My Brother Sam Is Dead
by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
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)
Our head honcho Tim tells his own story. This means we get to hear what he's thinking and feeling all the time. And boy does this kid spend lot of time thinking. Basically, it's all Tim all the time.
Here's the deal. There are two sides to the Timmy-as-taleteller coin:
(1) With Tim as our storyteller, we get an up-close-and-personal look at history. This isn't just a story about the Revolutionary War as a big abstract event that happened oodles of years ago. Instead, we learn about how this war affected our main man, Tim.
(2) Tim may be a great storyteller, but he isn't a mind reader. This means that Tim doesn't always know what's happening outside his town of Redding. To be honest, he can't even tell us what other people are thinking. But that's not going to stop Timmy from taking a guess every now and again:
When I saw Betsy at the tavern or in church I would look at her in hopes that she would give me a sign or whisper to me that Sam was coming soon, but she never did. I guess she was scared of having the subject come up in front of grownups, especially Father or the other Tories. (3.29)
See how Tim tries to figure out what Betsy is thinking? He doesn't know exactly what's going on inside that head of hers. But he looks at her actions to take as good a guess as he can.
So how much do you think we should trust Tim's guesses? Do you think he's a reliable narrator? Or does he spend too much time guessing and not enough time on the facts?