Short Stories for Teaching Point of View in Literature
By Trent Lorcher
Use these illustrative short stories to teach point of view in literature. Here are a few great examples worth using.
"Content's of the Dead Man's Pocket" by Jack Finney - Tom Benecke compiles a report that just may get him his big raise, but as the piece of yellow paper flies out the window and onto a ledge, Benecke must decide whether to risk his life and retrieve the paper or to let it go. The reader sees the story develop from a third-person limited point of view, knowing the thoughts and actions of the story's protagonist. Gain the perspective of another character -- Tom's wife, a passerby on the street below, his boss -- by rewriting a particular passage or by conducting a mock interview.
"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by James Thurber - Walter Mitty is a brow-beaten middle-aged man who dreams of so much more. Join Walter on his life-and-death adventures in James Thurber's most popular short story. Thurber employs a third-person limited point of view and entertains his readers with Mitty's daydreams. Taking a look at how his wife views the situation would be entertaining indeed.
"The Scarlet Ibis" by James Hurst - Break out the tissues as you read the first person account of Doodle's death from his brother. By employing first person point of view, Hurst allows the reader to identify with his narrator.
"The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allen Poe - Montresor's chilling first person account of his plan to kill Fortunato has been a high school favorite for years. Making a character chart comparing the two main characters, from both Montresor's and Fortunato's perspective makes for an interesting class discussion. It's also fun to imagine Fortunato as the first person narrator.
"The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" by Mark Twain - Twain's frame story encompasses a third person account from Simon Wheeler from a first person narrator who's been the recipient of a prank. Laugh along with Twain as he takes his narrator on a labyrinthine diatribe. Discuss the elements of a frame story by creating a frame with "The narrator asks Simon Wheeler about Leonidas W. Smith." Inside the frame write "Simon Wheeler narrates the following stories"