Study Guide

Ship Breaker Narrator Point of View

By Paolo Bacigalupi

Narrator Point of View

Third Person (Limited Omniscient)

Even though Bacigalupi writes the story in third person, we only get to see into Nailer's perspective. We know what he's thinking and feeling, but we don't have the same view into any other character's brain, so instead we have to extrapolate what Nita, Pima, and Tool think based on their actions and dialogue. Sometimes transitioning from third person narrative to a character's innermost thoughts can be awkward and clunky, but Bacigalupi shifts from straight narration to Nailer's reflections pretty seamlessly. For example:

Nailer stumbled on. "I mean, you're still a swank, but, you know, if you needed work, I'd stand for you."

She smiled then, a smile as bright as the blue ocean. Nailer felt his chest contract. Damn, he was crazy. He was actually starting to like this girl. (18.9-10)

Here we've got Nailer's awkward admission that Nita's okay and then an easy transition to his thoughts. And although we sometimes want to get a little more insight into Nita's and Tool's minds (really, we just want to know what Tool's thinking all the time), what we infer from the dialogue suffices.

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