract 2

"S–s–sorry," sobbed Hagrid, taking out a large, spotted handkerchief and burying his face in it. "But I c-c-can’t stand it – Lily and James dead – an’ poor little Harry off ter live with Muggles – " (Hagrid talks about Harry’s dead parents and how he has to stay with the humans, the Muggles)

Extract 3

“Yes, yes, it’s all very sad, but get a grip on yourself, Hagrid, or we’ll be found," Professor McGonagall whispered, patting Hagrid gingerly on the arm as Dumbledore stepped over the low garden wall and walked to the front door. He laid Harry gently on the doorstep, took a letter out of his cloak, tucked it inside Harry’s blankets, and then came back to the other two. For a full minute the three of them stood and looked at the little bundle; Hagrid’s shoulders shook, Professor McGonagall blinked furiously, and the twinkling light that usually shone from Dumbledore’s eyes seemed to have gone out.(From the delivery of the orphan Harry at the Dursleys’ doorstep)

Extract 4

“Look"– he murmured, holding out his arm to stop Malfoy. Something bright white was gleaming on the ground. They inched closer. It was the unicorn, all right, and it was dead. Harry had never seen anything so beautiful and sad. Its long, slender legs were stuck out at odd angles where it had fallen and its mane was spread pearly white on the dark leaves. Harry had taken one step toward it when a slithering sound made him freeze where he stood. A bush on the edge of the clearing quivered... Then, out of the shadows, a hooded figure came crawling across the ground like some stalking beast. Harry, Malfoy, and Fang stood transfixed. The cloaked figure reached the unicorn, lowered its head over the wound in the animal’s side, and began to drink its blood. (from the first time Harry meets Voldemort)

Some useful words
Behavior = atferd
Dolphins = delfiner/delfinar
Bundle = bylt
Blankets = laken, tepper/laken, teppe
Villains = skurker/skurkar
Unicorn = et fabeldyr, ofte en hest med ett horn/eit fabeldyr, oftast ein hest med eitt horn
Quivered = skalv

Wound = sår


Study Extract 4 above.

  1. How do we see that this is a third person narrative?
  2. How are Harry’s thoughts revealed?
  3. How does the point of view make Harry’s first meeting with Voldemort exciting?