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 (Limited Omniscient)
Have you ever noticed that the word "ominous" is almost inside of the word "omniscient?" OK, maybe only the first two letters are, but we do think there is something a little ominous about this omniscient point of view. The point of view seems to know everyone and everything, and chooses for us who we should be interested in, who we should pay attention to. Sometimes the point of view gives us so much detail, we’re practically there in Southside or Shalimar. Other times, we’re left to imagine, guess, wonder at what happens. Like Guitar’s girlfriend. Who was she and how did she break his heart? Or Pilate’s thoughts at the end of the novel. We hear what she says, but, DANG IT, we don’t have access to her mind. Initially, we have a hard time trying to figure out who we’re supposed to like and pay attention to. But then the point of view settles on Milkman. Pay very close attention to the "limited" part. When do the limits come into play, and when is the point of view unlimited (if ever)? This point of view guy sure does have a lot of power, because he is able to end the novel before we know what happens to Milkman. Toni Morrison wanted her readers to take part in the construction and creation of the novel to, in a sense, work with the point of view/narrator to determine what is important and what is not. She said, "to have the reader work with the author in the construction of the book – [that] is what’s important. What is left out is as important as what is there."