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Point of view is an important aspect of any literary work – but what is it? In this lesson, you’ll learn about POV as it relates to Golding’s ”Lord of the Flies”, its purpose, and its point.

What is Point of View?

Everyone’s got a point of view, his or her own way of looking at the world. You’re realized this, no doubt, after thousands of arguments about politics with your family or discussions about movies with your friends. Everyone has an opinion and a world view.

A work’s point of view (POV) refers to who (or what) is telling the story. There are three distinct POV types: first, second, or third person. You’ll hear about third person narration in this lesson, which means the narrator uses ‘he’ or ‘she’ to refer to the characters in a story, but still knows the inner workings of one or more characters. William Golding uses this type of POV in his novel Lord of the Flies.

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Third Person Omniscient

More specifically, Golding takes advantage of third person omniscient POV in this work.

This type of narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of all the characters, and relates those thoughts to the reader. This makes it really easy for you to understand the motivations and desires of multiple characters, but this also means you’re not tethered to one character’s interpretations. You may have biases, sure, but you’re sort of above the action, interpreting it on your own.You don’t know who exactly is narrating this book, but that doesn’t matter. The narrator isn’t directly involved in the action, and is merely relaying events. Of course, the book is so violent, you may find yourself wanting the narrator to intervene, but since this is third person omniscient storytelling, the poor kiddos on the island are out of luck.Here’s an example of this distant narration from the novel:’Ralph disentangled himself cautiously and stole away through the branches.

In a few seconds the fat boy’s grunts were behind him and he was hurrying toward the screen that still lay between him and the lagoon.’See? The narrator isn’t passing judgment on Ralph’s actions here, or telling you what to think about him. The actions are being described, and, although you’re told Ralph moves cautiously, the narrator is only explaining this in the context of his movements, not telling you what to think.

The narrator merely tells you that Ralph goes into the jungle without judging his actions
Jungle

Why Use This POV?

As stated in the previous section, Golding uses this type of POV in order to allow readers their own vantage point, their own seat high above the chaos and cruelty of the novel. The characters fall further and further into madness, but you never do.

You get to see these boys for what they truly are: scared little kids left without adult supervision for far too long.That’s not to say you still aren’t privy to some of the characters’ biases and flights of imagination; you’re present when the Lord of the Flies appears as a terrifying hallucination, and you watch the mad frenzy of the boys when they begin to attack one another. But with this type of POV, you’re allowed to be above these things, maintaining some semblance of objectivity. Like in this example:’ ‘We’ve seen the beast with our own eyes. No–we weren’t asleep–‘Sam took up the story.

By custom now one conch did for both twins, for their substantial unity was recognized.’It was furry. There was something moving behind its head–wings.The beast moved too–‘ ‘As the twins relate their tale of seeing the beast in the woods, you’re not given any judgments or opinions. The narrator simply tells you what the boys say directly, no tricks. This allows you to either believe they hallucinated something terrifying, or they totally dreamed what they saw.

Who knows? The narrator certainly won’t tell you.

Lesson Summary

A literary work’s point of view is who or what relates a story. There are three types of point of view: first, second, and third person.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding uses third person omniscient POV, which means a reader can be privy to the thoughts of more than one character. Since this narrator is impartial and distant, the reader can interpret events his or her own way, at a place above the action.

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