Narrator Influence


Narrator Influence Essay, Research Paper

"The role of the narrator influences the type of relationship we have not

only with him or her but also with the story" (Landy 75). This quote was

taken from our Literary Studies book in which we have read several stories

concerning different styles of narration. Narration is one of the most important

components of a story. The characters, plot, setting, and theme are also

significant, however the narrator sets the mood and also the pace of the story.

Two good examples of narration is the short tale The Zebra Storyteller by

Spencer Holst and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. These are

stories in which the narrators retain certain styles of narration. An outside

book that we have not read is the fairy tale Cinderella. In these three works,

the narrators have specific functions or duties to carry throughout the story.

In The Zebra Storyteller the narrator is a Siamese cat but the narrator is also

an outsider. During the story the cat tells a story to his friends about how

skillful and ‘powerful’ he is at killing zebras. Towards the end of the story

the cat is handed his fate; he is kicked and killed by a zebra, who sensed

feared when approached. At the end of the story Holst concludes with the

statement, "That is the function of the storyteller." This statement

pertains to the idea of the function the storyteller has or how they create the

atmosphere and set the grounds in which the story is based on. There are many

functions of the storyteller. They can teach a lesson, control the story,

entertain, and stretch one’s own imagination. In this story it is a great

example how the story can take a sudden unexpected turn and shock the reader.

The narrator can take twists and turns and can make expected or even unexpected

outcomes in the story. A good example in the story would be where the narrator

states, "The zebra storyteller wasn’t fit to be tied at hearing a cat

speaking his language, because he’d been thinking about that very thing" (Holst

1971). At this point the narrator changes the reader’s perspective and sheds

light on an upcoming event in the story. Which turned out to be a big event

where the Siamese cat got killed. Of course this story is fictional but it is an

excellent story to portray how a narrator can expand the reader’s imagination.

The Yellow Wallpaper is a story in that one of the different styles of narration

is prevalent. Some types of unique styles of narration writing are story

telling, diary style, or telling a story about a day’s experience. The Yellow

Wallpaper is in diary format which means the narrators internal thoughts are

exposed in the story as well as their outside thoughts, meaning how they deal

with the other characters in the story. This story is about a woman who is in a

mental hospital where she is kept in a room that has very old yellow wallpaper

on the walls. In this story the main character or the narrator is secluded in

this room by herself and is limited to basically doing nothing. As the story

continues the narrator is drawn toward the hideous wallpaper and finds herself

in the wallpaper. In her diary writings she reports, "There are things in

that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will. Behind that outside pattern

the dim shapes get clearer everyday" (Gilman 83). In her reports she

creates a mysterious, scary mood about the woman she sees in that paper. When

the narrator reveals ‘her diary’ it allows reading into their thoughts on how

they take in the actions in the story. She lets them into how she feels about

her husband and also she is not allowed to write because he says it is going to

delay her getting better, which she disagrees with. She says, "Personally,

I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me

good" (Gilman 78). The narrator’s function in this story is to set not only

the mood but also the setting. In the beginning she describes her settings very

clearly giving details of her room and the outside gardens. As the story

continues she becomes more abstract due to her deteriorating awareness of

reality. At the end her husband collapses due to the sight of his wife ‘creeping

through the wallpaper.’ She makes her reader’s imagination wonder what really

happens at the end. After he faints she says, "Now why should that man have

fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to

creep over him every time" (Gilman 89). The function of the narrator in

this story is to cause the reader to imagine and picture the story. The

fairytale that I chose to discuss the narrator role was Cinderella. This story

is a very popular tale among young children especially me when I was little. In

this story the narrator is an outsider who tells the story of a young girl who

meets a prince that she falls in love with. Cinderella is a greatly imaginative

story where the reader can picture and imagine scenes throughout the story. The

narrator describes in great detail major points of the story. He writes,

"And not just the kind thoughts, and love, but also dresses, shoes, shawls,

delicious food, comfy beds, as well as every home comfort" (Dulac 1). He

describes the way the evil stepsisters treat Cinderella and how harsh and

distasteful they are. There is much dialogue incorporated in the story from all

the important characters. The narrator’s purpose in this story is to simply tell

the story from an outside perspective. He is not a character in the story but he

does have a role throughout. When the fairy godmother turned the mice into

horsemen the narrator remarks, "The pumpkin turned into a sparkling coach

and the mice became six white horses, while the seventh mouse turned into a

coachman, in a smart uniform and carrying a whip. Cinderella could hardly

believe her eyes" (Dulac 2). The narrator in Cinderella has a magical way

with words. He enraptures his reader’s who are predominantly young in age into

an enchanted world where mice become horsemen and a servant’s ensemble turns

into a beautiful, sparkly ball gown. Narrator’s in stories whether they be short

or long have many specific roles. They can teach an important lesson, control

the story, amuse, and entertain. A significant theme can be taught by the way

the narrator tells the story and how the atmosphere or mood is created. If there

was not an effective narrator in a story, the story would not be worth reading.

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