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Moon Over Manifest

Moon Over Manifest


by Clare Vanderpool

Analysis: Narrator Point of View

Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?

First Person (Central Narrator) and Third Person (Limited Omniscient)

Oh, boy. Are you really ready for this? Moon Over Manifest is told from approximately 476 different points of view. Well, okay, more like four. But still. It's nuts.

Let's take a look:

  • Abilene's part of the story is told in the first person. Abilene is our main character, at least in this storyline, and we're seeing everything through her eyes—or imagination, as the case may be: "I closed my eyes to the dusty countryside and imagined the sign I knew only from stories" (1.1). All the other stories in the book are being told to her, and the primary sources are things she's reading.
  • Then we've got the story told by Miss Sadie. She's talking in "fortune-teller 3rd person"—yeah, we just coined that. It's actually called 3rd person limited omniscient: she can somehow see into Jinx's head and knows all his thoughts and feelings, but she can't do that for anyone else.
  • Ned's letters from the front are all first person accounts, as are Hattie Mae's newspaper articles.

Okay, so let's zoom out and see how many layers of storytelling we've got here:

First, we have the story of Manifest in 1918, which is being told from three different angles:

(1) Ned's letters home, giving us a real, first-hand connection to the history.

(2) Miss Sadie's story, which gives us the inside, up-close-and-personal insights of an attentive mother.

(3) Hattie Mae's take, which backs everything up and gives us the big picture.

And then, of course, we have the story of Manifest in 1936...

(4) ... told by Abilene in the moment.

So there they are—476… ahem, four different stories.

Having all these different points of view contributing to the same story gives us a real sense of all the different townspeople that make Manifest what it is—a real community.

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