The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
by Carson McCullers
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
Omniscient. Sounds kind of spooky, right? Well, let's take a look. See, this novel is highly episodic, which means it is structured as a series of small – you guessed it – episodes that are all linked together. Kind of like TV series. So we get individual chapters containing individual, somewhat self-contained stories that focus on only one or a few characters at time.
So what does all this have to do with narrative technique? Well, the narrator is only omniscient for one character at a time. This means that in a chapter focusing on Mick, we hear all of Mick's thoughts, and get everything largely from her perspective, with some narrator input. This also means that we get Mick's view of all our other characters, ranging from Biff to Singer. But in a Mick chapter, our omniscient narrator doesn't have access to the inner thoughts of characters like Biff or Jake or Copeland.
This is a pretty neat set-up: we get to know each character really well and we're pretty much gossip central. Not too shabby.
How would this book be different if it were told from, say, Singer's point-of-view?