Study Guide

The American Narrator Point of View

By Henry James

Narrator Point of View

Third Person (Omniscient)

Third person omniscient, you say? That's what we get when the narrator sneaks in on every character's deepest and darkest secrets.

For instance, we instantly hear that the shabby-looking M. Nioche "was evidently going through his remnant of life on tiptoe, for fear of waking up the hostile fates" (1.29). We wouldn't know that little tidbit unless the narrator saw fit to delve into M. Nioche's mind to dig it out for us.

Just to make it clear that we're on the inside track to M. Nioche's thoughts, we get a bonus detail: If Newman says anything rude to Noemie, M. Nioche plans to "entreat him huskily, as a particular favor, to forbear; but he would admit at the same time that he was very presumptuous to ask for particular favors" (1.29). In other words, M. Nioche's fairly honest about his own weaknesses.

Our narrator is interested in stripping away all the false confidence to expose something a little more interesting.

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