Study Guide

Goodbye, Columbus Narrator Point of View

By Philip Roth

Narrator Point of View

First Person (Central Narrator)

Neil Klugman is the first person narrator of Goodbye, Columbus. He's a twenty-three-year-old man with a degree in philosophy and a job at the Newark library. This is the story of his summer-to-fall romance with Brenda Patimkin and of the journey to self-discovery that the romance causes him.

His narrative style is conspiratorial and confidential. At times, Neil can come off as angsty and judgmental—maybe he's in the final stretches of puberty—but the reader is drawn into his inner life by his humor, wisdom, and even his insecurity. Neil presents some of his least sympathetic actions, like his behavior toward Brenda regarding the diaphragm, in a very harsh light. This opens the door for us to see things from Brenda's point of view as well, so much so that "Women's Issues" is a major theme in the story.