Fathers and Sons
by Ivan Turgenev
Analysis: Narrator Point of View
Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?
Third Person (Omniscient)
The narrator of the story is typical of nineteenth-century fiction; he has no direct bearing on the action of the story, and yet he is capable of weaving in and out of the thoughts of whichever character he pleases. To an extent, it seems that the language of the story can go anywhere and do anything. Yet, it's worth noting that the narrator is keenly aware of his relationship to the reader. No principle seems as important to him as dramatic efficiency. From the start, we also find that the narrator takes on a conversational tone with the reader. After introducing Nikolai Petrovich, he says, "and so we meet him, quite grey now, stoutish and a trifle bent" (1.8). The narrator, though unidentified, quickly draws us intimately into the frame of his story. Even if he occupies an impossible point of view (knowing what's going on in everyone's head), he is a narrator who recognizes that his goal is to tell a story, and to tell it well.