The narration of a story starts with writers choosing a point of view, a specific perspective by which the readers will enjoy the whole story and the first-person point of view is one of the major narratives used in storytelling.
What is First Person Point of View?
The first-person point of view is a narrative voice and a way of storytelling in which the narrator of the story tells the whole story using the pronouns ”I”, ”me”, or ”we”.
The narrator of the story in the first-person narrative is most of the time the protagonist, the main character of the story, narrating the story from their own perspective, sharing their emotions and experiences.
Related: What is Third Person POV?
Understand the first-person point of view narrative by the below sentence examples.
- I tried hard to find her, but never succeeded as she had left the country and later again after four years I saw her on the streets of New York.
- We were so excited to start our adventure trip, but suddenly the plan got changed.
- It was my first trip outside the country, but soon after the flight landed I get into trouble as I had lost my passport.
Writing in the First Person–
- The writer narrates the whole story from the perspective of the protagonist (main character).
- The writer can also choose another character like any important character from the story, or even a less important character who is witnessing events, or a person retelling a story told by someone else.
- In this narrative, the character depicts every incident and event which will happen or had happened in the story.
- The reader enjoys the whole story from the chosen character’s perspective who is most of the time the protagonist of the story.
- The reader feels like sitting at the head of the main character, going with him/her to witness everything, every incident, event, adventure and feeling the emotions of the protagonist.
Examples of First Person Point of View-
- ”To kill a Mocking Bird” by Harper Lee
Atticus was feeble: He was nearly fifty. When Jem and I asked him why he was so old He said he got started late, which we felt reflected upon his abilities and manliness.TO KILL A MOAKING BIRD
In the above sentences from the story, the author has presented the perspective of a six-year-old girl Jean Scout Finch, who is calling her father “feeble’’ because his dad is nearly fifty.
Here the author narrates the story from the mouth or perspective of the main character Scout as Lee uses the First Person (I, we, our, and my) to present the point of view of the main character, and readers get to understand the thought process of Scout, the main character.
- ”The Faults in Our Star” by John Green
”Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house,..”THE FAULTS IN OUR STARS
In the novel, The faults in our stars, John Green writes the story using the point of view of a 16-year-old girl and the protagonist, “Hazel Grace Lancaster” who narrates the whole in first person narrative but limits the readers to her perspective only of what she feels, sees or thinks.
In the above line from the first chapter of the novel, the author uses my and I first-person pronouns to write the story narrating it from the main character Hazel’s perspective.
- ”The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
I don’t need to shove through the crowd. The other kids make way immediately allowing me a straight path to the stage. I reach her just as she is about to mount the steps. With one sweep of my arm, I push her behind me.THE HUNGER GAMES
Another great example of the first-person point of view, The Hunger Games is narrated from the point of view of the main character Katniss Evergreen.
- ”Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens
The unqualified truth is that when I loved Estella with the love of a man, I loved her simply because I found her irresistible. Once for all; I knew too my sorrow, often and often, if not always that I love her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Related: What is Third-Person Omniscient POV?
First Person Narrative Exceptions
First Person Peripheral–
The story is narrated the same as first-person pov using pronouns ”I” or ”We” but this time the narrator is not the main character, but another major or important character from the story who is closely observing the main character.
Example of the First Person Peripheral-
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
In my younger and more valuable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. ”Whenever you feel like criticizing any one, ” he told me, ”just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”THE GREAT GATSBY
Written in 1925 by an American author, The Great Gatsby has been termed one of the greatest novels ever written by many literary critics.
The novel follows the story of a young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby, the protagonist, but narrated from Nick Carraway’s perspective, the next-door neighbor of the protagonist and one of the major characters in the novel.
The readers can dive into the thoughts of Nick Carraway and can enjoy the whole story through his perspective and whatever he experiences in the story.
First Person Omniscient–
First-person omniscient point of view is the rarest form of narrative where the narrator uses first-person pronouns ”I” and ”my” to tell the story but also knows the thoughts and feelings of all other characters.
Example of first-person omniscient-
- The Book Thief by Markus Zukas–
The human heart is a line, whereas my own is a circle, and I have the endless ability to be in the right place at the right time. The consequences of this is that I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both.THE BOOK THIEF
Published in 2005, The Book Thief is a historical novel by Australian author Markus Zusak, which also got him the Man Booker Prize.
In the novel, the protagonist is an adopted girl, Liesel Meminger, who is on the verge of her adolescence, while the narrator is ”Death” itself, who narrates the story, presenting his point of view using the first-person pronoun ”I” and ”my” but he is death all-knowing, making him third-person omniscient narrator where he describes every character’s thoughts, feelings, emotions and also expressing his own.
Related: What is Third-Person Limited POV?
The problem of Reliable and Unreliable narrators in First person point of view
In first-person narration, there is a problem of unreliability meaning the narrator who is narrating the story is not necessary to speak only the truth to the readers
For example, let’s say your protagonist (the main character) in the story is a very egoist person and is jealous of every other character in the story so do you think using the first-person narrative and taking the perspective of this egocentric character who just tries to defames every character in the story will speak the truth and present the real story to its readers so these are called the unreliable narrators who can’t be trustworthy to the readers as a narrator so most often writers chose third-person narrative